How to deal with damp and condensation
Tenants in rented accommodation are being reminded of the steps that can be taken to deal with damp and condensation in their homes – and to know when to contact a landlord to take action.
Most homes suffer from damp to some degree, but the good news is that it can usually be dealt with by making a few simple changes. However, if the problem is excessive, it could be caused by issues such as poor insulation, leaking gutters or downpipes, or inefficient heating systems and will need repairing by a qualified tradesperson.
One of the most common causes of damp, particularly in colder weather, is condensation, caused when water vapour in the house comes into contact with a cold surface such as a mirror, window or uninsulated solid wall. Water vapour is produced by cooking, drying clothes indoors or bathing.
The four main ways to reduce damp in your home are by making sure that the house is adequately heated, well-insulated, draught-proofed and well ventilated.
You can also help reduce condensation in your home by covering pans when cooking, drying clothes outdoors – or indoors with a window open, and by using extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms. Wiping down windows and sills in the morning will also help but be sure to wring out the cloth rather than dry it on a radiator.
Damp or condensation can cause mould growth, which appears as a patch of little black dots. A build-up of mould can cause health issues, including breathing illnesses. It can be removed with diluted bleach or a special fungicidal wash – while wearing rubber gloves and safety glasses. Specialist paint can be applied to help delay the growth of mould.
Two other types of damp will need a qualified tradesperson to sort out the issues. These are penetrating damp – where water gets in through leaking rainwater pipes, defective brickwork or damaged roofing, and rising damp, which can occur in walls if the damp course fails and creates a 'tide mark' up to one metre from the floor.
Cllr Neil Laurenson, vice chair of Worcester City Council's Communities Committee, said: "It's really important that tenants don't sit and worry about damp in their homes, but that they know how to deal with minor condensation issues caused by household activities – and they realise when the issue is more serious and they need to contact their landlord.
"Unfortunately, we are aware that some people's houses suffer from damp as they are unable to adequately heat their homes due to financial pressures. I would urge anyone in this situation to find out what help is available to them by visiting: www.worcester.gov.uk/advice-benefits/support-with-cost-of-living-crisis."
Act on Energy is a Midlands-based charity offering free advice and support. CEO of Act on Energy, Rachel Jones, said: "We know that people are very worried about their energy bills – but living in a cold, damp home can have serious health consequences. Fortunately, a few, relatively simple tips can really help to combat it. If you want more help and advice on this issue please do contact us".
Act on Energy can be contacted on Freephone: 0800 988 2881 (Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm) or here.