Keeping condensation and mould at bay this winter
As the temperatures drop and the nights get colder, property owners and managers may well be turning the dial up on their central heating. However, people should be aware that this time of year is also the period that we hear the most reports of condensation problems and associated issues such as mould.
Failure to find a solution to condensation problems quickly can have serious consequences including damage to wall coverings and contamination of wall plaster. It is estimated condensation issues affect one in five UK properties.
In this blog, we will explore the steps you can take to prevent condensation and avoid more severe problems such as mould damaging your premises this winter.
Prevention is better than cure
Most cases of condensation are caused by a lack of air ventilation in a property. Modern buildings are designed to be highly energy efficient and are well insulated, often with double glazing and draught excluders. However, this can seal air-borne damp – ‘humidity’ – within the property, increasing the chance of condensation developing. Whilst it may seem counterintuitive during winter, it is important to give warm air the chance to escape by opening windows or vents in a controlled manner as much as possible.
Kitchens and bathrooms are condensation hotspots as both cooking and showering release moisture into the air. Proper maintenance of your extractor fans will help to reduce the effects of this. If you already have a fan installed we strongly recommend it is cleaned on a regular basis. This can be something as simple as unclipping the front and taking the fan impeller out and cleaning it before re-fitting.
Because mould is so common many of us can wrongly assume it’s not a problem. However, as well as it being unsightly, regular and long-term exposure to mould may cause underlying health issues for anyone coming into contact with mould. These symptoms can include coughing and wheezing as well as some allergic reactions.
Black mould is one of the most common types of mould to appear in places regularly affected by condensation. It can develop in hidden spots such as behind furniture and kitchen units where ventilation can be restricted. Condensation can also occur under floors when insufficient air vents have been installed or they become blocked, and this can lead to Dry Rot affecting the floor. Once located, it is easy to identify as the wall surfaces will be damp and covered in black spots. Other tell-tale signs of black mould include a damp fusty smell, and in some cases building occupants may even complain of skin rashes, but this depends upon a persons’ individual physiological reaction to the mould.
Resolving condensation and mould problems
Positive Pressure Ventilation is the best control measure against black mould and works by forcing clean dry air from outside the building back into the premises thereby gently pressurising the property. This means humid damp air will be forced out through gaps, under doors and around windows where normally draughts find their way into the home. Within 6 hours the air inside the property can be completely changed. As the humidity levels begin to drop, moulds die back and cannot continue to thrive
To supplement the Positive Pressure system it might also be advantageous to install a heat recovery fan in humidity ‘hot spots’ like bathrooms and kitchens. These recover 75% of the heat which would normally be lost to the outside
In conclusion, to keep moulds at bay, like those caused by condensation, the most effective solution is preventing the build-up of humidity in the first place. If this proves difficult by simply increasing ventilation – especially in winter – then it’s best to call the experts who can professionally treat problem areas. Peter Cox surveyors will only install solutions they are confident will work and get rid of the problem.