Dampness

The symptoms of excess moisture and dampness
  • Musty smells in rooms that are closed for any period of time.
  • Damp or mould on clothes or shoes in wardrobes.
  • Mould or mildew forming behind paintings, mirrors etc.
  • Stains or watermarks on ceilings or walls.
  • Mould on ceilings and walls, particularly in kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Problems with areas of rotting wood in the structure of your house.
  • Damp or mould under the house.
  • Condensation on windows, especially in bedrooms, isn't necessarily a sign of dampness if it only happens occasionally during winter.
  • Tackle home dampness problems at their source and ensure you have adequate home insulation, heat and ventilation.
If you are having issues with excessive moisture/dampness and poor indoor air quality, follow these steps:
  • Ventilate your bathroom, kitchen and laundry ventilation – leave window open.
  • Check under your house. If you can get under your floor check for signs of dampness there. Look for any mould or mildew. Take some dirt and rub it firmly on your hand – if it stains like mud, there is probably too much moisture present.
  • There are several things you can do to fix under floor damp:
  • Check for water getting under the floor from drainage, guttering, downpipes or plumbing problems.
  • Uncover any vents that may have become blocked by plants, soil or to keep pests out. Clear the subfloor area of any obstructions.
  • Get vents installed if there aren't any.
  • Put a vapour barrier down (i.e. thick polythene sheeting) on the ground. This keeps the moisture in the ground and stops the air under the floor from getting damp.
  • Look for leaks in wall and roof claddings and flashings. Also check for leaks in plumbing services, including moisture getting into walls or floors near showers and baths. Such leaks are often hidden and can go unnoticed for a long time.
  • Avoid drying your clothes inside. It is better to dry them outside in the sun and wind, or when the weather doesn't allow this, use an externally vented clothes dryer.
  • Use lids on pots when cooking to reduce moisture release and to conserve energy.
  • Avoid using unflued gas heaters as they release large amounts of moisture and toxic combustion gases into your house. Never use unflued gas heaters in bedrooms.
  • Keep furniture away from external walls, especially beds. Similarly, keep mattresses off cold floors; put them on a bed base which enables air to circulate underneath.
  • Leave wardrobes slightly open for ventilation.
  • Look for mould regularly and remove it if you find any. If you find any mould, remove it by spraying with white vinegar, let set, then wipe with a clean cloth, soap and water. Throw away the cloth afterwards.
  • If you do use a dehumidifier, run it together with a heater. Having a warm room makes it easier for a dehumidifier to extract moisture and while doing so it will also pump out more heat than it consumes in electricity, thereby making it easier and more efficient to heat the room!
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