Mould and Condensation
Mould and condensation is one of the biggest problems facing our tenants. This section aims to help you understand what condensation is and how it, and mould growth, can be minimised.
What is Condensation?
Condensation occurs where moist warm air comes into contact with colder dryer air, or surface. Due to this, condensation forms more during the colder months but occurs year-round. Condensation is more noticeable on non-absorbent surfaces (i.e. windows, window sills, mirrors or tiles) but it can form on any surface and may not be noticed until mould growth or rotting of material occurs. Air contains varying amounts of moisture (especially after cooking or washing), but it is important to maintain lower humidity levels in the property to prevent excess condensation, leading to mould growth.
How to Reduce Condensation and Prevent Mould Growth:
Ventilation and Insulation
It is possible to avoid condensation altogether by adequately venting moist air from the room in which it is generated. For rooms that tend to generate more moisture (such as bathrooms and kitchens), the humidity can spread to cooler parts of the house if not properly ventilated.
Ventilation is only effective if it is consistent throughout the whole property. Condensation is encouraged by poor air circulation where stagnant air pockets form (behind furniture and in cupboards) and the first evidence is often the appearance of mould growth and a musty smell on clothes in wardrobes. Warm moist air will rise to the highest points in the building, affecting the rooms located there even if they do not appear damp, so keep an eye on those areas as well.
- Check if your windows have trickle vents (small strip of plastic at the top of window frames with a tab that opens the vents when pushed). Keep these open at all times to create a small draft- this should be small enough that you won't notice a difference in temperature etc, but sufficient enough to allow excess moisture to escape the property.
- Ventilate your bathroom and kitchen for about 10 to 20 minutes after use by opening a small top window. Use an extractor fan if fitted - they are cheap to run and very effective. Most switches are located above the bathroom door in the hallway. Remember to close all windows for security after use, especially if you are leaving the property.
- Ventilate other rooms by leaving a window slightly open at night or use trickle ventilators if fitted. Remember to close all windows for security after use, especially if you are leaving the property.
- Help reduce overnight condensation by "cross ventilating" the house. Open a small window downstairs to the first notch and the same to a small window upstairs. They should be on opposite sides of the house, or diagonally opposite if you live in a flat. At the same time open the internal room doors - this will allow air to circulate throughout the house. This type of cross ventilation should be carried out for about 30 minutes every day if possible. (Again, make sure those accessible windows will not cause a security problem and remember to close them before you go out.)
- Turn on the extractor fan (oven hood) whilst cooking and washing dishes- you can leave this running on the lowest setting for 10-20 minutes after to remove excess steam
- Run a dehumidifier, particularly if you are leaving any washing to dry inside your property (place the machine next to the drying clothing), or leave the machine running for a few hours in areas of the house that feel damper/are prone to excess condensation. Dehumidifiers are very efficient and don't cost much to run periodically. Please remember to empty the water container when required.
Many tenants may be tempted to leave the heating off in an effect to save money, however, this is a major factor in increasing the chances of mould growing in your property. The modern lifestyle means that many houses remain unoccupied and unheated throughout the greater part of the day, allowing the fabric of the building to cool down. Cold walls and masonry hold more moisture which adds to the cooling effect, creating a cycle of increasing moisture levels.
- Always try and keep some background heating on in the house to maintain warmer surfaces and help control condensation, particularly in colder months. Please note smaller, portable heaters will not be as effective. The heating does not need to be on a high setting, but a regular, low to medium setting will help
- Avoid drying clothes on radiators (this is also a fire safety risk). This allows the heat to spread evenly, and more quickly throughout the room
- If you don't have heating in every room, keep the doors of unheated rooms open to allow some heat into them.
The best way to combat mould growth is through prevention, by maintaining proper ventilation and heating as explained above. Small steps taken each day will help in the overall quality of your stay at a property which is kept clean and damp-free. Here are some basic steps you should do straight away to avoid condensation and mould growth:
- Dry your windows and window sills every morning as well as surfaces in the kitchen or bathroom, which have collected condensation. Make sure to put the clothes through a washing cycle when required and allow to dry thoroughly before use
- Cook with pan lids on, and turn the heat down once the water has boiled- keep the extractor fan on for longer to remove excess moisture
- When filling your bath, run the cold water first then add the hot. This will significantly reduce the steam (up to, which leads to condensation, very significantly (up to 90%).
- Keep kitchen and bathroom doors closed when you are using these rooms to prevent moisture from escaping into the rest of the house.
- Do not draught-proof rooms with a condensation problem or where there is a heater or cooker that burns gas or solid fuel.
- Do not draught-proof bathroom or kitchen windows, as this will prevent some natural, helpful ventilation.
- Do not block ventilators or airbricks for the same reason.
- Mould growth on clothes or other stored items is very difficult to prevent because it is necessary to provide good air movement in wardrobes and cupboards. The following hints should prove helpful:
- Keep a small gap between large pieces of furniture and the walls.
- Where possible place wardrobes and furniture against internal walls.
- Try to avoid overfilling wardrobes and cupboards, as this will restrict air circulation.
- Keep moisture absorbents inside wardrobes and cupboards- these can be bought at commercial stores in the home section and are very cheap. Remember to replace these as directed by product instructions
- Ensure clothing is fully dried before placing back into storage
If you already have mould growth:
- Log a ticket onto our online maintenance system and the maintenance team will arrange to visit the property and determine the next steps to take
- Run a dehumidifier near the affected areas and keep the property well-ventilated and heated to begin removing excess moisture
Treat the affected areas with commercial cleaners- please remember some cleaners will leave stains (which may affect your deposit return) so make sure to follow product instructions and that you are using them in the areas they are made for
Please note the Landlord will only be able to treat the area and paint over it once it has dried thoroughly