Damp – a tenants guide to preventing and treating it

Damp – a tenants guide to preventing and treating it

9:10 AM, 6th January 2012, About 12 years ago 17

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Green, orange, black…… The wonderful colours of mould that you may spot in your house!

Damp can be a major problem in student houses. It can cause mould on the walls and furniture, and make timber window frames rot. It encourages mites and can increase the risk of respiratory illness and quite frankly, it is yuk!

Damp in student houses is usually caused by excessive condensation which is purely down to the amount of moisture in the air. With at least four adults in the house showering every day, plus cooking and the big no no of drying clothes in the house, the moisture level in the air increases so much that it can’t all escape, causing damp and mould.

Rooms: The first signs are usually around windows, where black mould will appear.

In addition to this, it will form in the silicone sealant around the bath, shower, and sinks. It may spread to the walls and the ceiling in the bathroom.

You may also spot an orangey mould too which is easily wipeable. 

If your furniture is against an exterior wall to the property, mould may also form behind here to it can spread to your clothes and your shoes.

Appliances: Mould will also form in the washing machine powder drawer and inside the machine. This is usually black.

If food is left in the fridge then it will form here too and this can spread.

As tenants you have a responsibility to keep the property in a good state of repair, and take steps to ensure it does not become a problem.

  • When showering and bathing, ensure you ventilate the room afterwards by opening the window and using extractor fans where provided.
  • In the kitchen, use the cooker hood and ventilation where provided and open windows to allow moisture to escape.
  • In the morning, if condensation is spotted on the window, wipe it down with kitchen roll or a cloth.
  • Don’t keep opened food in the fridge or cupboards past it’s sell by date.
  • Do not dry clothes on the radiators in the house. This is usually the biggest cause of mould problems.

If you start to see the first signs of black mould, it can be cleaned away easily using a bleach solution or specific mould spray. Make sure the cloth used is disposed of afterwards to avoid further contamination.

The longer the mould is left the worse it will get.

If you are concerned at all and the mould is spreading, you may want to contact your landlord or letting agent to take a look.

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Ian Ringrose

15:23 PM, 6th January 2012, About 12 years ago

We have all been “educated” to never leave windows open both to save energy and to stop break-ins.   Modem life with the complete household being out all day and showers being taken by most people most days does not help.  As I believe that a building to much how people live in real life, I think it is the buildings that need fixing.

I think the Landlord in a HMO should at least fit “continuous mechanical ventilation” in every wet room with an automatic humidity controlled boost.   Some housing departments are now fitting this type of extractor fun in ALL homes when they replace bathrooms, as they reduce the number of damp issues.  Often the ventilation unit is fitted so it can’t be turned off without the use of tools. A “positive input ventilation” unit can easily be fitted in most small homes and will often avoid any issues with condensation.   They are easy to fit as they just go in the loft with one opening needed in the ceiling.  These seem to be a very good quick fix for small homes with condensation issues.

The start of the art for new homes is “Heat recovery ventilations” these units remove the air from all the wet room, using the heat from this extracted air to warm the air that is pushed into all the other rooms.   They work VERY well, but unless the building is sealed to a very high standard, they will not save energy – in a high spec new build these units can save someone like 30% of the heating costs.

We moved into our 1930’s bungalow last winter and had lots of issues with damp.   A lot of trade’s people told us we needed new damp proof courses etc.  I learnt a lot about dump from http://www.dampdecay.co.uk/ and formed the view that we had a bad condensation problem and that I should fix the condensation problem before sorting out any other possible source of damp.

Being a bungalow, with both of us out at work all day, and my wife not feeling safe with any windows open overnight we needed a solution that did not depend on us leaving windows opens.

As our bungalow is large with a complex room layout, on-one could tell me if a “positive input ventilation” unit would work, likewise I did not know if “continuous mechanical ventilation” would be good enough.   My parents have a very early “Heat recovery ventilations” system in their bungalow that solved there ventilation problems.

So we decided to install a “Heat recovery ventilation” unit – so far this winter we have not had any dump or condensation.   Even the mirror in the bathroom remains clear when we shower.   All damp smells have gone.   Even when we come back from being away for a week the home smells fresh.    This is without us having to open windows or vents, the system just looks after it’s self – however the filters do need changing a few times a year.

The “return on investment” with the improvement to our quality of life has been well worth the cost.  As very few local trades people have experience in fitting these units, but they are not that hard to fit, I did all the duct work and fitting myself.     (If I value my time at the rate at get paid as an experienced computer programmer, the cost of my time to do the fitting was still a lot less than what we were quoted for fitting, if I ever have to fix a unit again it will be a lot quicker 2nd time round..)

We brought our unit from http://www.cvcdirect.co.uk , the give very useful advice on choosing a unit etc.   I went for the Itho (http://www.itho.co.uk) unit, their support department was very helpful and did not mind me ringing them with installation questions.   I got most of the ductwork from http://www.bes.co.uk as there prices were about half of what anyone else changed for duct – unlike most plumbing merchants they don’t inflate there “list price” so that they can then give their regular customers a 50% trade discount. 

In a rental property I would be more likely to fit a cheaper system, as having a better quality of air not does lead to more rent, and I don’t have to pay the heating or electric bills.  Also
finding a trade’s person that can fit a “continuous mechanical ventilation” fun in a bathroom
or a “positive input ventilation” unit would also be a lot easier.  

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

17:01 PM, 6th January 2012, About 12 years ago

Excellent post Ian, thanks for sharing this 🙂

Lynne Davis

18:36 PM, 7th January 2012, About 12 years ago

Very informative post, thanks Ian. We've just (today) had a Nuaire Drimaster PIV system fitted in one of our rentals - an inter-war 3-bed semi with mould problems - so it'll be interesting to see how effective it is. We paid £228 for the unit from http://www.dryhomes.net (owned by a company called Dampco) and haven't yet got the invoice for fitting but the electrician said it'd be between £150 and £200 depending on the amount of cable used, so that's around £400 in total.
(We also had a survey by Envirovent but they quoted about twice as much to supply & fit their system.)

Ian Ringrose

9:31 AM, 10th January 2012, About 12 years ago

I was very impressed with the designs of Envirovent systems, including how easy
it is to change filters, clean, replace motors etc, but they are very costly
due to the sales system when their franchisee gets a big cut.   Maybe someone can sort out a way for private
landlords to buy direct from them bypassing the franchisee, I know that public landlords
get big discounts from them.   

I did consider fitting 2
or 3 Nuaire Drimaster PIV to our bungalow, but
the quality of air is not that good in our loft as there have been past issues
with mould due to the lack of soffit vents (the first job I did when we moved
in!).   For retrofitting to normal house,
I think the Nuaire Drimaster PIV and/or good bathroom/kitchen fans would be my
first choose.

10:31 AM, 10th January 2012, About 12 years ago

This is all such good information. I wish I'd seen this post 18 months ago before I paid for the DPC only to find my windows rotting and my computer sitting in a puddle because of condensation issues. Live and learn! Thank you so much for sharing such useful info. Time to book a survey!

Sam Addison

10:43 AM, 10th January 2012, About 12 years ago

We built our own home 2002/3 and alongside massive insulation we installed whole house ventilation and heat recovery. The components cost about £800 at the time and I installed it myself. (FYI 3000 sq ft house/5 beds)

Systems have improved since then and if I did it again I would go for a system that refrigerated the outgoing air (air source heat pump) to heat the house.

We have no problems with damp and have not had to have the system serviced because it is so simple.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

12:44 PM, 10th January 2012, About 12 years ago

I had an Envirovent system fitted in one of my properties last year. Got a big discount for being an NLA member. discount was bigger than membership fee 😉

I am a big fan of Envirovent now, fixed my problem.

The franchisee was a good chap too. He did free surveys on 4 of my properties. Recommended his systems for two and we fitted one to try it out. We will be doing the second

Ian Ringrose

16:09 PM, 10th January 2012, About 12 years ago

What do you do about cleaning of filters?


(I have images of agents
charging a lot to send a ventilation company in to clean the filters as it is
too complex for them to understand.  I
don’t think I would trust a tenant to remember to change/clean the filters.)

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

0:17 AM, 11th January 2012, About 12 years ago

Filters were not mentioned for the unit I purchased, you've got me thinking now

15:10 PM, 11th January 2012, About 12 years ago

Be interested to hear the outcome if they have to be serviced/ replaced.

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