Most social homes in Scotland are of good quality. However, damp is a big issue for many households thanks to the nation’s climate, where we experience wetter and colder weather for a lot of the year.
As we enter winter, where this issue can be exacerbated, here is some useful information about damp, what causes it, what to look for, and what you should do.
What is damp and what causes it?
Damp in a house is caused by an excess of moisture on internal walls and surfaces that has no way of escaping. The most common form of dampness in a house is condensation. Condensation forms when warm air inside a building meets a cold surface like a wall, window or even furniture and leaves drops of water on the surface. It tends to be worse in winter, but if left unresolved it can be an issue all year round.
Condensation is commonly caused by steam from hot showers, drying clothes inside, and cooking. These common household activities can release an average of six to twelve litres of water each day into the atmosphere. If there’s no way for that excess moisture to escape, it could eventually lead to damp and mould problems.
There are other types of damp including penetrating and rising damp. Penetrating damp is caused by water leaking through walls. It tends to happen as a result of structural problems, such as faulty guttering or roofing, or cracks in external walls. Rising damp is a relatively rare form of damp, that affects the walls of buildings. It occurs when moisture from the ground level travels up through the walls by capillary action.
What should I look out for?
The first sign of condensation is usually moisture drops on walls, mirrors or windows. While this may not be troublesome right away, the effects of condensation can worsen and lead to damp and mould.
Keep an eye out for the following signs:
- A musty, damp smell
- Patches of discoloured paint or wallpaper on a wall
- Excessive water droplets on windows or walls
- Dark patches of mould on the walls, floors, ceilings, or around windows
- Rotting or damaged skirting boards
- Walls that are always cold to touch
- Lifting or peeling wallpaper that won’t stick back down
- Increased humidity in the air
What can I do to prevent damp, mould and condensation?
- Close the door and open windows when you’re using the kitchen or bathroom. Use an extractor fan if you have one
- Reduce the temperature of your shower
- Use pan lids when you’re cooking
- When drying your washing, hang clothes outdoors where possible. Avoid drying clothes on radiators but if you have to, try and do it in a single room, keeping the door closed and the room well ventilated and heated.
- Consider buying a dehumidifier. They tackle mould but also help your clothes to dry quicker too.
- Open trickle vents in windows
- Regularly open your windows to air your house
- Place furniture a couple of inches away from external walls
- Ensure carpets have a good underlay beneath them
- Air your wardrobes and cupboards occasionally and keep clutter to a minimum. Consider extending carpets into integrated wardrobes too.
- Make sure your tumble dryer is vented outside. If you have a condensing tumble drier keep the window open and the door closed while in use.
- Try and keep your home heated to a minimum of 15C (higher if you are elderly or have health problems). Make sure you heat your whole house and not just the rooms you use as this will create cold spots throughout your house. If you are struggling with your energy bills, then please get in touch so we can put you in touch with our partner, Changeworks. They will be able to offer support, advice and point you in the direction of any financial help that may be available to you.
What if that doesn’t help or it starts to get worse?
Damp can be a serious problem as it can cause damage to a buildings infrastructure. It is a problem that can affect any home and can be a threat to your health if left untreated.
If left untreated damp and mould can have an affect on your health, causing things like; runny nose, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation.
We take all reports of damp, mould and condensation very seriously. If you are worried about damp or mould in your home, then please get in touch with us as soon as possible.