LEAKS DAMP AND CONDENSATION
Prior to decorating you will need to eradicate any damp problems, obviously there can be many causes of damp in your home and identifying where or what is causing the damp is the first priority.
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The most common problem we encounter is a leak from a bathroom above.
This could be a ceiling and wall in your home or if your in a flat, from your neighbour above.
The leak appears as a series of lines or patches orange or yellow in colour, if the leak in not remidied the ceiling will eventually fall down in this area.
1. fix the leak - contact a plumber or talk to your neighbour urgently.
2. once fixed contact us, we can repair and redecorate the ceiling or wall affected.
Water damage to outside walls most commonly occur under windows which are not effectivly sealed on the outside, eg, the seal between window and wall or a timber window sill and stone sill, it can also be coming through the wall due to pointing defects or a good example is where a water gas or drainage pipe has been fitted and not effectivly sealed.
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No one wants to live in a damp home. Damp can cause mould on walls and furniture and cause wooden window frames to rot.
Some damp is caused by condensation. This can lead to a growth in mould that appears as a cloud of little black dots. For other kinds of damp, see box below.
Condensation occurs when moist air comes into contact with a colder surface like a wall, window, mirror etc. The air can’t hold the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. It also occurs in places the air is still, like the corners of rooms or behind wardrobes and other furniture.
How to reduce condensation at home
1) Produce less moisture
Simple things make a huge difference, like covering pans when cooking, drying clothes outdoors, venting your tumble dryer to the outside and not using paraffin heaters or flue-less bottled gas heaters.
2) Let the damp air out and the fresh air in
Consider installing extractor fans in your kitchen and bathroom if they don’t have one already, and shut the doors between these rooms and the rest of the house when they get steamy. Open your windows when you can, and allow the air to circulate behind furniture and through cupboards and wardrobes.
3) Insulate and draught-proof your home
Warm homes suffer less from condensation, so you should make sure your house is well insulated. This means insulating your loft to the recommended depth of 270 mm (about 11 inches), and your cavity walls (if your house has them). Your windows and external doors should be draught-proofed, and you should consider secondary glazing if your windows are draughty.
4) Heat your home a little more
Keep a low background heat in unused rooms. Use a thermostat on the heater or radiator, and remember to air the rooms from time to time.
Other actions you can take include fitting condensation channels and sponge strips (available from DIY shops) to windows. These catch dripping condensation and prevent the build-up of water. If you wipe down windows and sills every morning, this will help, but be sure to wring out the cloth rather than dry it on a radiator.
A dehumidifier will help a lot, though a decent one will set you back around £100 and they cost about the same to run as a fridge.
And finally, to get rid of mould on walls and other surfaces, wipe down the affected areas with a fungicidal wash. Follow the manufacturer’s guidance carefully.
Condensation is not the only cause of damp
‘Penetrating damp’ is caused by moisture coming into the house through leaking or cracked pipework, a damaged roof, blocked guttering, gaps around window frames and cracked or defective rendering and brickwork. All these problems can be remedied.
‘Rising damp’ is due to a defective (or non-existent) damp course. This will leave a ‘tide mark’ about a meter above the floor. Fixing rising damp is a job for a qualified builder.
NB: Newly built homes can sometimes feel damp because the water used during its construction is still drying out.
Molds are ubiquitous in nature, and mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust. However, when spores are present in large quantities, they are a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems.
Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. The term "toxic mold" refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, not to all molds.Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some cases death. Prolonged exposure, e.g., daily workplace exposure, can be particularly harmful.Symptoms of mold exposure
- Nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose
- Eye irritation, such as itchy, red, watery eyes
- Respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, chest tightness
- Throat irritation
- Skin irritation, such as a rash
Infants may develop respiratory symptoms as a result of exposure to a specific type of fungal mold, called Penicillium. Infants will begin to show respiratory problems if they have a persistent cough and/or wheeze. The number of days that a child will suffer from respiratory symptoms during their first year of life increases by an average of 20% every time the level of Penicillium increases. The levels are deemed no mold to low level, from low to intermediate, from intermediate to high.
Mold exposures have a variety of health effects depending on the person, some people are more sensitive to mold than others. Exposure to mold can cause a number of health issues such as; throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, cough and wheezing, as well as skin irritation in some cases. People at higher risk for mold allergies are people with chronic lung illnesses, which will result in more severe reactions when exposed to mold.
There has been sufficient evidence that damp indoor environments are correlated with upper respiratory tract symptoms such as; coughing, and wheezing in people with asthma.Causes & growing conditions
Molds are found everywhere inside and outside, and can grow on almost any substance when moisture is present. Molds reproduce by spores, which can be carried by air currents. When these spores land on a moist surface that is suitable for life, they begin to grow. Mold is normally found indoors at levels that do not affect most healthy individuals.
Because common building materials are capable of sustaining mold growth, and mold spores are ubiquitous, mold growth in an indoor environment is typically related to water or moisture indoors. Mold growth may also be caused by incomplete drying of flooring materials such as concrete. Flooding, leaky roofs, building maintenance problems, or indoor plumbing problems can lead to mold growth inside.
For significant mold growth to occur, there must be a source of water (which could be invisible humidity), a source of food, and a substrate capable of sustaining growth. Common building materials, such as plywood, drywall, furring strips, carpets, and carpet padding are food for molds. In carpet, invisible dust and cellulose are the food sources (see also dust mites). After a single incident of water damage occurs in a building, molds grow inside walls and then become dormant until a subsequent incident of high humidity; this illustrates how mold can appear to be a sudden problem, long after a previous flood or water incident that did not produce such a problem. The right conditions reactivate mold. Studies also show that mycotoxin levels are perceptibly higher in buildings that have once had a water incident (source: CMHC).
Spores need three things to grow into mold:
- Nutrients: Cellulose is a common food for spores in an indoor environment. It is the part of the cell wall of green plants.
- Moisture: Moisture is required to begin the decaying process caused by the mold.
- Time: Mold growth begins between 24 hours and 10 days from the provision of the growing conditions. There is no known way to date mold.
Mold colonies can grow inside building structures. The main problem with the presence of mold in buildings is the inhalation of mycotoxins. Molds may produce an identifiable smell. Growth is fostered by moisture. After a flood or major leak, mycotoxin levels are higher in the building even after it has dried out (source: CMHC).
Food sources for molds in buildings include cellulose-based materials, such as wood, cardboard, and the paper facing on both sides of drywall, and all other kinds of organic matter, such as soap, fabrics, and dust containing skin cells. If a house has mold, the moisture may be from the basement or crawl space, a leaking roof, or a leak in plumbing pipes behind the walls. People residing in a house also contribute moisture through normal breathing and perspiration. Insufficient ventilation can further enable moisture build-up. Visible mold colonies may form where ventilation is poorest, and on perimeter walls, because they are coolest, thus closest to the dew point.
If there are mold problems in a house only during certain times of the year, then it is probably either too air-tight, or too drafty. Mold problems occur in airtight homes more frequently in the warmer months (when humidity reaches high levels inside the house, and moisture is trapped), and occur in drafty homes more frequently in the colder months (when warm air escapes from the living area into unconditioned space, and condenses). If a house is artificially humidified during the winter, this can create conditions favorable to mold. Moving air may prevent mold from growing since it has the same desiccating effect as lowering humidity. Molds grow best in warm temperatures, 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, though some growth may occur anywhere between 32 and 95 degrees.
Removing one of the three requirements for mold reduces or eliminates the new growth of mold. These three requirements are 1) Moisture, 2) Food source for the mold spores (dust, dander, etc.), and 3) Warmth (mold generally does not grow in cold environments).
HVAC systems can create all three requirements for significant mold growth. The A/C system creates a difference in temperature that allows/causes condensation to occur. The high rate of dusty air movement through an HVAC system may create ample sources of food for the mold. And finally, since the A/C system is not always running - the ability for warm conditions to exist on a regular basis allows for the final component for active mold growth.
Because the HVAC system circulates air contaminated with mold spores and sometimes toxins, it is vital to prevent any three of the environments required for mold growth. A) Highly effective return air filtration systems are available that eliminate up to 99.9% of dust accumulation (as compared to 5% elimination by typical HVAC air filters). These newer filtration systems usually require modification to existing HVAC systems to allow for the larger size of electrostatic 99.9% filters. However, thorough cleaning of the HVAC system is required before usage of high efficiency filtration systems will help. Once mold is established, the mold growth and dust accumulation must be removed. B) Insulation of supply air ducts helps to reduce or eliminate the condensation that ultimately creates the moisture required for mold growth. This insulation should be placed externally on the air ducts, because internal insulation provides a dust capture and breeding ground for mold.