Tag Archives: Damp Prevention

Damp – whoose to blame the tennant or the Housing Association?

Spoke to a customer this morning who asked if the fact that his Housing Association windows were old and drafty was the reason why he had condensation and mould on his walls.

I knew what he was fishing for because he said that he had been onto his housing association loads of time with no joy, he wanted me to tell him that the incoming draft would be the root cause of his mould.  In his mind there had to be a connection between the cold, damp air coming in and the condensation.

Unfortunately for him this is not the case and it just shows that although as many as a fifth of British housing is said to be damp we understand very little about our own houses and our own environment.

The cold air coming in might well contain a large amount of moisture, especially in the winter, but it will be heated up by our heating systems when it comes into the house, this reduces it’s relative humidity and makes the air less likely to condense.

Condensation and mould growth is a combination of two main factors, firstly the amount of moisture we produce and secondly the surface temperature where the mould and condensation occurs.

We produce the moisture through bathing, washing, showering, cooking and drying washing etc.  In winter this moisture laden air stays in the house because we open doors and windows less as it is cold outside.

Surfaces are cold because either they are single glazed windows rather than double glazed, or older, poor quality double glazed windows.  Walls have mould growth mainly on the colder north facing side of the house and in the corners where the builders failed to push the insulation right into the corners.

The drafty windows will actually be helping to reduce the amount of mould and condensation that he has because if he had wells sealed single glazed windows then there would less air exchange with outside but the surface of his windows would still be cold for all of the damp air to condense.  When the fresh air from outside comes into the house it pushes some of the air that is already in the house out, it is then heated and dried and you would have less chance of mould and condensation occurring. 

So should we ventilate more?

This is the question that came up on the Jeremy Vine radio programme a couple of weeks back and the answer, as it is to most questions is – in moderation.

No-one wants lots of cold air coming into their home and the more cold air you have coming in the more hot air you have being forced out.  That is hot air that you have paid to heat and it is now being thrown outside.  The cold air that you have coming in you will pay to heat and then you will throw it away outside again.

You can see here you need a balance or it becomes expensive.  Make sure that you have good extraction fans in the bathroom and in the kitchen and then let a dehumidifier take care of the rest.  The dehumidifier will dry the air in the home, reacting to changes in the levels of moisture in the air as you shower or dry washing.  Your home will feel warmer, you will have less drafts and your heating bills will be cheaper.

The above is the balance that the Housing Association should be helping it’s tenant achieve and as I wrote last week the Housing Associations should be doing more to educate their tenants and helping them to understand how they can help themselves. 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Damp Housing – the Tenant verses the Council

Local newspapers are a never ending source of stories about damp housing.  Type those words into Google news and hardly a week goes by without a tenant complaining about the quality of their council housing via the local paper.  The stories are always very similar, tenant blames council, council blames tenant, paper shows photos of mouldy walls and either an elderly tenant or a single mum with small children.

I have a great deal of sympathy for both parties in the story, the tenants are living in mouldy houses and the councils often do have grounds for saying that it is not their fault.  I have less sympathy for the councils though as they are paid professionals and they should know better and deal with the issues months or years earlier to prevent the home getting into the state it is in by the time the newspaper photograper arrives.

When you look at the detail of these newspaper articles you will always find a line where the council says something along the lines of ‘we have sent an expert round and he has concluded that it is only condensation……’  That’s fine but the tenant is still unhappy and the walls are still mouldy, so the problem still exists.

What I feel the council should be doing.

What the council should be doing I feel is;

• Improving the quality of cavity wall insulation in their housing stock so that the walls have a higher surface temperature and the chances of mould and condensation forming  will be greatly reduced.

• Ensure that the property has adequate ventilation in the bathroom and kitchen.

• Educate the tenant about what happens to the moisture that they produce and its relationship to the mould and condensation.

• If necessary provide the tenant with a dehumidifier and explain how it can help and again educate them that they are not expensive to run and that they are an important weapon in keeping heating bills down and the air healthy.

Point three is very important because the comments in the media that followed the recent Mackintosh School of Architecture report on the effects of drying laundry in the home proved that many people are totally unaware of the amount of moisture that is put into the air by drying washing indoors.

If the council do the above and the tenant then uses a combination of ventilation and the dehumidifier then they will not get the mould.  But there is no point in the tenant just being given a dehumidifier without any instruction; they need to be educated about how to use it, the true story behind running costs and the health and wealth benefits that will follow.  There is also no point in the council putting the dehumidifier in for a short period of time, the dehumidifier will be needed throughout the year as long as the tenant remains and the surface temperature of the walls and windows remains low enough for condensation and mould to form.

So the next time you read a story in your local paper just think that for the sake of a £159.99 dehumidifier and some decent insulation the council could of avoided al of this grief and bad publicity.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

BBC reporting drying laundry is bad for your health – just as we reported on this blog!

On June 26th of this year I blogged that drying washing indoors is bad for your health (the article is here) because of the amount of moisture that it puts into the air and the knock on effect that the moisture has on people’s health.

Today a report has been released by the Mackintosh School of Architecture who say that people are unaware of how much moisture drying washing adds to the air and the effect that it has.

In the survey 87% of the homes in Glasgow dried washing indoors and 25% of the homes had a particular mould spore that is know to cause lung infections in people with weakened immune systems.

The link between drying washing indoors over winter, the resulting increase in relative humidity and the increase in mould spores and dustmites which will lead to allergic reactions and respiratory problems is one that we have discussed for a very long time now.  The health issues are just one of the side effects of drying washing, the other is an increase in energy bills to heat this damp air.

Although the reports suggests new homes should be built with dedicated drying areas this will not help all of those living in damp housing currently.  You could just open the window and let cold air in and hot air out to ventilate the rooms but no-one likes a cold draft and all of that cold air just needs to be reheated again at a significant cost.

For me the pratical, simple and cost effective solution is to use a dehumidifier.  The dehumidifier will dry the clothes, make the home feel warmer and will keep the heating bill down as well as preventing mould and dustmites from reproducing.  By far and away the most popular with Meaco customers is the Meaco DD8L because it is quiet and yet able to dry a load of washing no problem.

It will be interesting as to what the listeners to Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime show will make of the debate today.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Why drying your washing can be bad for your health!

Washing our clothes is something that we all have to do on a daily basis and it is a chore that is absolutely necessary, but for some it could be damaging their health!

We are not talking about those who have a tumble dryer or dry their washing outside, it is those that have to dry their washing indoors and use a clothes horse or a hang their washing on radiators that are at greatest risk.  Smaller properties with no room for a tumble dryer and no access to the outside to dry their washing are at greatest risk.  With the first rung on the property ladder becoming harder and harder to reach, more and more people are living in such properties.

MEACO_25L_LAUNDRY_900Washing dries because it wants to be in equilibrium with its surroundings, if the air is dry then it will release its moisture so that it can be the same as the air around it.  If the air is already damp then it will take longer for the washing to dry.  Simple really and something that anyone who has ever hung washing out on a line will of worked out for themselves.
The problems starts from around June/July onwards when the relative humidity of the air in the summer months increases and the moisture from the laundry adds to this and helps mould to grow on cool spots on the wall.

As we move from summer into autumn and then onwards into winter we keep our windows closed for longer and longer to stop cold draughts and this in turn traps the moisture inside the property and is added to by the moisture from showering, bathing, cooking and breathing.  All of this starts to add up in the air, the washing takes longer and longer to dry and condensation will probably start to form on windows.

As well as the condensation and mould that we can actually see the high levels of humidity

Excess moisture in the home can lead to damp forming around the windows

Damp around a window is a common problem in damp homes.

in the air also have more invisible effects.  Dust Mites reproduce when the relative humidity is high and unfortunately it is their droppings that contain the allergen that some are allergic to when inhaled.  Mould grows when the relative humidity is above 68%rh and releases mould spores (seeds) to spread around the house, again it is the inhalation of these spores that causes the problems.

All of these triggers are directly linked to an increase in relative humidity in the property caused by the way that we live our lives.  But if you do not want to open the windows to let heated air out and cold air in, then what can you do?

Using a dehumidifier with a Laundry Mode will reduce the amount of moisture in the air which will have the following knock on effects;

• Mould will not grow
• Dust Mites rate of reproduction will reduce
• The property will feel warmer and will be cheaper to heat
• No cold draughts
• Washing will dry faster
• Condensation will be eliminated or reduced
• Walls and surfaces will have to be cleaned with mould remover and redecorated less often
• Clothes in built in wardrobes will not smell musty
• The property in general will be a healthier place to live

In order to dry washing efficiently you should position a Laundry Drying dehumidifier

A clothes horse to help your dehumidifier dry your washing

Position the clothes horse next to the dehumidifier and put them both in a small room with the door closed.

next to the washing in a small room (the kitchen perhaps) and close the door.  The dehumidifier will dry the air within the kitchen to around 35%rh and the washing will release its moisture from the laundry to be in equilibrium with the air in the room.  The water that is released into the air will be collected by the dehumidifier and will not be able to travel around the property and will therefore not be able to create damp issues.  If you are able to position the washing so that the dry air coming out of the dehumidifier hits the washing then it will dry even faster (think windy day outside and washing on the line).

So using a dehumidifier can significantly improve the quality of life in your property, something that Meaco customers agree with, when surveyed 91% of Meaco customers said that using their Meaco dehumidifier enhanced their quality of life.  But you do need the right type of dehumidifier, buying the wrong one can result in disappointment.

Most of the issues we are talking about here are going to occur in flats, apartments and smaller terraced houses or maisonettes.  So if the property is small then you don’t want a large dehumidifier and you want a quiet dehumidifier.  Weight is also an issue because you will be moving it to the room that you will be using to dry the washing in and then back to a central location (hallway probably).

This is why Meaco have designed dehumidifiers that can dry laundy quickly and cheaply and then be a joy to use throughout the rest of the day to keep the rest of your home dry and damp free.

The Meaco DD8L Zambezi and the  Meaco 25L Low Energy Dehumidifier have quickly become firm favourites with flat owners because they tick all of the right boxes as well as providing extra warmth to the space.

So drying your washing the Meaco way can improve your health, wealth and enhance your quality of life.  Whoever would of thought that a dehumidifier could be so fundamentally important.

If you are living with damp and think that a dehumidifier might help then please feel free to contact Meaco on 01483 234900 for a chat and advice.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Meaco 20L Dehumidifier and My Family

The Meaco 20L dehumidifier is the one that I choose to use at home and it sits quite happily outside the bathroom door doing its thing. But why do we choose the Meaco 20L rather than any other dehumidifier when we have access to every model in the Meaco range and the two models from Mitsubishi Electric?

The short and honest answer is that my wife likes it!  But that makes for a very short blog piece so to expand slightly.

Looks

The 20L is a nice looking dehumidifier there is no doubt about that.  The low profile hides its wheels giving it a sleeker look.  Dehumidifiers that are just a white box plonked on four black castors are so last season!

Noise

Very important because it sits on the landing outside the shower room and is not far from all of the bedroom doors.  The sound is such that no-one has ever complained about the Meaco 20L and believe me the family are not slow in complaining about a noisy dehumidifier!

Performance

Rather than give a technical answer lets just say that it keeps the shower room mould free which is what we want.  Job done.

Cost

The hallway is nice and warm because the house is fairly modern and the extension work that we had done a few years back means that the insulation levels are up to date.  Therefore the 20L is the cheapest way for us to take the water out of the air.  If the hallway was cold we would probably have gone for the DD8L to add some warmth.

The fact that the 20L turns off when the humidity goes down but then samples the air every 30 minutes means that it spots when someone has a shower and turns itself back on the dry the air.  Hats off to whoever thought of that idea!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail