Damp and mould in the home can harm our health. But we can take steps to stop it in its tracks
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Now that it’s colder we have to be extra vigilant against damp and mould in our home.
It doesn’t just look and smell bad – it can have a serious effect on our health as well.
With very small amounts of mould in our home, it’s sometimes ok to wipe it off ourselves. But the spores that are released can be really bad for us. So if we have breathing problems or a long-term illness then it’s better if we leave the mould for someone else to tackle.
Then we should try to get to the bottom of what’s causing the damp or mould. If we’re sure we don’t have a leak, then it’s more than likely to be caused by condensation.
Reduce the moisture
A dehumidifier can really help to keep condensation at bay. They remove moisture from the air so we need to choose the right one for the size of our room – small ones may not be up to the job if we have large or very damp rooms.
This one will be effective on a room of 25 square metres.
Dehumidifiers aren’t too expensive to run, coming in at around 5p an hour for a small one to 12p an hour for a bigger model.
If we can’t stretch to that, a budget alternative is a moisture absorber. These aren’t electrical, but contain crystals that draw in moisture. They’re typically under £15, but they only last for around three months before having to be replaced.
To keep condensation at bay, here’s the Quids in! list of dos and don’ts.
Keep lids on pans when cooking
Open windows if we’re doing something that creates steam
And use an extractor fan too (if we have one) wherever there’s steam
Keep doors closed to keep the steam in one room
Have window vents open (these are little mechanisms on modern windows that let more air in and out)
Open windows on each side of our home for at least a few minutes a couple of times a day
Leave gaps between walls and furniture to let air flow around the room
Try to heat cold spots
Keep the home warm
Dry clothes outside when possible
Let the temperature drop below 15C in any room
Dry clothes over radiators
Block off air vents
Over-fill cupboards and wardrobes to allow air to flow
The causes of mould
Why are so many homes blighted by the black stuff on walls and windows? And why does the problem get worse in the winter?
Well, when steam or moisture hits a cold surface the moisture can settle and cause mould to grow. That’s why we’re more likely to see it in rooms that are harder to heat or in colder corners of our home. Sometimes it can be worse on the north side of a building, as this will get less sun throughout the year.
Mould and damp can also build up in places that are harder to see or get to. That could be behind furniture or under wallpaper. In this case we might notice a musty smell before we see anything.
We might see this moisture as condensation on our windows or window sills. It’s created when we cook, shower and dry clothes inside. It’s even caused by our houseplants and when we breathe!
A small amount of condensation is normal, but we should keep an eye on it to make sure the problem isn’t getting worse.
Moisture could also be getting into our home via a leaky window or roof. Groundwater can seep up into our homes too if we have poor insulation.
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