Mould in SFA/SSFA
Mould in houses
There are two underlying reasons why mould might appear in a house - structural reasons and condensation.
Structural issues are related to the fabric of the building which means water or moisture is getting into the property. Examples of the types of problems that occur include:
- Water leaks from windows, roof, downspouts, guttering, internal plumbing and flooding
- Penetrating damp through walls
- Rising damp – usually caused by non-existent or defective damp proof courses
- Wet or damp basements or crawl spaces
Condensation is caused by something happening inside the house, such as:
- High relative humidity in the air
- Too much water vapour or steam being generated, through cooking, washing, showering and clothes drying
- Inadequate ventilation or not using the extractor fans, vents and windows that are available
- Inadequate heating or too much heat
- Inadequate cleaning and drying after major water leaks and bursts or floods
So, how do you tell whether the mould in your home is caused by a structural issue or from excessive condensation? Mould due to structural issues tends to appear in the following places:
In the house
- Walls under the bottom corners of windows
- Floors around toilets and under dishwashers
- Walls around un-insulated cold-water pipes
- Around the chimney in the attic
- Near damaged or blocked downspouts
- Basement - Bottom of walls, corners and floors
- Bottoms of walls - bridged or earth covered damp proof courses
In the basement
- Damp walls or floors
- Under boxes or carpets
- Cracks and holes
- Efflorescence (a harmless, white powdery deposit on the surface of the wall which is a sign of moisture within the home)
Mould from condensation tends to be seen in the following areas:
- On ceilings over the bath or shower
- Window glass, sills and frames
- Under or behind the toilet and cistern
- Exterior walls and tiled surfaces
- Windows, in the bottom corners, sides or on the glass
- Behind dressers and wardrobes on exterior walls
- Particularly on the top corners of the bedroom walls which are the furthest from any heating source
In the basement
- Areas where a dry wall is attached to an exterior wall
In Britain, condensation is mainly a winter problem when warm moist air is generated in areas like kitchens and bathrooms and then travels to colder parts of the house.
The moisture in the air comes from a number of sources within the house. Water vapour is produced in relatively large quantities from normal day to day activities - a 5 person household generates about 10 kg of water into the air every day (before any heating) from:
- Breathing (asleep) 0.3 kg
- Breathing (awake) 0.85 kg
- Cooking 3 kg
- Personal washing 1.0 kg
- Washing and drying clothes 5.5 kg
- Heating - every carbon fuel produces some amount of water from combustion.
Condensation issues can often be effectively dealt with by the family. DIO/MHS have produced a very good fact sheet, Combating Condensation, which shows what you can do to reduce condensation and tackle mould in the home.
However, in cases where mould is caused by structural or ventilation issues (such as insufficient extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens), families should contact the MHS Customer Helpdesk as these causes will need to be dealt with by MHS.
Whatever the cause of the mould, the first time you notice it call the MHS Customer Helpdesk (0800 707 6000) and ask for someone to come and look at it. This is a new initiative from MHS where a Technical Officer (TO) will attend with a damp meter to assess whether the mould is caused by structural or general condensation issues. Following the assessment, there are three possible actions:
- The TO will confirm there are no structural issues causing the mould and provide some advice on different ways you could tackle the problem
- The TO may identify some aspects within the house that MHS can address that may help the situation, such as clearing or fitting trickle vents, clearing airbricks etc. The TO will also provide advice on how to prevent the mould from returning
- If the mould is believed to be caused by structural issues, the TO will request a further survey to produce a report detailing potential works and costs involved for DIO approval. In the meantime, the TO will provide advice on what you can do to alleviate the problem.
There is a lot that you can do as a family to reduce condensation and mould however, if you have an on-going situation with mould and you feel that it has not been addressed properly up until now (e.g. the area has been treated and painted over but it keeps coming back), please call the MHS Customer Helpdesk and ask for a TO visit to reassess the situation for you. You should also call the Helpdesk whenever you see the mould re-appearing so they can build up a record of the incidence of mould in your home. It would also really help MHS to know if this is a common problem on the street/estate as this could indicate a wider issue.
AFF would like to know the addresses of ALL SFA and SSFA which area affected by mould – please click on the link below to register your SFA/SSFA on our database.
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