I woke up this morning, opened my curtains and pulled up the roller blind to be greeted with a small amount of condensation on the inside of my double glazed windows. I looked outside and could see the weather was cold but the sun was shining. I realised we are at the time of year when as a letting agent in Chelmsford our phones often ring from tenants complaining about this and the appearance of black mould around their windows. Yet it is a very easy problem to solve. I simply opened the window a small amount, allowed the room to ventilate for a while before closing the window again. If I had been leaving the house straight away I might have considered leaving the window on the ventilation lock to allow the room to ventilate whilst I was out but still leaving the house secure. In many cases the build-up of black mould in rented property is as a result of poor ventilation and lack of adequate heating. Now I know some properties have structural problems which cause this and the tenant cannot be blamed for this. In these cases, the landlord must take action to work on the underlying issue. However, in our experience the vast majority of cases we see in the quality rental property we manage is down to the tenant’s lack of knowledge surrounding condensation, damp and mould and therefore not adequately ventilating the property or heating it sufficiently.
People often do not realise that simple things such as breathing, drying clothes indoors, boiling the kettle, cooking with lids off pans all contribute to the amount of moisture being put into the air in your home. Did you know that one person asleep for a night adds half a pint of water to the air and at twice that rate when active during the day? To give you an idea of how much moisture you could be adding to the air in your home here are some examples:
- 2 People at home for 16 hours = 3 pints
- A bath or shower = 2 pints
- Drying clothes indoors = 9 pints
- Cooking and use of a kettle = 6 pints
- Washing dishes = 2 pints
So you can see it is very easy to fill your home with moist air which then causes condensation and if not addressed can then lead to damp and mould. That is why we make a 12 page information document about controlling condensation available to our tenants to help them control this. Here’s some of our top tips for controlling condensation in the home:
- Hang washing outside if at all possible. If not, then hang in the bathroom with the door closed and the window slightly open for ventilation or the extractor fan turned on. Don’t put it on a radiator or in front of a radiant heater.
- If using a tumble dryer make sure it is vented to the outside or a new condensing type.
- Always cook with pan lids on and turn the heat down once the water has boiled. Only use the minimum amount of water when cooking vegetables.
- When filling your bath run the cold water first and then add the hot. It will reduce the steam by 90% which leads to condensation.
- Try to avoid the use of Gas heaters. They produce a lot of moisture compared to other types of heating such as electric of central heating.
- Help to reduce condensation that has built up overnight by cross ventilating. Opening to the first notch a small window downstairs and a small one upstairs (they should be on opposite sides of the house or diagonally opposite if living in a flat). At the same time open the interior room doors to allow drier air to circulate through your home. This should be carried out for about 30 minutes each day.
- Ventilate your kitchen when cooking, washing up or washing by hand. A window slightly open is as good as one open. If you have one use your cooker extractor hood or extractor fan.
- Keep kitchen and bathroom doors closed to stop moisture escaping into the rest of the house.
- Ventilate your kitchen and bathroom for 20 minutes after use by opening a small top window. Use an extractor fan if you have one.
- Ventilate your bedroom overnight by leaving a window slightly open or use a trickle vent if fitted. (But remember security)
- Leave a small gap between furniture and walls to allow air to circulate around them and consider drilling ventilation holes in the false backs of wardrobes and chests of drawers to ventilate your clothing.
- Warm air holds more moisture than cooler air which is more likely to deposit droplets of condensation around your home. Air is like a sponge; the warmer it is, the more moisture it will hold. Heating one room to a high level and leaving other rooms cold makes condensation worse in the unheated rooms. That means that it is better to have a medium to low level of heat throughout the property. Keeping the heating on low all day in colder weather will help to control condensation. But obviously keep a check on your meters to see how much it is costing you.
So in summary we recommend regular and adequate ventilation, adequate heating and putting some thought into reducing the level of moisture you are putting into the air in your home. If you are in any doubt, then seek the advice of a specialist. We are not a specialist damp company but as letting agents in Chelmsford we do have many years’ experience in letting and managing property in Chelmsford and across the whole of Essex so please contact us if you would like any practical advice.