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Dealing with damp, condensation and mould – our commitment to you:
We're committed to providing safe and healthy living conditions for our tenants.
Damp, condensation, and mould can affect quality of life and could cause serious health problems- which is why it's important to know some of the common causes/signs of issues and how to resolve them.
There are many things you (as our tenant) and we (as your landlord) can do to tackle issues related to damp, condensation, and mould.
On this page, we'll talk you through:
- The actions we're taking, and the longer-term plans we have in place to address any issues you might raise with us.
- The common causes of damp, condensation, and mould.
- Things you can do at home to prevent damp, condensation, and mould.
- Things you can do at home to treat the effects of damp, condensation, and mould.
- The facts, myths, and other things you should know.
- The things we can do if you need our help dealing with damp, condensation, and mould.
You can also download our handy PDF leaflet on dealing with damp, condensation, by tapping below:
Jump to a section on this page:
A message from Noel Sharpe, our Group Chief Executive Officer:
"In the last year, we’ve received more reports of damp, condensation and mould than before.
"We believe this has been due to a combination of factors. These included delays in inspections and non-urgent repairs caused by the repairs backlog from the pandemic, higher fuel costs leading to underheated homes in some cases, and greater awareness of damp and mould health risks following the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who was found to have died from prolonged exposure to mould in his Rochdale home.
"We understand that living with damp, condensation and mould can be distressing and concerning.
"I want to reassure you that we’ve worked hard and made good progress in catching-up on our backlog of inspections and we’re making several organisational improvements, including forming a dedicated Damp and Mould Team.
"Other measures include a better system for classifying and managing damp-related repairs and additional support for our technical staff to be able to diagnose and remedy issues more quickly.
"Above all, we want you to feel listened to and that we’re taking your concerns around this issue seriously and will investigate quickly. We’re also looking at ways to help customers prevent some damp and mould issues occurring in the first place.
"We’re absolutely committed to ensuring that all our homes provide a safe, dry and warm place to live.
"If you’re experiencing any issues with damp, condensation or mould in your home, or have any concerns about how we’re dealing with these issues, please contact us straight away. We've included our contact details at the bottom of this page."
How we'll tackle damp and mould issues more quickly:
We’ve conducted two reviews to improve our response to damp, condensation and mould issues.
Our Tenant Scrutiny Group has looked at our customer experience and provided recommendations that we’ve put into our action plan.
We also responded to the Regulator of Social Housing’s letter to registered providers in November 2022 which asked us to give detailed information on the number of cases of damp and mould we have and how we intended to address them.
As a result of these reviews, we’re taking the following actions:
- Prioritising the removal of risk by cleaning mould on our first visit and gathering information for follow-up work to resolve underlying causes.
- Reshaping our Repairs Policy, allowing us to address urgent matters like damp and mould more quickly.
- Planning improvements in data and analysis and developing new key performance indicators.
- Completing a new Equality Impact Assessment to assess the needs of customers in specific circumstances and removing potential language barriers.
- Improving and increasing our communications with tenants to keep you better informed if you’re waiting for an inspection or repair.
- Providing additional training for our staff to ensure we deal with any damp, condensation and mould issues in the right way. This includes role specific technical training and all staff at least receiving general awareness training.
By giving our staff the knowledge to identify and treat issues and advise customers, we should be able to prevent minor issues becoming more significant and make positive interventions where issues haven’t been reported to us but require our attention. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work towards these improvements.
Intro: All homes are at risk of damp and mould...
All homes are at risk of damp and mould, especially during the winter months. Excessive moisture in around the home can cause these problems.
The sections below describe the different types of damp/condensation, what you can do to prevent it, and what we'll do if you need our help to deal with issues.
By understanding the different types of damp and their possible causes, you can work out what action to take:
Condensation (call us if it’s becoming a problem):
Most homes will be affected by condensation (water droplets) at some point. It’s caused by water vapour or moisture inside the home coming into contact with a colder surface, such as a window or a wall.
Cooking, bathing, washing up and drying clothes indoors all produce water vapour. In time, it can cause black mould to grow on affected areas such as wallpaper, paintwork or even plaster.
Condensation mainly occurs during the colder months. It’s usually found in the corners of rooms on north facing walls, on windows and in areas where there’s less air circulation such as behind wardrobes and beds.
Penetrating damp (call us if you spot it):
Penetrating damp only appears because of a problem outside the home, such as gaps in the pointing (the mortar that connects bricks), cracked rendering or missing roof tiles etc. These situations can cause water to get inside the home. Penetrating damp is more noticeable when it’s been raining and will usually appear as a ‘damp patch’ which feels damp or wet.
Water leaks (call us if you spot it):
Leaks from water and waste pipes, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, are relatively common. Leaks can affect both inside and outside walls as well as ceilings and floors.
The affected area looks and feels damp and remains damp whatever the weather conditions outside.
A quick examination of the water and waste pipes in the kitchen and bathroom, the seals around the bath, shower and sinks, plus external pipework such as guttering, will usually find the source of the problem.
Rising damp (call us if you spot it):
Rising damp is caused by water rising from the ground into the home. The water gets through or round a damp proof course (DPC), or passes through the brickwork if the property was built without a DPC.
A DPC is a layer of waterproof material put in the wall of a building just above the ground. It stops moisture rising through the walls.
Rising damp will only affect basements and ground floor rooms. It will normally rise no more than 24 inches above ground level and usually leaves a ‘tidemark’ of white building salts on the wall. If left untreated, it could cause plaster to crumble and wallpaper to lift in the affected area.
Remember: if you spot damp inside or outside your home, or you have a leak, please contact our repairs line straight away on 01204 328000.
Tap the tab below to learn why condensation and damp (as listed above) can cause black mould to grow.
In time, any areas affected by damp/condensation can attract black mould that grows on the surface.
Mould spores are invisible to the human eye and are always present in the atmosphere both inside and outside homes. They only become noticeable when they land on a damp surface (like those described in the tab above) upon which they can grow and then multiply.
This is why- in order to be able to deal with black mould growth- it's important to understand the causes of and ways to deal with dampness and condensation in your home.
Tap on the the tabs below (under 'Things you can do to prevent/treat issues') for a six-step plan for reducing condensation and preventing damp.
Intro: A six-step plan
A six-step plan for reducing condensation and preventing damp:
As mentioned in the tabs above, condensation can lead to damp and mould in the home but, thankfully, there are things we can do to prevent this happening.
Three factors which affect the amount of condensation in a home are:
- how much moisture or water vapour is produced,
- how much air circulation there is,
- and how warm the property is.
Here are six steps (followed by five things you should avoid) to reduce condensation and prevent damp in your home:
Moisture comes from a number of ordinary activities in the home, but you can reduce it by:
- Drying clothes outside or using a tumble drier. If you have to dry clothes indoors, try putting them on a clothes airer in the bathroom with the door closed and either switch on an extractor fan or open a window slightly.
- Considering using a dehumidifier (prices start from £10 upwards) to remove moisture in the air.
- Venting tumble driers to the outside (never into the home) or buy a condensing type (if you buy a condensing drier, please ensure it is used in a room size that meets the manufacturer's recommendations to avoid issues).
- Covering pans when cooking and trying not to keep re-boiling the kettle.
- Avoiding using paraffin or liquid petroleum (bottled) gas heaters. They produce large amounts of water vapor, are expensive to run, and usage of them is not permitted in our properties.
Wipe the windows and window sills of your home (kitchen roll works best) every morning to remove condensation.
This is especially important in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen - just opening the window isn’t enough.
You can ventilate (air) a room without causing it to become too cold by opening a window slightly or by using the trickle vent found on new UPVC windows. Some windows can be set in the open position while still being locked.
Opening windows allows moisture to escape and lets in dry air, which is also cheaper to heat.
To keep your home ventilated:
- Open a window when using the kitchen or bathroom, and close the doors to prevent moisture spreading to other parts of the home.
- Open the bedroom window for up to an hour after you get up, and throw back the duvet to air the bed.
- During daylight hours, open curtains and blinds.
- Clear window sills of any clutter that could restrict opening the windows.
- Leave space between the back of furniture and cold walls.
- Ventilate cupboards and wardrobes, and avoid overfilling them as this stops air from circulating.
By opening your windows, you might worry that you’re losing heat. But what you’re actually doing is letting warm moisture-laden air escape and allowing cool, dry air into your home. Dry cool air is actually cheaper to heat than warm, moist air.
In cold weather, the best way to keep rooms warm and avoid condensation is to keep low background heat on all day rather than having short burst of high heat. Use the heating controls on your radiators as well as the thermostat and timer to control your heating and manage costs.
For a healthy home, it’s important to strike the right balance between keeping it warm while being ventilated.
If you could use some help to make sure heating your home remains as affordable/efficient as possible, consider getting in touch with our Home Energy Advisor, Tom Kirby.
Visit: www.boltonathome.org.uk/energy-advice for Tom's contact details or to see our other recommendations for saving money/energy at home.
All our properties have loft insulation and most will have had cavity wall insulation.
You can reduce draughts in your home by closing your curtains at night, keeping doors closed inside your home, and using draught excluders at the bottom of external (e.g. front/back) doors to cover any gaps.
Please bear in mind that using draught excluders on internal doors could hinder ventilation, so you should only use them on internal doors if you feel they're absolutely necessary.
Black mould can grow on walls, ceilings, furnishings and even on clothes and toys. By dealing with the causes of condensation (using the steps listed above), you’ll greatly reduce the chances of having black mould in your home.
However, if you spot mould growing on a surface, it’s important to take early action as it can spread quickly. When mould covers a small area, it’s generally easy to remove it yourself. You can use various household products, or a combination of them, like:
- White vinegar: Pour the vinegar into a dry spray bottle and spray a good amount on the area of mould. Allow it to sit for one hour. Use a dry, absorbent cloth to soak up the moisture by dabbing or pressing against the cleaned areas. You can spray the areas mould is most likely to grow with white vinegar once or twice a week.
- Tea tree oil: Add one teaspoon of tea tree oil and two cups of water to a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the affected area and use a clean cloth to wipe the mould away. Leaving the tea tree oil on the surface will kill the mould and help prevent it from returning.
- Other options: To clean mould that covers a small area, you could also consider using a household detergent or mould remover made for this purpose. Always read product guidance before use, follow all safety instructions given, and test suitability for the surface first to check it won’t cause damage.
Remember, dealing with condensation and preventing mould in your home can be an easy process. But if you’re worried about a more serious problem, please get in touch with us by calling our repairs line on 01204 328000.
DMC page: five things you should avoid
Five things you should avoid when it comes to dealing with condensation, damp, and mould:
- Don’t ignore issues with damp, condensation or mould, as they could cause health problems and damage your home.
- Don’t just paint over areas affected by mould, as this won’t solve the problem and could make it worse.
- Don’t use chlorine bleach to clean areas affected by mould, as this is unlikely to remove the root cause of the problem and could be dangerous to your health.
- Don’t use humidifiers as a fix for damp, condensation or mould, as they can make issues worse.
- Don’t block any vents or air vents in your home, as this will reduce ventilation and air quality.
Intro: Ten myths and misunderstandings
Myths and common misunderstandings related to condensation, damp, and mould:
It's important to be able to separate the facts from common myths/misunderstandings when it comes to condensation, damp, and mould.
Tap the tabs below to read the truths behind ten of the most common myths/misunderstandings:
Poor ventilation can contribute to damp but it’s not necessarily the only cause. Damp can also be caused by other factors such as leaks from pipes, roofing or walls, or rising damp due to ground moisture, or lack of proper insulation.
The underlying cause needs to be identified and addressed for a permanent solution.
Damp and condensation can affect any home, regardless of age or condition. Reasons can include poor ventilation, water leaks, lack of insulation, ground moisture and weather conditions.
New, energy-efficient homes can also experience damp and condensation due to the increased airtightness of the building, which can trap moisture inside.
Although these areas are particularly susceptible to damp and condensation due to high humidity levels, these issues can occur in other rooms such as bedrooms and living rooms. And mould can grow anywhere there is moisture and organic matter.
Good ventilation is essential to prevent and reduce condensation, as it helps to remove excess moisture from the air. Opening windows, extractor fans and vents can all help to lower the level of condensation.
Condensation could lead to more serious issues such as mould growth, health problems and structural damage if not managed properly.
Condensation can occur at any time of the year. Winter is often a time when condensation becomes more noticeable due to the cold weather and the increased use of heating systems.
Mould can grow in areas that aren’t visibly damp, such as behind wallpaper or in wall cavities. It’s important to look for hidden signs of mould, such as musty smells, to identify and address the issue.
This isn’t effective in removing mould and could make the problem worse by spreading spores of mould. When mould covers a small area, it’s generally easy to remove it by using a suitable household product that can treat the area such as white vinegar, tea tree oil, or a household detergent or mould remover made for this purpose.
Please phone us on 01204 328000 if you find it difficult to treat or if you have any concerns.
Damp and mould can cause health problems, such as respiratory issues and allergies and infections. They can also lead to structural damage and cause an unpleasant smell.
If you spot mould growing on a surface, it’s important to take early action as it can spread quickly.
If you need help cleaning mould, or if it’s spreading, please phone us on 01204 328000 and we’ll arrange an inspection and clean the area.
While black mould can be harmful, any type of mould growth in the home could cause health problems and should be removed as moulds produce allergens, irritants and toxic substances.
Here's how to contact us:
If you're concerned about issues related to condensation, damp, and/or mould, it's best to call us on 01204 328000. For other ways to contact us, please tap here.
Here's what we'll do:
You’ll speak to a member of our Contact Centre Team who’ll ask you some questions about the issues you’re experiencing in your home.
These questions will allow us to start assessing the issues straight away and identify the most appropriate next steps to take in your situation.
As part of this, we’ll ask if you’ve any individual circumstances or needs that we should be aware of and for details about the location(s) and extent of the issues in your home.
We’ll listen to your concerns and our Technical Team will review your report and we (or a contractor working on our behalf) will contact you to arrange any or all the following:
- a mould clean treatment
- a remedial repair
- a damp inspection
We'll then arrange any additional work required to resolve the issue.
Our response timescales for mould reports are:
- Immediate risk to health: response within 7 days to clean the mould and remove hazards.
- Potential risk to health: response within 21 days to clean the mould and remove any hazards.
Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you think you could use our help.