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Stopping Condensation And Mould In The Home

Condensation and mould on a window, with plants on the sill to help reduce and it and better air quality.

07 December 2021

As winter bites, so does condensation and mould in the home, with homeowners and tenants noticing water on their walls and windows during colder months. However, recent data has revealed that some are more likely to experience the issue than others.

By analysing recent GOV.UK data, we’ve taken a look at those most likely to live with condensation and mould in the home. We’ve also provided some of our best tips on preventing and reducing the spread of the issue in the home.

Contents

Who experiences condensation and mould in the home most?

Latest figures, from the GOV UK English Housing Survey [1], estimate that 1.9% of homes in England suffer from condensation and mould, this equates to 449,578 of the homes in England having problems with mould and condensation – something that is exacerbated in the winter months.

Of this figure, nearly a third (32%) are in London and the South East alone; where 142,310 homes in the capital and the surrounding areas are reported to have issues with mould and condensation.

Private renters in England are four times (412%) more likely to live in homes with condensation

Nationally, our analysis found that private renters (4.1%) in England are four times (412%) more likely to live in homes with condensation and mould issues than homeowners (0.8%). Data also revealed that private renters are 28% more likely to experience issues than those in social housing (3.2%) – both local authority and housing association.

Within cities, 4.6% of homes have issues with mould and condensation, in comparison, just 1.5% of suburban homes have the same issues. This indicates that those living in cities are more than twice (206%) as likely to live with mould and condensation than those living in suburban settings.

One reason for this difference could be the different types of homes (and ownership) between cities and the suburbs. Flats – often found in cities – are 87% more likely to have problems with condensation and mould than houses, with 3% of flats suffering from moisture issues in comparison to just 1.6% of houses.

Increased frequency of mould and condensation in relation to demographics

Government data also revealed that people’s backgrounds and circumstances increase the chances of living with condensation and mould problems.

Data showed that lone parents (3.4%) are 73% more likely to live with condensation than the national average (1.9%). Data also revealed that those living in multi-person households (3.1%) – such as shared houses – have a 63% higher rate of mould and condensation issues.

Those in poverty are 112% more likely to live in a home with condensation and mould issues, with 3.6% of homes occupied by people living below the poverty threshold having issues, compared to just 1.6% of those above the poverty line.

The GOV UK data analysed also revealed that Black (4.4%) and Asian (4.4%) households are 159% more likely to live with condensation issues than White households (1.7%).


How to stop condensation and mould in the home this winter

In light of our analysis and to help, we’ve shared some of our top tips this winter on how to prevent and slow down condensation and mould problems this winter. From ventilation to heating and cleaning to plants, these tips added together can keep your home warm and dry.

That being said, it is important to remember condensation is a byproduct of human activity. Washing, cooking, and even breathing can contribute to condensation, meaning many of these tips are continuous activities rather than one-offs.

Wipe down windows (and sills) in the morning

In the morning, wipe down your windows to remove any condensation on the glass or frames. Use kitchen towel, squeegees, or a cloth to displace water and prevent it from building up and developing into mould.

If mould has developed, use cloths dipped in soapy water to remove it, followed by a dry cloth to remove any residuals. If using a cloth, remember to throw it away after coming into contact with mould spores to prevent spreading them elsewhere.

Shut kitchen doors and use pan lids when cooking

Warm, moist air from the kitchen is one of the leading causes of condensation and mould in the home. Two simple ways to stop it spreading are: Closing kitchen doors when cooking and using lids on pans.

Lids help to trap and reduce moisture getting into the air while shutting the door stops the spread to other rooms. In addition, opening a kitchen window or using an extractor fan helps to ventilate the room and help the warm air escape, rather than building up in one room.

Open bathroom windows or use an extractor fan

Like cooking, bathing is one of the biggest contributors and causes of condensation and mould in the home. Steam from a shower or a bath can build up creating black mould hot spots, with a lack of ventilation seeing the hot air escape elsewhere in the home or clinging to bathroom walls and ceilings.

To prevent this, open a bathroom window or use an extractor fan to help ventilate and draw out steamy air, remembering to shut the door to prevent air from escaping and reaching “cold” walls

In homes where bathrooms are located in the centre or have little airflow from a window available, it’s advisable to install a reliable and quality extractor fan, with a correctly installed outflow pipe, to draw warm air from the room and prevent it condensing on the ceiling and walls.

Open windows to let air flow and moisture escape

General human activity (such as breathing) releases water vapour into the air. This means even if you ventilate the bathroom and kitchen condensation can still build up. This is why opening your window(s) for 15 minutes each morning can help prevent issues.

Opening your windows helps to allow air to flow through the home, displacing and helping to dry moisture that might have built up overnight to escape. A top tip is to open your windows at the same time as you wipe them down in the morning.

Keep heating at a consistent temperature

Keeping your home consistently warm reduces the opportunity for water vapour to condense on ‘cold’ surfaces. By keeping your home at a steady temperature, by installing and maintaining a central heating system, you increase the ambient temperature of your surfaces, limiting humid air from condensing on walls and windows.

In light of recent fuel price increases, we suggest setting your heating to come on regularly through the day, at intervals when you’re most likely to be home; such as in the mornings and in the evenings.

Insulate your home to keep warmth in for longer

To keep your home and walls warmer for longer, ensure you have adequate insulation installed. Insulation helps prevent the cold from seeping into your walls but also helps retain the heat; keeping your home warmer for longer and reducing your heating usage.

The primary insulation types are cavity, solid and/or external wall insulation; houses built between 1920 and 2000 are likely to have cavity spaces, while newer and older homes will use external or internal insulation. Loft insulation is another way to prevent warmth from escaping from the home and helping to reduce your energy consumption and risk of condensation and mould growth.

Replace and upgrade old doors and windows

Draughty, often older, doors and windows can allow warm air to seep out and the cold to get in, increasing “cold spots” and the need to use your heating to prevent condensation from forming.

To help reduce these spots, it’s advisable to replace and repair/maintain doors and windows to prevent such issues. However, replacing and even maintaining old doors and windows can set you back thousands of pounds. A cheaper alternative is using insulation tape on sills and edges to fill gaps and retain heat in the home for longer.

A similar way to help at night is to close blinds and curtains, to help keep in heat and prevent warmer air from reaching colder windows at night. However, be sure to open windows and wipe them down the next morning to get rid of any moisture that had built up.

Invest in a dehumidifier (or similar alternatives)

Dehumidifiers help to reduce the moisture in the air, while also helping to add warmth to the area at the same time. For some, these are necessary when living in exposed areas and buildings or when experiencing highly humid weather.

For many, dehumidifiers are also perfect when their homes might have poor ventilation – such as few windows or little opening space – and where security and access to and an open window are of issue. 

It’s worth noting full dehumidifiers can be expensive. However, products such as reusable silica bags and other desiccant silica moisture catchers can be a more inexpensive alternative to help with problem areas of the home. 

Avoid hanging wet washing inside

Drying recently washed clothes inside – especially in unventilated rooms – is often a key contributor to condensation and mould growth in the home. As the clothes dry the moisture dissipates and, if the home isn’t warm enough or there isn’t enough ventilation, it settles on cold walls and windows, leading to condensation build up and eventually mould.

To prevent this, if you have access, try to dry clothes outdoors as much as possible. Or, if you do not have access to an outdoor area, tumble dryers/dryers are an easy solution but can come at an added cost through energy usage.

If you do not have a dryer or access to an outdoor space and must dry clothes inside, ensure they are placed in a well-ventilated area, with plenty of airflow to help moisture escape; ideally with a dehumidifier or moisture catchers nearby.

Check for leaks and blocked pipes

It’s important to check for leaks and blocked pipes any time of the year but in winter the lingering humidity makes leaks and blocked pipes even more important to find and rectify as soon as possible.

Over the winter keep an eye out for leaks and drops in pressure, to ensure internal piping is okay. While outside, check that your gutters and downspouts are clear and not leaking or overflowing – snow, ice, and leaves can leave outdoor pipes blocked and cause them to overflow.

Invest in humidity-lowering plants

While some plants – such as Bamboo palm – can make humidity in the home greater, others have the opposite effect and can help to reduce moisture in the air. If you’re looking for plant-based dehumidifiers, it’s worth investing in Peace Lilies, Spider plants, Orchids, and Cacti; all of which can somewhat aid in pulling moisture from the air and help to improve air quality in the home.

If you do own a number of plants, it’s worth keeping an eye on watering patterns and levels, and only watering sparingly during colder winter months, to help reduce the moisture in the home.

Leave a gap between furniture and walls

To help create and allow for airflow it’s important to leave gaps between your furniture and walls, especially those that are exposed to the outside. This helps to allow air to circulate around the home and avoids areas where moisture could get trapped or be allowed to build up.

You don’t need to leave a large gap but enough that you can see behind, and enough for air to pass through easily. It’s advisable to do this year-round but during winter months cold walls and a lack of airflow can allow moisture to condense on the walls behind furniture and turn into black mould, potentially ruining your furniture as well as your walls.

Methodology

Figures quoted were sourced from the latest GOV UK “English Housing Survey data on dwelling condition and safety” last updated July 2021. Data was retrieved and analysed from the publicly available datasets in the report. 

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