Demystifying damp, mould and condensation

The weather is turning more and more autumnal by the day, and as winter approaches, and temperatures lower, the threat of condensation within your property increases greatly. Condensation is often a big problem for properties as it can lead to wider issues such as damp and mould.

A major bone of contention for many landlords is understanding whether condensation is a result of issues with the property in question such as poor ventilation, lack of damp proofing, caused by the tenant or a combination of both.

Despite many articles I’ve seen written on the subject, it’s not generally very well understood.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding around it, and even some so called “experts” get it wrong.

– Tom Entwistle, founder and editor of LandlordZone

Tom Entwistle, founder and editor of LandlordZone, has years of experience dealing with condensation and damp problems throughout residential and commercial properties and shares his tips for dealing with this troublesome issue.

Firstly, Tom notes that it is important to distinguish between condensation, damp and mould. Although often very similar in appearance, it is important to identify them correctly in order to save time, money and effort.

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What is condensation?

Condensation is the result of warm moist air reaching a cold surface. This can be anything from steam caused by cooking, bathing, washing or drying (often when clothes are left to dry in an unventilated room). You may be able to see it on surfaces such as windows, which often collect water droplets, however condensation is not always visible for example when it collects on wall paper, plastered walls, clothes or carpets. In this instance the main tell tail sign is a musty smell and in some cases the emergence of mould.

There are two main causes of condensation within a property, most commonly when the room temperature is too cold or there is the production of too much steam or moisture rich air that has not been adequately ventilated.

Often this is something that tenants can treat themselves by ensuring that any moisture in the air can escape. This can be achieved through turning on extractor fans when cooking and using the bathroom, shutting doors to prevent condensation spreading throughout the house, keeping the property heated to an adequate temperature and opening windows (when possible).

The longer condensation is left to sit on surfaces the more potentially damaging this can be to the property. This is because any residing moisture may be absorbed further into walls, wood and plaster leading to mould development. This can be significantly damaging to the health of your tenants and the property.


The difference between condensation and damp

Dampness, says Tom, is most definitely different and invariably results from building defects. This is something that tenants have little to no control over, despite best efforts to adequately heat and ventilate the property.

As a result, this is predominately a landlord issue but can also be easily addressed. The main causes can be anything from a leaky roof, defective guttering or rising damp.

Mold in the corner of the plastic windows