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Advice For Damp Homes
Is your home damp?
A damp house can encourage mould growth and mites which can increase the risk of illness. Here are some tips to identify the causes and what to do.
Damp caused by water penetrating from outside has a couple of tell tale signs. Firstly water penetrating through brickwork will extract the salts and leave a white deposit called efflorescence. Secondly a leak will leave a tide mark. As the problem gets worse further ring marks will appear. It is a good idea to mark the outer ring and monitor to see how it progresses. Often it takes several attempts to solve a leak as water can travel in unusual routes.
If either of these signs are apparent check for obvious causes such as a leaking or blocked gutter/downpipe, objects stacked against the external wall bridging the damp proof course, leaking pipes, dripping overflows, damage to roof or missing tiles. If fixed quickly there will be less damage to the fabric of the building. For more serious problems or no obvious signs get an expert in. If you suspect the damp proof course is damaged or there is not one advice from a damp-proofing specialist will be required.
A common cause of damp is condensation. Condensation occurs when moisture in the air hits a cold surface and condenses. This is why it is more a problem in cold weather. Signs of condensation are mould growth in the corners of a room, around windows, behind wardrobes/cupboards, above cookers and baths and sometimes on north facing walls.
It is essential to treat any mould existing first. Wash off mould with a fungicidal wash following the manufacturers instructions. Bleach can also be used but may damage surfaces and care is required not to get it on the skin. Do not brush or vacuum up mildew as is will disturb the spores. Always dry clean clothes and shampoo carpets.
Redecorate surfaces with a quality fungicidal paint to help reduce mould reoccurring.
The only way to reduce condensation is to follow three simple steps.
1. Reduce moisture produced.
There are very simple ways to reduce moisture in the home by simply changing our lifestyle. These tips will make a big difference to the moisture produced in the home.
Vent tumble dryers (unless self condensing)
Dry washing outside. If this is not possible hang washing up in the bathroom and leave a window open
Try not to use portable gas heaters as they add more moisture in the air
Cover saucepans when cooking.
Do not leave a kettle to continuously boil.
If a home is warmer it reduces the likeliness of condensation. Insulation and draughtproofing is the most effective way of helping to keep your home warm and save money on our heating bills. Home improvements such as secondary or double glazing will reduce heat loss but you must ensure that windows are fitted with trickle vents. Cavity wall and loft insulation are also very effective. Check with you local council to se if any grants are available, pensioners and low income families usually receive substantial grants. There are companies that will carry out works on a grant scheme. In very cold weather low background heating on all day will help keep the fabric of the building warm and reduce moisture condensing on cold spots. Here are some essential tips of what not to do:
Do not draughtproof the kitchen or bathroom
Do not completely block up chimneys (always fit an air brick or grill)
Do not block up ventilators
Do not cover eaves ventilators when laying loft insulation
Do no forget to draughtproof the loft hatch
It is possible to ventilate your home without making it draughty. Here are a few tips:
If windows have trickle vents do use them. If your windows dont look into the cost of fitting them.
Leave a gap between the back of furniture and an external wall. Where possible position furniture on internal walls.
Open kitchen and bathroom windows and close the door when in use. If you have an extractor fan please use them they are very cheap to run. If you don not have an extractor fan in these rooms consider fitting them.
When in a room open a small window.
If the condensation is worse in the loft or ceiling below check the eaves ventilators are not blocked. If none are fitted consider fitting some. Some eaves ventilation systems are hard to spot so close inspection is required. Always check what material a soffit is made from before purchasing a ventilator as some soffits in older houses are made from asbestos.
If you approach reducing condensation from the three simple steps you should find a dramatic difference. If no improvements are made seek professional advice.
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