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The cost of condensation: Why drying clothes inside isn't such a good idea

The cost of condensation: Why drying clothes inside isn't such a good idea

It’s still the time of year when many of us wake up to wet windows, as the cold outside air outside causes moisture inside to collect on windows and even walls.

At the same time more of us dry clothes inside, using radiators and clothes horses, which adds to the damp atmosphere.

But condensation can be more than unsightly and cause thousands of pounds in damage to your home.

A burgeoning problem

Modern fittings and energy-saving techniques could be exacerbating problems with condensation turning it from a minor inconvenience to a potentially major issue for homes and health, according to damp proofers Wise Property Care.

“Condensation is largely the result of improved standards of insulation, double glazing and draught proofing of properties that all give the benefit of better heat retention, but results in a lack of air ventilation, stale air and trapped moisture,” explains the company.

Fewer homes have large fires and fireplaces, which previously would suck away some of the moisture.

Okay, but how bad can it be?

If you’ve noticed black mould in areas that routinely become wet with condensation, then you’ve got a problem.

This mould is thought to be bad for health and potentially harmful to people with conditions such as asthma as it gives off tiny spores that float through the air.

And it’s also bad for your walls and the structure of your home. The mould is most likely to appear in corners of rooms, or near windows or even behind furniture.

It begins with the mould but can soon cause walls, plaster and fittings to rot. Wallpaper and paint can blister and peel off. It’s not long before there has been real damage done and redecorating is the only option.

How much will the damage cost to fix?

If it’s just a little bit of mould then you may be able to simply wipe it away, perhaps touching up the paint or sealant. However, if the plaster is damaged then you may need a professional to repair the ceiling or wall, which can cost around £120.

While you may be able to repaint and re-seal the affected areas yourself, if you do need a handyman or decorator to carry out the work it will easily cost more than £70 as few will book for less than half a day.

In extreme cases condensation can contribute to a dry rot problem, which can damage the structure of a home, and the bill for repair and proofing can run into thousands.

How to prevent problems with condensation forming

You must remove mould or it will spread. The first thing to do is clear away the mould using a special cleaning solution or use one part bleach to four parts water (this can strip colour so be careful).

Next, there are several steps you can take to reduce the water in the air of your home, and they may be enough to resolve the problem.

If your windows don't have trickle vents, consider getting them installed - they can make a big difference to the amount of moisture in your home. They can be ought online for as little as £5 and for those, who are DIY inclined you can install them yourself. Otherwise get a handyman out - the job should only take around 10 minutes per window.

Try to avoid putting towels or wet clothes and clothes onto radiators to dry as the moisture will simply reappear as condensation once it gets colder. But if this can't be avoided, look at investing in a dehumidfier - they can be picked up from about £50 - and pick one with a good energy efficiency rating so that you don't rack up expensive energy bills.

If you use a tumble dryer then make sure it is vented to the outside by putting the hose out of the window if it’s not self-condensing. You can buy hose kits at most DIY shops.

There are a few simple steps that you can take too. Aim to open windows after cooking and washing as this helps the steam condense outside. After a shower or after a meal, keep the kitchen and bathroom doors shut for at least 20 minutes to stop the moist air escaping – but the rest of the time leave the doors open to spread heat evenly throughout your house.

If you can, move furniture away from walls to help air circulate, and try to keep the property above 18°C, as colder temperatures encourage condensation. If you let it get cold enough to make the walls and windows wet, and you then crank up the temperature, you’re giving the mould the conditions it needs to thrive.

What if I’m a tenant?

If you’re a tenant then you may not be overly worried about any long-term damage caused to the property; after all, it’s not yours. But aside from questions over whether you have a duty to take better care of the property, you could also find yourself losing your deposit.

One letting agent we spoke to issues a leaflet to its tenants at this time of year, warning: “It is almost certainly not a defect with the property itself, but a result of the way you are using the property.

“Therefore, as it is your fault, you the tenants need to take immediate action to prevent further damage. Preventing the problem in the first place will be far cheaper for you than the cost of the subsequent repairs.”

However, tenancy legal advice websites all suggest that it can be a problem with how the property is ventilated, or could be caused by damp getting in via a damaged roof. If you’re confident that your use of the home is not to blame then consider contacting your local authority’s environmental housing officer.

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Have our say. Have you ever lived in a property with a severe mould problem? Do you have any tips for managing? Share your thoughts and experiences with other readers using the comments below.

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