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Damp Proofing Question
Mould on clothes/textiles and furniture, and muggy air in ground floor flat?
I'm currently rented a 2 bedroom ground floor flat with a friend. We have had a damp problem apparent since, probably, as soon as we moved in in June (during a heatwave as well). The air in the flat was constantly 'muggy' and felt damp, and within a couple of weeks we noticed mould on our living room rug, on clothing and shoes in our bedrooms and other items feeling damp to touch. We were of course opening our windows for 4-5 hours a day, especially as it was so hot anyway, but this didn't seem to make a difference - and despite our landlord telling us to ventilate more, leaving the windows open constantly is also a safety concern as we are on the ground floor and live right in the centre of town.
Our extractor fan stopped working in our bathroom and our landlord took over a month to respond to our requests for a repair, which means the steam from the bathroom was not helping our damp/mould problem during this time.
After emailing over a collection of photos of our mouldy belongings our landlord eventually sent someone to assess the damp in our property, who then said we should move items of furniture away from walls and purchase wardrobes instead of clothes rails as our clothing is "holding moisture" - which doesn't seem valid as even items in chest of drawers and cupboards are now becoming covered in mould. They also told us that "even breathing adds to the moisture in the air" which seemed like a ridiculous statement to make.
My theory is that the building has an inherent damp problem. Our energy certificate is an E and states "very poor" for ventilation and insulation. Our flat has a garden area directly outside which looks like it has not been properly looked after for years and we get almost no sunlight because of the tall trees and shrubs right outside our windows. The outside of the building looks green and mossy on the lower part of the outside wall which I also understand is a sign of penetrating damp.
Now September, the problem is still continuing - just the other day I took my camera out of a drawer and the fabric case was covered in mould. Slight spotted mould is appearing on areas of the wall and random parts of furniture too.
This is becoming stressful, exhausting and very difficult to live with, constantly worrying what belongings will be mouldy next and living with this generally "damp feeling" in the flat is making me not even want to come home from work.
I would really appreciate any help or advice anyone can give me! I don't know a lot about these issues, but have dealt with mouldy student housing for several years but this is the worst I've lived with! We pay a LOT in rent for this flat and the problems seem to be being ignored or made out to be our fault. Does it sound like there is a penetrating damp issue? Is it the landlord's responsibility to have this surveyed, listen to our concerns and do something about it? Is there anything we can do to help this?
Hi yes the age old problem of mould and damp, i have seen countless examples over the years. The common issues are old buildings and lack of insulation, poor ventilation, poor heating, cooking, drying clothes on radiators the list can go on.
The problem is that there is a possibility that the building has alwas suffered from the issue and has been covered up and not being delt with in the past, any property that is damp with always have a high humidity factor. ventilation can alliviate this to a degree but also can be counter productive too.
First of all we have to look at what the possible cause could be, the first thing i would say is have a look at the exterior of the property, lok for tell tell signs of water ingress for example a leaking gutter of downpipe this would leave a white mark on the wall or even moss/alge, look at the pointing between the bricks is water getting into the brick work, also look at the damp proof course and drains is there any sign that the water is ingressing at the foot of the building.
a few tips to help minimise the issues you have would be to ventilate (but only on the warmest part of the day, ventilating this time of year with high humidity will compromise the heat you are trying to maintain within the building structure because heat & ventilation prevents condensation as i always say but there is a balance.
Also when cooking keep the kitchen door shut and try not to let steam migrate around the property, dont dry clothes on radiators use a clothes horse or similar. When using a shower open the window and let the steam subside after bathing.
this last one is really important wipe down any wet surfaces as soon a water appears as if left unattended this will turn to mould, Mould is a spore where you see it is not really when it started. Mould spores travel in the atmosphere and with settle in any cool damp spot like the corner of rooms, window cills and frames.
The important thing is to manage the problem until the issue is located. Using Bicarb of soda in a warm water solution is a cheap effective way of cleaning mould away but until the problem is located you will always have an issue.
Its such a indepth subject and i could go on about it for hours, however i hope some of this is some help. good luck
Answered 24th Sep 2018
For a short-term solution, you could look at getting a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the environment. Long term, there must be something cause the excess moisture in the air etc, so that cause would need to be remedied therefore fixing the symptoms. I hope you get this sorted soon, If you are having trouble with the landlord, I would just consider moving.
Answered 29th Sep 2018