Apart from rising damp or leaks that may be new, the condition of houses and their thermal performance has not fundamentally changed, which means that new issues are most likely to be around moisture and temperature.

Moisture can get into your home in several ways:

  • Rain can get in through leaking roofs, blocked or damaged guttering, leaky walls and poorly fitting doors and windows.
  • Leaks from plumbing faults, failed appliances and poorly sealed baths and showers can quickly build up, often where you can't see them.
  • Ground water can rise up through the walls and floor if the damp proof course isn't working properly.
  • People add moisture to the air all the time just by breathing, as well as from cooking, drying clothes, and from our pets and house plants.
  • Moisture in the air turns in to water as it cools, and where that point is depends on the thermal efficiency of the house, the temperature outside, and the heating inside.

A build-up of moisture in the home can cause a range of problems and can potentially damage the fabric of the building if allowed to continue. And if mould starts to grow, this can affect the health of the occupants.

If you have rainwater getting in, or any internal leaks or signs of rising damp, then it's important to get the problem sorted out quickly. Please contact the Property Team, who will arrange to come and investigate.

Moisture in the air can cause problems too if it leads to too much condensation.

Managing condensation in the home

Moisture in the air will form condensation (droplets of liquid water) when it comes into contact with a cold surface such as a window. We all get condensation on our windows from time to time, but this isn't necessarily a problem if it clears up quickly.

Problems begin if the water builds up to the point where it starts to cause damage. And if it's building up somewhere other than on the window, you may not notice until the wallpaper starts to peel, or black mould starts to grow. This is most likely to happen in places that are colder than the rest of the house, such as exposed corners or where there is a gap in the insulation, and where the air can't circulate freely, such as behind furniture.

If you do have mould growing, it's good to clean it off straight away to minimise any health risk, but you also need to fix the underlying damp problem to stop it coming back. If you don't have any leaks or rising damp issues, then the problem is almost certainly condensation.

There are several things you can do to help avoid problems in the future:

  • Reduce the amount of moisture produced in the first place by keeping lids on pans when cooking, drying clothes outside when possible, and if you use a tumble dryer, making sure it's vented to the outside.
  • Ventilate so the moist air leaves the house - always use the extractor fan when you're cooking, showering or bathing, leave any window vents open, and don't block off any other vents.
  • Make sure air can circulate by leaving gaps between furniture and the wall.
  • Try to avoid cold spots - if there's a gap between your wall insulation and your loft insulation, for example, try to get this fixed as it will attract condensation and possibly mould. The Property Team can assess this.
  • Consider adding more ventilation — this could be a new external vent in a problem corner, a new extractor fan, or even a whole house ventilation system if you need it. Please consult the Property Team.

Whilst generally speaking we are happy for you to take simple steps to reduce draughts (e.g. letter box flaps and draught excluders), please don't fit any new draught-proofing in a room that already has a condensation problem. If you have wider concerns about insulation or other aspects of thermal efficiency, please speak to the Property Team.

We are very aware that the mix of moisture and heat is particularly challenging in the winter. Hopefully this helps to explain what lies behind a problem that seems prevalent at present, and offers some advice on how to deal with it.

Do get in touch with the Property Team if you feel that you have specific concerns and we will try to help.