Boiler specialist shares ‘crucial’ methods to prevent damp in homes

How to deal with damp in your home

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Often caused by failing to keep up with house maintenance, damp can prove a real headache. Clothes and furniture can be damaged and it can also trigger health problems like asthma. That’s why, if you do see signs of damp, it’s best to get to the bottom of the problem as soon as possible. Mark Ronald, Lead Engineer at Hometree, the boiler and home cover provider warns homeowners that poor ventilation inside the home can cause condensation, one of the most common kinds of damp. He has shared how homeowners can prevent certain types of damp around the home using their central heating.

He said: “Many people may think that the solution to damp is cranking up the central heating to dry it out. However, it isn’t as simple as that. Central heating won’t prevent damp by itself, but can help with certain types of damp.

“The main type of damp that central heating helps combat is condensation, often found in rooms that don’t get used as much as others. Another common form of damp is found behind furniture, where air circulation is poor. 

“Normally condensation happens when moist air becomes trapped in your house, then hits a colder surface, like your wall, for example. The moisture can soak into the wall and cause mould to form. 

“Some signs to look for include water tide marks on the windows and walls, which will stream, causing deterioration of decoration, discolouring of window frames and eventually – growth of black mould. All of these are a result of poor ventilation and air circulation.”

Mark explained that one of the “most common areas” you can experience condensation is in the bathroom. When running a hot bath or shower, condensation is caused by hot water, and whilst extraction techniques (like extractor fans) can help to some extent, they don’t always fully eliminate condensation.

He advised: “It is important to keep the bathroom door shut so that the moisture doesn’t escape into other areas of your home. 

“If it’s not too cold, you should also open a window. This allows the humid air to be released to outside and will stop the collection of condensation vapour on the cold windows and walls.” 

Here are Mark’s top three ways households can prevent certain types of damp using central heating:

1. Heat every room

To keep the damp at bay during the colder months, try to keep your home at a steady warm temperature. 

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Damp happens when warm air hits cold walls, so by keeping your house warm the surfaces don’t get cold enough to create condensation. 

The boiler specialist said: “Heating every room can help you decrease build-up of damp. If one room is cold and the other warm, it will lead to cold spots. 

“These rooms are more vulnerable to condensation and damp, therefore, try to heat every room as often as you can.”

2. Keep rooms ventilated 

Ventilating your home can be as easy as opening a window for at least 15 minutes each morning. If you have windows that can be locked in a slightly open position, all the better.

Mark warned: “Having your central heating on throughout the winter can cause condensation if ventilation is poor. Whilst most people tend to close their windows when the heating is on, this isn’t always ideal. A free flow of air is crucial.

“Despite wanting to heat a room, it’s important to let any moist air out to help create good airflow. Therefore, try to open windows periodically- ideally for around ten to fifteen minutes- to let cool air in and moist air out.”

For those wanting to know how to stop condensation on walls and ceilings in a particular room, consider fitting air bricks. These are bricks with lots of tiny holes in them and can be added to exterior walls, allowing air to pass under a suspended timber floor. 

Traditionally made from clay, they are now more commonly made of plastic. Plastic bricks allow for better airflow and are less easily broken. Long term, they will prevent damp and moisture from damaging the floorboards.

3. Change heating temperature gradually 

According to the expert, if the heating is turned up really high and then turned off suddenly, moist air is more likely to build up.

He advised: “As dramatic temperature changes can make condensation worse, try adjusting the temperatures of your heating gradually – a couple of degrees every half an hour.” 

Mark warned households that while preventing damp can increase energy bills, it is much more cost-effective than dealing with the damaging issues damp can cause.

He said: “Energy bills are always one of a homeowner’s biggest outgoings during the winter months, and whilst the above advice can contribute to higher energy usage, causing damage to your home with damp will cost you a lot more in the long run.”

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