With stories making the national news headlines of young children becoming ill and dying due to the effect of damp and mould in their homes, it is more important than ever for contractors maintaining social housing to assess and remedy the health risks of dampness in walls.
As the cost of living deepens and households are unable to heat their homes, more and more properties will develop damp as a result. Social housing providers are required by law to provide homes that are fit for purpose. Understanding the health risks of damp in walls and putting plans in place to eliminate those risks is a growing priority for those involved in property maintenance.
We all know that damp can be detrimental to your home’s structural integrity, but what are the effects of damp on health? There are multiple negative problems damp can cause to your health, including affecting those with asthma, allergies, respiratory problems, and causing infections. Additionally, damp can have a damaging effect on your overall immune system.
Some people are more susceptible to damp house health issues, including those with a weakened immune system, such as people undergoing chemotherapy. Additionally, people with respiratory problems such as asthma and allergies are also more sensitive to damp and mould. Furthermore, individuals with existing skin problems like eczema are also at risk of health complications when coming into contact with mould and damp. Finally, as we have seen in some of the recent devastating headlines, the elderly, children, and babies should stay away from mould and damp at all costs.
Understanding how dampness in walls can lead to health risks is important when prioritising essential maintenance works on social housing projects.
Mould produces irritants, allergens, and occasionally toxic substances; each of these can cause an allergic reaction when touched or inhaled. An allergic reaction will typically present itself in the form of a skin rash, red or watery eyes, a runny nose, and excessive sneezing. For those with asthma, mould can also evoke asthma attacks which is why asthmatic people are particularly vulnerable to its effects.
Damp and mould are caused by excess moisture, which can be a result of rain seeping in through damaged window frames or a faulty roof, rising damp in cellars, or leaking pipes. If your home is newly built, you may experience damp in the plaster, which may still be drying out. Additionally, excess moisture indoors is often caused by condensation from household activities such as cooking, laundry and showering.
If you locate damp or mould within a property, it’s highly important that you track down where the excess moisture is coming from, or the problem will worsen. Upon determining what the problem is, we would urge everyone to report the problem to their landlord and make necessary adjustments to minimise the moisture in the air.
Typically speaking, damp, and consequently mould, will be caused by excess condensation in the home. Mould appears as a cluster of small black dots on your walls where condensation has settled. For damp that is caused by condensation, you can prevent the issue from worsening by taking steps to reduce condensation in your home.
Firstly, you should aim to produce less moisture by avoiding the use of paraffin heaters, venting your tumble drier, drying your clothes outside, and putting lids on pots and pans when you cook. However, even with these measures in place, you will inevitably produce some moisture. Therefore, you should be sure to let moist air escape and allow fresh air into your home. This can be done through the proper use of extractor fans and the opening of your internal doors to ventilate the space. However, when bathing, cooking, or drying clothes, you should keep these doors shut and open the windows in the room instead. Additionally, you should make certain that there are gaps between your external facing, colder walls and furniture to allow breathing space.
Insulation is also a huge factor when it comes to damp-proofing, as warmer homes don’t tend to suffer from condensation. As well as insulation, you should draught-proof your external doors and windows using double glazing. You can also keep your space warm by putting the heating on regularly.
Once mould has taken hold, no amount of preventative measures is going to help. The mould problem will need to be tackled by a professional commercial damp treatment company such as Garratt’s.
As previously mentioned, condensation is not the sole cause of damp and mould. Penetrating damp and rising damp are also problems that can cool walls permitting mould growth. Penetrating damp is caused by water seeping into the property through defective brickwork, unsealed window frames, blocked guttering, and damaged roofs. Each of these can be easily remedied. Rising damp is a result of a non-existent or defective damp-proof course; this will have to be implemented or amended by our specialist team.
With the help of Garratt’s Damp, properties can undergo damp proofing treatment through our effective damp proofing systems. Our specialised team carries out property surveys to identify the cause of the issue and decide on the best course of remedial action. If you’re concerned about the presence of damp or mould in housing stock and its effect on the health of your residents, please contact us.