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Mould and Condensation Control in Winter

By Liam O'Boyle

The worst enemies of a house and its occupants are mould and condensation, especially in the cold winter months. According to HRV, 46% of Kiwi homes are condensation prone.

Condensation and mould can not only weaken and damage a house’s structure and aesthetics, health problems can arise such as asthma, coughs and respiratory problems.

Christchurch may be even more at risk – liquefied silt sitting under homes and buildings for the last two years can cause added damage and health concerns.

What causes mould and condensation?

As the temperature drops outside, we try to make our inside environment as warm as possible, but without proper ventilation, the warm, damp environment created is perfect for condensation to appear and mould to grow.

Steam from the kitchen and bathroom is the greatest culprit, but warm air from heaters and even the people breathing inside can create condensation.

Warm air carries more water vapour, and when this air comes into contact with windows or glass surfaces, walls and mirrors, beads of moisture form. This excessive moisture drips down onto window frames and into cracks, walls and floorboards, and it is here that mould starts to grow.

Floors, walls, window sills and ceiling spaces can rot and mould and fungi can form on curtains, exterior walls, in corners and behind closets and cupboards.

Other causes of dampness and moisture can be leaking pipes, overflowing gutters/cracked downpipes, roof leaks and eroded or damaged outside walls.

Preventing and removing mould and condensation

The best way to remove a lot of moist air is to ventilate your house by installing a ventilation system, opening windows or hiring/buying a dehumidifier. It’s important to have your house insulated as well to prevent heat from leaving the home.

You can reduce condensation by:

  • Pulling furniture away from walls
  • Opening windows when cooking, or use an extractor fan
  • The same goes for showering or bathing – use an extractor fan or open windows afterwards
  • Keeping lids on pots/pans when cooking
  • Wiping down surfaces regularly if they are affected by condensation

Mould can be removed by washing it with disinfectant or fungicidal wash. Diluted bleach can also be used (one part bleach to three parts water). Wear gloves when cleaning and use a cloth to wipe away the mould, making sure these are rinsed regularly to avoid further contamination. Wash gloves and cloth with hot water afterwards.

If you have liquefied silt under your home, it is important to hire a professional company to remove it. A spokesman for Trans Pacific Industrial Solutions said they’ve removed silt from underneath over 100 Christchurch homes and that a 100-square-meter home can easily have 100 tonnes of silt underneath it.

Taking these precautions in your home or property before the cold really sets in could save a raft of structural and health problems for your family or tenants, and save money in the long run. Take action today to ensure a warm, dry, healthy home environment.

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