Maintenance Top tips

Dealing with damp

Condensation is the most common cause of damp and mould related problems. There are various way, however that this can be prevented.

What is condensation and mould?
Condensation is when hot air from taking a shower or steam from cooking comes into contact with a cooler surface such as a window or wall and causes tiny water droplets to appear. If these surfaces are left wet, the water droplets can soak into the wallpaper or paintwork and cause mould to grow. When the mould grows it’s unsightly and appears on surfaces as a cloud of little black dots.
The mould causes the "musty" odour frequently associated with a damp house. Having mould in a household is a health hazard as it can lead to respiratory infections, allergies
and asthma.

What can I do in my home to reduce any condensation and mould?
Simple things make a huge difference when it comes to the prevention of damp and mould. See Below.

Ventilate well
When using the bathroom or when cooking in the kitchen, ensure windows are open and turn on the extractor fan if there is one present within the household. Doing this will keep air circulating and remove the hot moisture that has been generated. When using a room leave windows slightly open to prevent humidity from build up. If the option isn’t available to open any windows, wipe off any water that has collected on window surfaces with a cloth or tissue to keep the area dry. Check air vents installed in the house aren’t blocked by any furniture or any other items as this could restrict air circulation. Avoid overfilling cupboards. If air is unable to circulate mould may start to grow.

Make less moisture
If there is less moisture/humidity in the home then less condensation will occur. When cooking, cover pans and pots to limit the amount of steam escaping into the air and do not leave kettles boiling. Dry wet laundry outdoors if possible rather than inside. If unable to dry clothes outdoors then dry them in the bathroom, close the door and keep the extractor fan on or a window slightly open. Keep heating on a low background temperature setting at approximately 18-21°C in cold weather rather than short bursts of hot heat. This means there is less chance of moisture being able to find any cold surfaces where it can condense and form damp and mould.

What if I already have mould?
If a property has mould it's important to find the cause and to get rid of it as quickly as possible as it can be harmful to health. If a small area is starting to form mould, remove the small build up by using a mould-removing wash. These are available to buy cheaply in supermarkets and DIY stores. For larger build-up of damp and mould on walls it is important to report this problem to the housing association as soon as possible so that contractors can be called in to resolve the issue quickly. This might save further damage to property and prevent any mould related illnesses from occurring.

Boiler efficiency

Heating a home can be expensive but there are lots of ways to help keep costs low. 60% of household energy bills each year are spent on heating, having an efficient boiler can make a lot of difference in terms of saving energy costs.

Tips on making boiler use more efficient:
  • Set the times so that the boiler is on when its going to be used and off when not in use, for instance turning it on before getting up in the morning for work and back off again before leaving the house, this way no energy is wasted by having it on when no one is present in the property.
  • Setting the boiler timer to come on half an hour before getting up and switch off about 20 minutes before leaving the house is the most efficient use of energy.
  • Turn down thermostat. On average people that turn down their thermostats by 1°C save approximately £90 a year on heating.
  • The recommended healthy room temperature for a living room is 21°C and 18°C for the rest of the house. Turn the central heating down by 1°C, leave it for a day and see if it makes a difference. Turn it down by 1°C the next day, keep doing this until its been adjusted to the most comfortable temperature setting.
  • Boilers for properties managed by Arawak Walton are regularly checked to make sure they are working as they should be. If there are any problems or the boiler at a property needs updating the repairs team book that property in so contractors can come and complete the necessary work.

What if I notice a problem with my boiler?
It is important to report the problem as soon as possible so that any repair work is carried out promptly.

A few simple boiler checks to conduct before contacting the housing association which may help solve the problem:
  • Is the boiler gas or electric?
  • Check if there are any supply problems in
    local area?
  • If a payment plan has been agreed, check if there is enough credit on your card
  • Is the thermostat in the correct place?
  • Are the radiators valves open properly?
  • Are there any noises coming from the boiler?
  • Is there a pressure reading on the boiler?
    If so, what does it say?

Frost and freezing

During winter, the cold weather can not only affect health but also the property. When water freezes there is a chance it can freeze pipes too. Frozen pipes can cause major problems as they can burst and potentially cause flooding within the house. Pipes are most likely to freeze in unheated rooms, outhouses and attics, as well as pipes hidden at the back of cupboards so it’s crucial to ensure that all pipes are well insulated in these areas in particular.

What can I do to reduce frost?
Run taps frequently to get water flowing. Moving water is less likely to freeze. Use the Central Heating when possible. Leave room doors open to allow warm air to circulate around the property.

In the incidence of a frozen pipe, what should tenants do?
Turn off the water supply by the main stop tap, this is usually under the kitchen sink or where the service pipe enters the property. Switch off the central heating. Protect everything around the pipe such as any domestic appliances. Apply warmth with a hair dryer and turn water back on to test flow.

Protecting your home
Severe water leaks and fires can cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage to a property and ruin personal belongings. It’s vital to have home contents insurance in case of an emergency that way any damage incurred to personal items is covered.