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Dealing with Damp and Mould in Your Home

Damp and mould are pervasive problems in many homes, particularly in the UK, where the combination of old, draughty housing stock and often unpredictable weather creates ideal conditions for these issues to thrive.

While these problems are common, they are far from benign. In fact, they can pose significant health hazards and impact the overall well-being of residents. This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on what damp and mould are, their causes, the health risks associated with them, and what you can do if you encounter these issues in your home.

Understanding Damp and Mould

Damp and mould are the result of a buildup of moisture within a property. They can occur for various reasons, some of which are related to how people live in their homes, while others are due to structural faults in the property. Condensation is one common cause, where moisture settles on surfaces due to steam or humidity. This can happen, for example, if you take a hot shower and don't ventilate the bathroom adequately. Poor insulation, inadequate ventilation, and improper heating can exacerbate the problem. Additionally, penetrating damp occurs when water leaks through walls or roofs, while rising damp means that parts of the building absorb moisture.

The Health Impacts

Damp and mould aren't just aesthetic issues; they can have serious health consequences. Exposure to these conditions can lead to respiratory problems, infections, allergies, and asthma. Vulnerable groups, such as babies, children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions, are particularly at risk. Inhaling mould spores can trigger symptoms like coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and watery eyes. Therefore, addressing damp and mould is not only about maintaining your property but also safeguarding your health.

Awaab's Law and Legal Rights

The tragic death of Awaab Ishak, a toddler who died due to the effects of mould in his Rochdale home, brought the issue of damp and mould into the spotlight. His family had complained to their landlord multiple times, highlighting the need for action. In response, the government adopted Awaab's Law as part of the Social Housing Regulation Bill, compelling social housing landlords to investigate and address damp and mould issues within specified timeframes. This change emphasises the responsibility of landlords to provide homes that are "fit for human habitation" and safe for residents. Private renters also have legal rights, and landlords are obligated to address these issues promptly.

How to Get Rid of Damp and Mould

If you discover damp and mould in your home, it's essential to address the problem promptly to prevent it from worsening. For tenants, reporting the issue to landlords or property managers is the first step. Additionally, contacting the local authority's environmental health department for a housing assessment can be beneficial. If the mould is limited in scope and hasn't caused respiratory problems, you may be able to address it yourself. However, for larger or more persistent issues, it's advisable to seek the assistance of mould removal specialists.

Preventing Damp and Mould

Preventing damp and mould is often more straightforward and cost-effective than dealing with the problem once it has taken hold. Effective prevention strategies include improving ventilation by opening windows and using extractor fans, avoiding drying clothes indoors, and keeping rooms adequately heated. Regular maintenance and addressing any structural issues, such as leaks, faulty gutters, or poor insulation, are also essential in preventing these problems from arising in the first place.

Damp and mould are pervasive issues in many homes, with potentially severe health consequences. However, with the right knowledge and actions, you can protect your home and your health. Recognising the causes, understanding your legal rights, and implementing prevention and remediation strategies are crucial steps in ensuring that your living space remains safe, healthy, and comfortable. By taking action and advocating for necessary changes, you can contribute to addressing the widespread issue of damp and mould in domestic dwellings.


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Steve Muscroft - Senior Product Developer 

Steve Muscroft is a Senior Product Developer in the Engineering and Green sector of the NOCN Group. Steve has a wealth of industry experience from working in the building maintenance, engineering and the green sector, and has also worked in education development for most of his career. He is responsible for developing a number of qualifications, standards, assessments and support material.