Damp can cause mould on walls and furniture, and make wooden window frames rot.
Some damp is caused by condensation. There’s always some moisture in the air, even if you can’t see it. If the air gets colder, it can’t hold all the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. You notice it when you see your breath on a cold day, or when the mirror mists over when you have a bath.
Condensation is mostly a problem in cold weather – whether it’s raining or dry. It appears on cold surfaces and in places where there is little air movement – in corners, on or near windows, in or behind wardrobes and cupboards.
Condensation isn’t the only cause of damp. It can also come from:
- Leaking pipes, waste and overflows – see how to prevent burst and leaks in cold weather.
- Rain penetrating gaps in the brickwork, roof, window frames, and around doors.
- Rising damp due to a faulty damp proof course.
Meanwhile if your home is damp for any of these reasons it may take weeks of heating and ventilation to dry out. You also need to tackle the cause of the problem to stop it coming back and damaging your home even more. You can report the problem online.
There is no point removing mould if you haven’t removed the cause. So stop condensation first.
To remove mould:
- Wipe down walls and window frames with a fungicidal wash – make sure it carries a Health and Safety Executive approval number. Follow the instructions carefully.
- Dry-clean mildewed clothes and shampoo carpets.
- After treatment, redecorate using a good quality fungicidal paint. Don’t paint over with ordinary paints or wall papers.
When pipes leak
Place a dish or bowl underneath the leak. Pull back any carpets and lay down newspapers or towels to absorb any dampness.
When pipes burst
Turn off the water at the main stop tap, and switch off any water heaters. Open all taps to drain water from the system.
Can it be isolated?
Some items of equipment may have their own isolation valve (either a gate valve, or service valve). If not, you may be able to isolate the fault by just turning off a gate valve on a pipe coming out of the cold water tank. This will leave you with some services, even though it may be cold water at the kitchen tap. You could then temporarily flush toilets using a bucket of cold water.
If electrical fittings get wet, do not touch and turn off the electricity at the meter.
When ceilings bulge
To prevent the ceiling falling down, place a bucket under the bulge and pierce a small hole to let the water through.
When pipes freeze
Turn off the water at the main stop tap and open the cold taps. It is best to leave the pipes frozen, but you may try to thaw the pipe using hot water bottles or a hairdryer. Take great care and do not use a blow lamp. Take care to thaw from one end of the frozen section and not from the middle. Conserve hot water until the pipes are thawed.
Know where your main stop tap is and check that it turns easily and is able to shut off the water supply. It is usually where the water pipe enters the house or near the kitchen sink. Get to know where the gas valves for the hot and cold water tanks are. If you go away for a few days in winter, lower the setting on your central heating room thermostat but leave the heating on.
Follow these tips to cut condensation and drive out damp and mould.
Produce less moisture
Some ordinary daily activities produce a lot of moisture very quickly. So:
- Cover pans and don’t leave kettles boiling.
- Do not use paraffin or portable bottle gas heaters – you would be breaking your tenancy agreement if you used things like this.
- Dry washing outdoors. If it’s raining, put it in a room with a fan on, like the bathroom or kitchen, and close the door.
- If you have a tumble dryer put the outlet pipe through an outside wall using a fixed dryer vent kit, not out of a window
Ventilate to remove moisture
You can ventilate your home without making draughts. So:
- Keep a small window ajar, or open a window-ventilator if you have one, when someone is in the room.
- In the morning open a window at the front of the property and one at the back to create a draught and remove the moisture built up during the night and from washing/showering in the morning.
- Close kitchen and bathroom doors when the rooms are in use, even if you have an extractor fan, to stop moisture reaching other rooms.
- Don’t put too many things in wardrobes and cupboards – it stops the air circulating.
- If you replace your windows, make sure they have ventilators – you need our permission to put in new windows.
- Don’t block ventilators or chimneys.
Insulate, draught proof and heat your home
Keep your home warm, and help cut fuel bills. When the whole home is warmer, condensation is less likely. So:
- Insulate your loft – but don’t block the openings or under the eaves.
- In cold weather, keep the heating on low all day – even when there’s no one at home.
- Draught-proof windows and doors – but get rid of mould and condensation first. Don’t draught-proof bathrooms, kitchens or rooms with a cooker or gas fire.
Hot tips for cold snaps
Winter weather can burst your pipes and ruin your home. Follow these hot tips to keep the warmth in and the plumber out!
Prevention is better than cure
Find your stopcock – the tap that turns off the main water supply. Find it now rather than look for it when there’s water pouring everywhere! It’s probably in the kitchen near the sink.
Get to know your heating controls. Central heating thermostats and time switches are complicated. Get advice from a heating engineer or energy advisor. Contact Manchester City Council’s energy experts for more information.
When you’re at home
If you have central heating use the thermostat to keep the temperature comfortable. During the day a good setting is between 18°C and 22°C. If it’s freezing outside set the heating to stay on continuously, but turn the thermostat lower for the night. Remember, the higher the thermostat the more fuel you use.
When you’re away
If you’ve got central heating and you’re away in cold weather, leave the heating on continuously with the thermostat right down to 6°C. This will stop your pipes freezing, but it won’t cost much. If you haven’t got central heating turn the water off at the stopcock and drain off all the cold water. Then turn off the immersion heater. If you have a solid fuel boiler, let the fire die out. Then drain off all the hot water.
If you are experiencing frozen pipes, please follow the tips below to assist in getting the water supply back to your home.
If your have no water, firstly check whether neighbours are similarly affected. If they also have no water, contact United Utilities on 0845 746 2200. If they have water but you don’t, your pipes are probably frozen, so:
- Locate your main stop tap (usually under the sink or closest to where water supply enters your property).
- Check your stop tap to see if it’s working. If it is, turn it off to minimise problems when your pipes thaw. If there’s a stopcock on the system side of the header tank, turn this off to stop water leaving the tank.
If you are confident in DIY, please follow the next steps to thaw your pipes:
- Before you start to thaw the system, do what you can to protect or remove anything which might be damaged by the thawing water running from a potential burst.
- Check all visible pipes for damage or evidence of freezing.
- Turn the COLD taps nearest to the frozen part of the pipe on, so water can escape when pipes are thawed – but don’t turn HOT taps on until the central heating or immersion heater is switched off.
- Apply a hot water bottle to affected pipes or use a hairdryer in short bursts but take care, the pipe may burst as it thaws and spray water. NEVER use a naked flame. Do not use a blow lamp or heat gun. Keep heat away from water meters.
- Once pipes are thawed, allow water to flow until normal flow is restored – then insulate pipes.
- Turn off your tap and insulate your pipe work to prevent further freezing or provide additional heating in the affected area.
- If necessary get some water from your neighbour.
If none of the above has helped please call Wythenshawe Community Housing Group on 0300 111 0000 or 0800 633 5500.