The Blind Men And The Elephant

The Blind Men And The Elephant.

We’ve all heard the story of the Blind Men And The Elephant. There are many variations, but the gist is that there are several blind men (sometimes sighted men in the dark), who are asked to describe what it is they are touching, even though they can only feel one part.

blindmenandelephant

One man feels the leg, and says they are touching a pillar. One man feels the tail, and insists they are touching a rope. The man touching the trunk tells of a tree branch, while the guy feeling an ear describes a hand fan. The final man is determined that they are holding a solid pipe, with his hand on the tusk.

A king explains to them they are all correct- they are only telling it differently because of their different view points.

This Story Is Relevant To Everyone, But Particularly To Those Of Us Involved In Rental Property.

When we look at a problem with one of our properties, its important to take the whole view. Its all to easy to only look at the surface, and decide that what you see is the issue.

A good example might be when assessing a damp issue in your property. You can look at the wall, and see that it s damp. You might even test with a moisture meter. Yes, its damp. But where is all that moisture coming from?

 Penetrating damp above a damp course

In the above photo of a wall in a Tyneside Flat, you can clearly see a wet band across the middle of the wall. It would be very easy to jump to the conclusion that this is rising damp, especially as there doesn’t seem to be any blackspot mould present.(rising damp brings salts with it which normally prohibits mould growth). Just looking from this angle, you would feel this part of the Elephant, and conclude it’s the wall.

Looking further into the issue shows that it’s dry underneath, and is actually where the damp course has been done, and rendered, before replastering.  ( I know this because my contractors did the work)

Checking outside this ground floor flat showed that the rainwater down pipe was in poor condition, and water had seeped through the solid masonry wall, but couldn’t penetrate the render course applied.

Taking a wider view shows the full problem.

Solution: new down pipe- not hundreds of pounds on a damp course.

Tenants

This is also a good story to remember when dealing with tenant issues. We need to remember that their viewpoint of any issue isn’t necessarily the same as ours- and not necessarily wrong either. Seeing things through the eyes of all people involved in any situation can help you to see a fuller picture, and might just help with finding a better solution.

 

Essential Property Winter Checks- Infographic

“A Stitch, In Time, Saves Nine”

Now that Winter is definitely here, its time to carry out those tasks around your properties you’ve been putting off cos you’re too busy!

Spending an hour checking these following issues, and maybe a little money, can prevent some of the issues I report on regularly, and avoid costly emergency repairs.

Essential Property Winter checks info graphic
Essential Property winter Checks

Planned Maintainance All Year Long!

Its not only winter time where its important to repair small issues early. Minor repairs now can save thousands in escalating costs.

Part of this is getting an accurate regular report on the condition of your rental properties. This is one reason I use a good letting agent, who carry out quarterly inspections of my portfolio, and inform me of any damage or disrepair.

Hope you like the Infographic-  Sharing Is caring!

What On Earth Is A Tyneside Flat?

What On Earth Is A Tyneside Flat?

Every region has its peculiar types of residential housing from times gone by. Areas of Scotland have ‘four in a block’ flats, Leeds and Yorkshire have their ‘back to back’ terraced houses.

The North East have Tyneside Flats. These mainly single storey flats occupy a two storey row of terraces, with their own front and rear doors. Many of the upper flats have dormer windows built in, and can be maisonettes with several bedrooms.  Built mainly between 1860’s and 1914, they are now generally the domain of Landlords and first time buyers.

Tyneside Flats In Gateshead
Tyneside Flats In Gateshead

Layout

The two Tyneside Flats are easily identifiable from their side to side front doors. They are often referred to as a ‘pair of flats’.

Tyneside Flats pair front doors
Side By Side Front Doors Of A Pair Of Tyneside Flats

Ground floor Tyneside Flats tend to have two bedrooms , while upper flats have three, due to the extra space from the staircase position. They have kitchens and bathrooms to the rear of the properties, usually an extension built in the 1970s or 80s. They have a yard to the rear, which is sometimes shared with the other flat in the pair.

Tyneside flats do not have a service agreement or any form of charge for communal maintenance- they don’t have any communal space (except for an occasional shared yard). The leases tend to be owned by the opposite flat, with clauses regarding the shared responsibilities ( e.g. rainwater goods).

Structure.

Tyneside flats are built with solid brick or stone walls, with no cavity. This has made insulation to anywhere near modern standards very difficult. The rest of the construction methods can vary dramatically from area to area, or according to the time they were built. Some internal walls are stud with Lath and Plaster finish, some are infilled with brick and plaster.  Some still have single skinned sculleries to the rear, and a netty (toilet) in the rear yard.

Tyneside Flat Insulated
Thinly Externally Insulated And Rendered Tyneside Flats On Rayleigh Grove, Gateshead

The design varied over the years, often getting larger, and incorporating front gardens, and bay windows. Many of the ornate plaster mouldings survive, such as below, a Tyneside Flat on Westbourne Avenue, Gateshead we renovated in 2012.

 

Tyneside Flats with Bay Windows
Tyneside Flats With Bay Windows
Ornate plaster ceiling Tyneside Flat
Ornate Plaster Mouldings In A Tyneside Flat

Rising damp is an issue in these properties due to the age of the buildings. The Avenues in Bensham, Gateshead, are particularly bad in places due to the gradient of the ground they were built on, with living spaces often being partially below ground.

The main bulk of my teams renovation work for rental properties are on Tyneside Flats. The renovations tend to be fairly straightforward, cost effective, and create a rental property with a great return on investment.

Refurbishment Of A Tyneside Flat

Refurbishment Of A Tyneside Flat.

Tyneside Flats In Gateshead
Tyneside Flats In Gateshead

The vast majority of refurbishments I complete are Tyneside Flats, for the rental market. These types of properties are widespread across tyneside, and although are seemingly very similar, the construction methods can vary dramatically from town to town and over different time periods.

What On Earth Is A Tyneside Flat?

Most were built between the 1860s and 1914, and are of mainly solid masonry construction, with an occasional single skinned scullery to the rear ( mostly replaced with bathroom and kitchen extensions.)

Here is an example of one ground floor two bed Tyneside Flat my team renovated recently.

Tyneside Flat Refurbishment In Gateshead

This property had been tenanted for a few decades, with very little maintenance or refurbishment. The flat required a full rewire, replumb ( there was no boiler, just a gas water heater), windows, doors… everything really!

I think the kitchen was a 60’s original!

Refurbishment tyneside flat kitchen
Kitchen
Refurbishment tyneside flat lounge gas fire
Lounge Gas Fire

As you can see there was extensive rising damp to the rear of the property, and throughout.

The only option was to gut the place! Start by stripping back the wallpaper…

refurbishment tyneside flat wallpaper strip
Stripping Back The Wallpaper
Removing Stud Wall Infil Bricks
Removing Stud Wall Infil Bricks

The internal walls were constructed of thin timber studs, infilled with bricks on their side. This was used as a base to plaster over instead of timber laths. This gives a more solid feel, but once the cement bond of the brick is broken, the plaster continues to crack.

The weight of this wall on the floor had caused it to bow over the last 100 plus years, so we removed them, straightened the floor and rebuilt new stud work with plasterboard.

Get Rid Of The Damp

The damp plaster was removed to an appropriate height, removing salts and contaminants, and a new damp proof course was injected (Dryzone), the walls were tanked with a cementitious slurry, then rendered. External walls were rendered and plastered using bonding plasters,  and the internal walls were ‘dot and dabbed’ with plaster board. (dabbing plasterboard to external walls, particularly cavity free ones such as these, causes cold spots in the finished wall where condensation forms- you’ll see wet spots all over the wall.)

Clearing The Chimney Breast
Clearing The Chimney Breast

The chimney breasts were also cleared of debris which had built up, and would have bridged the new damp course. This is often the cause of damp around a chimney breast, and is a relatively easy fix.

Bathroom With Damp Plaster Removed
Bathroom With Damp Plaster Removed

Put It Back Together

After rewiring the full property was skimmed, with new joinery, kitchen, bathroom, windows:

Tyneside Flat Refurbishment Bathroom
New Bathroom
Refurbishment Tyneside Flat Kitchen
New Kitchen- Same Angle As Earlier Photo

The property was put on the market in the run up to Christmas, which is a notoriously slow time, but let fairly quickly with an incentive to the tenant. An electric fire suite was hung on the chimney breast to create a focal point. this is the same chimney breast which was being cleared before.

Lounge- Chimney Breast
Lounge- Chimney Breast
The Finished Flat
The Finished Flat

If you’ve seen my previous posts, you’ll notice that the materials used are similar. They’re not similar, they’re the same! One of the ways I have of keeping refurb and future maintenance costs down is by using the same kitchens, worktops, bathroom suites, tiles, paint and floor coverings in each property. This allows me to use up every last bit, reducing wastage.

The main advantage to this system is knowledge. If a tenant reports a broken tap, or kitchen door, I know straight away exactly what that item is, without having to visit the property. This saves me time and money. Repainting a wall is simple, an the paint will match the rest of the room (though you should never just paint a patch on a wall!)

There are times where this isn’t feasible- such as a different specification for a different market such as a conversion I recently finished, or when the kitchen supplier suddenly cancel a range of cabinets!

Renovating Tyneside Flats has been bread and butter stuff for my team for years, but each one seems to have a surprise in store!

 

7 Ways To NOT Get Your Bond Back

7 Guaranteed Ways To Lose Your Bond/            Security Deposit.

Tenants- want to know how to guarantee you won’t get your bond or security deposit back? Of course you do. Read on….

1. Make sure you don’t clean anything.

Despite the fact that your property was spotless when you signed the tenancy agreement, make sure you leave greasy kitchens alone, don’t vacuum, and leave all the skirtings dusty. Leaving a big poo splurge down the toilet is a must.

2. Leave Carpets Heavily Stained.
Bond Security deposit loss
This Carpet Used To Be Mid Cream

Never taking your shoes off in the house, allowing pets to use carpets as toilets, and doing a motorbike oil change in the lounge are all excellent ways of destroying a carpet. No, it won’t just clean.Top Tip: Cigarette burns and iron marks guarantee the carpets will be thrown out!

3. Leave Loads Of Rubbish
Loadsa Rubbish
Loadsa Rubbish

Making sure that the (greasy) kitchen cabinets are full of out of date food, the bins are full, and the sink is blocked with god knows what will all help towards your goal of losing your deposit. Please leave food in the discarded fridge freezer and turn it off- the smell is super. Top Tip: electrical items and mattresses cost extra to get rid of!

4. Break Things.

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When you’re removing your crappy furniture, ensuring you smash all the walls and put holes in the doors is a great time saving way to increase the refurbishment cost. All to come out of your bond too!

5. Break Things On Purpose.

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Why not smash that fire place, or rip the lights out of the ceiling? Take the laminate flooring with you. Cut car mats out of the bedroom carpet. Fake a break in to justify why your friends have pulled the kitchen out. Smash a window or two. Snapping gas pipes is an excellent way of costing your landlord extra money, while creating an exciting explosive atmosphere.

6. Repaint Patches On The Walls

Why not try just painting patches on the walls to cover where your kids have scribbled, or you’ve left dirty handprints? Make sure you just get the cheapest paint there is, which is close to the original colour- after all, magnolia is magnolia, right?

7. Assume Your Deposit /Bond Is The Last Months Rent.

Just don’t pay your last months rent- then the damages are free!

After your check out, and you’ve been given the estimate, make sure you kick off, claiming it was all ‘fair wear and tear’, and threaten to complain to every man and his dog.

The costs for a contractor to clean up your mess will always be a higher than doing it yourself.

Why should you have to pay your bit for the damage you’ve caused? After all, your landlord is rolling in it.

How To Refurb Your Rental To A Specific Market

How To Create A Seven Bedroom Flat!

Three Of My Staff On A Good Day
Three Of My Staff On A Good Day

Refurbishing a property to rent out isn’t always just a matter of ‘build it and they will come’. Due diligence and good research, along with local knowledge, can all help you make the best of a location.

This can be as simple as choosing an appropriate kitchen style, whether or not to allow pets, or add parking, or a million other little things. The difference in taste between a young couple, single parent, or ‘downsizing’ older couple can be vast.

Recently I went a stage further:

Ive just finished the conversion of two flats into one. I can hear cries of crazy fool, but there is method in my madness.

Firstly, the pair of flats had been badly converted from a maisonette. They had a shared entrance, which was pokey. There was always a problem with the flat roof over the first floor kitchen, as this was the rear access for the upper flat.

The main problem was revenue. The first floor flat achieved a low rent for the area, and the back end, with its shared brick and concrete staircase, was dark and smelly.

The top floor flat was almost impossible to rent, and the void periods were vast. We eventually gave up trying to rent it.

Eureka!

Gateshead is home to a very large community of orthodox Jews, and has many yeshivas and collels ( schools and learning centres) which attract students from all over the world. The majority of the community live around the Coatsworth Road area, with the Synagogue very close by. There is an area of fairly recently built housing across the road, which is principally Jewish inhabited.

Turn It Into One Flat!

Kitchen Showing Two Sinks
Kitchen Showing Two Sinks

Jewish families tend to be large, and as such they require larger housing, so I decided to convert the split maisonette back into one seven bedroom property. I researched the idea first, speaking to the agent, and asked an existing Jewish tenant their opinion.

The first obvious thing was for a Kosher kitchen design. Due to their dietary requirements, its extremely important for Jewish people to keep meat and dairy separate. Providing two separate sinks in the kitchen, along with two sets of drawers, and mirrored cabinets allows them to keep their utensils and cookery equipment completely separate. I also allowed space for an extra large fridge freezer, or two separate appliances to allow for larger families.

It was also noted that previous Jewish tenants in another property have requested lino in the lounge instead of carpet. The families tend to live at a large table surrounded by chairs, and spend their time reading and learning as a group. No TV’s in this flat! I decided to run vinyl plank flooring throughout the first floor communal areas. This is bonded to the sub floor and is much harder wearing, looks nicer, and ‘planks’ can be replaced if damaged. The bedrooms are carpeted.

The Old Entrance To The Upper Flat
The Old Entrance To The Upper Flat

7 Bedrooms!

I added an additional toilet and basin on the top floor. I would’ve liked an additional shower, but this wasn’t possible with the layout.

The last thing to note is the request for additional storage. All tenants require storage, but this is vital for Jewish families. As well as having two sets of kitchen and dining equipment, they also have a third set reserved for Passover. Add this to larger than average families, and its easy to see how important storage can be! Storage is built in to the lounge, theres decent loft access, and theres even additional space in the upper w/c!

What If Im Wrong?

What if no one wants to rent a seven bedroom flat? I like to build contingency into my work if at all possible. If I ever need to convert this back into two flats, all the services are still there, and can be separated easily. This would obviously require that the separated flats meet the new requirements for building control, but this can be done quickly. I don’t think that would ever need to happen though- we would be back to a situation of having a small flat which wouldn’t rent, while having to pay council tax on it forever!

Rent!

Now the project is finished, the projected rent has been set around the £700 pcm mark. This is more than twice what the building was producing before conversion. There have been viewings booked and carried out within a day of going on the market. Thats a good sign, particularly at a time of year where rentals historically slow down.

I anticipate this property to be free of the void periods which had plagued it, and the problems associated with a poor job the first time around.

Edit: this flat let within 24 hours, to the first viewer!

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Procrastination Is The Art Of Keeping Up With Yesterday.

Procrastination Is The Art Of Keeping Up With Yesterday.

There often comes a time on a refurbishment job where you feel like you’ve run out of steam. Particularly if money is tight, or you’re trying to do most things on your own.

Ive been in exactly that situation this week, with a current refurbishment job of my own which has dragged on for  ages, due in part to cash flow issues. ( the cash was supposed to flow from a remortgage with Japanese Knotweed). Read all about it.

This is a project I’ve had to fit in around my work and further learning commitments.

Instead of cracking on through last week to prep ahead of plasterers I’ve booked to start tomorrow, I’ve sat on my arse playing with Henry the Beagle, and faffed about on Twitter (@refurb4rental).

Oops

Tonight I’ve worked harder and faster than I have ever before to try and catch up. I would’ve liked to have added a ‘How To’ about how to fix plasterboard, patch in plasterwork, use PVA to ensure a good bond, all that good stuff. However, I’ve been so busy actually doing it, in the dark with one site light, that I’ve been unable.

The wife is away screaming around Leeds in her ambulance, so I really couldn’t leave The Hound any longer.

So I still haven’t finished.

So guess where ill be at 6 in the morning. Mint.

Whats The Lesson

The lesson to be learned is this- plan out your time, and stick to the plan. Thats it. I knew last week what I needed to achieve by this week in order to push the job on. It wasn’t playing tug of war with a rubber frisbee.

Dont leave everything until last minute, or take in more than you can achieve, especially if you’re fairly new to the building game.

Also, Twitter isn’t a substitute for actual work!

Will Japanese Knotweed Eat My House?

Japanese Knotweed- Mortgage Killer!

Japanese Knotweed Infestation

I was recently refused a remortgage on a rental property of mine due to the presence of Japanese Knotweed in the garden, spreading onto my land from railway lines at the rear. This is what I discovered in the panic stricken weekend which followed:

A Brief History

Japanese knotweed ( Fallopia Japonica) evolved in the volcanic rock of Japan, and developed an extremely hardy root system to overcome the regular deposits of ash and generally hard environment. The roots forced their way deep into the stone to enable its survival.

This wasn’t so much of a problem in England in the 1850s, when Japanese Knotweed was shipped to Kew Gardens, cultivated, and then sold commercially!

Were  They Mad?

Japanese knotweed was introduced as a pretty, ornamental plant, which grew well and could stabilise loose soil banks in mining areas and railway embankments.

It spread unnoticed using water courses, and from cuttings being disposed of. The large scale movement of soil for roadworks also aided the expansion.

Why Is Japanese Knotweed A Problem?

  • Japanese Knotweed can grow at a massive 20cm a DAY!
  • It exploits cracks in concrete and tarmac  with roots and stems.
  • There are no seeds produced in the UK- but the plant can regrow from just 0.8g of the root and underground rhizome.
  • The presence of Japanese knotweed can knock thousands off the value of your property.

Check out this video showing how fast it grows

What Does It Look Like?

japanese Knotweed
The Japanese Knotweed on my property. Note the flat backed spade shaped leaf on zig zag stem

 

DEFRA describe Japanese Knotweed as

..begins to grow in early spring and can grow in any type of soil, no matter how poor. It can grow as much as 20 centimetres per day, and can reach a height of 1.5 metres by May and 3 metres by June. It does not produce viable seeds in the UK, but instead spreads through rhizome (underground root-like stem) fragments and cut stems. Japanese knotweed:

  • produces fleshy red tinged shoots when it first breaks through the ground
  • has large, heart or spade-shaped green leaves
  • has leaves arranged in a zig-zag pattern along the stem
  • has a hollow stem, like bamboo
  • can form dense clumps that can be several metres deep
    produces clusters of cream flowers towards the end of July
  • dies back between September and November, leaving brown stems

The fleshy shoots are often described as looking like red asparagus spears. The stems are similar to a bamboo, and often ‘snap’ with a similar sound to a carrot.

What Can I Do About It?

Japanese knotweed can be treated in a few  ways-:

  • Spraying can take a few years to eradicate, and will require several treatments with chemicals. This is often best for smaller infestations and sites with difficult access.
  • Physically digging out the plant an entire rhizome system is a faster way to deal with a japanese knotweed infestation, and may be suitable for larger or commercial sites.
  • Burial. The contaminated soil is buried within a root barrier system deep underground. This isn’t considered eradication.
  • Bugs!A Japanese bug, aphalara itadori, which feasts almost exclusively on knotweed was released in the uk in 2010.
  • Eat it! Yes its edible. See here for recipe!

The RICS information paper is an excellent source, particularly if you need to show a lender or tenant that the issue isn’t ‘dangerous”

You Must Not:

  • allow invasive plants to spread onto adjacent land – the owner of that land could take legal action against you
  • plant or encourage the spread of invasive plants outside of your property – this can include moving contaminated soil from one place to another or incorrectly handling and transporting contaminated material and plant cuttings
  • japanese knotweed is classified as controlled waste under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

So What Happened To Me?

After that initial furious googling of japanese knotweed, and reading horror stories, I spoke to Environet, who reassured me that the problem was solvable.

I initially tried to contact the owner of the land which had allowed the infestation to cross the boundary, and arranged a meeting with them. They never showed up, and to date have not returned any communication from me.

The lender released funds within a few days of a knotweed survey and the first chemical treatment having being carried out.

Spray Treatment Of Japanese Knotweed
The first spray treatment of Japanese Knotweed

 

In time Environet  put me in touch with a specialist solicitor who is chasing the land owner for the cost of the treatment.

Have you any stories of Knotweed infestation and how it affected you?

 

Photo Diary Of A Bathroom Remodel

Photo Diary Of A Bathroom Remodel.

I spent some time looking through old photos today. They consist of a few pictures of my beagle Henry, and a couple of my girlfriend and I enjoying a lunch or two.

The bulk of my photos however are of broken, damp and disgusting rental buildings.

The following photos are of a bathroom ‘remodel’ I completed a year or so ago. It shows  how a property can be totally transformed with a bit of work, and stealing space from the rest of the property. This certainly added to the value of the property, and to the rental potential:

IMG_0449IMG_0448IMG_0451IMG_0482IMG_0476IMG_0479

These are the before pictures. Nice wallpaper.

The bathroom was tiny with everything being a squeeze. Note the airing cupboard on the landing outside the bathroom door.

Then I did this:

IMG_0483IMG_0484IMG_0488IMG_0489Stripping out the suite, airing cupboard, and taking down the section of stud wall and door frame onto the landing.

There was a problem with the plaster, and the internal concrete block wall, as the gutters had been leaking for years:

IMG_0517IMG_0516

 

which was repaired like this:

IMG_0522IMG_0529

then the stud wall was rebuilt, stealing some room from the bedroom (while still leaving a good sized double) and from the landing. The bathroom now incorporates the space that was the airing cupboard.

IMG_0515IMG_0520

Then the room was boarded re plastered, using bonding coats and multi finish, and the new suite was installed.

IMG_0518IMG_0546IMG_0549IMG_0548

 

Tiles, skirting, and paint were all that was left to finish this bathroom remodel

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The finished room was bigger, with more space to move, and has had no effect on the bedroom or hallway. The photos are from after the property was lived in a while. photo 1-3Bathroom Remodel New Doorway

So this shows what can be achieved with a little bit of thought, rejigging space and using neutral colours. Non of the fixtures were expensive.

The only thing i would change would be the choice of bath. Having the taps centrally mounted looks lovely, but will make future maintenance or repair a nightmare, as i’ll have to remove the tub. Shouldn’t be a problem for a lot of years yet though!

What ways do you have of increasing space to a room without spending a fortune?

How To Avoid Condensation

Dealing With Condensation Issues 101

 

Yes, its that time of year again.

The time of year where your tenants will insist that their property has got  ‘damp’.

Theres a  big difference between ‘damp’ rising or penetrating into building, and condensation moisture building up.

What Is The Difference Between ‘Damp’ And Condensation?

Moisture can become present in your home or rental property in one of three ways:

Rising Damp

Rising damp is often characterised by a ‘tide mark’ which will be apparent around the lower part of the wall.

Rising Damp Tide Mark

This can often be accompanied by damaged skirtings, and rusty nails or screws showing through the paint.  The moisture is drawn up the wall by capillary action- dip and hold the corner of a tissue in your coffee to see the effect. The mark can often reach unto about 1.5m above the ground level. Rising damp brings salts with it, so mould is generally not present.

Penetrating Damp

Fairly obviously, this is when moisture penetrates the fabric of the building. This can occur from anywhere, such as leaking roofs, gutters or downpipes, pointing in poor condition, pipework leaks or badly sealed windows or doors. This will leave a visible patch or stain.

Penetrating Damp to CeilingIMG_1553

 

The first picture shows a patch of moisture from a pipework leak. It has been restricted from above by the ceiling joist. This was a pipework leak, and has allowed mould growth.

The second picture is a bit more extreme- this was caused by two issues combining. The pointing to the brickwork was in terrible condition on this single skinned wall. This is often found where there is a blocked or broken rainwater down pipe.

Condensation

The air in our homes contains a certain amount of moisture all the time. The warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold.

Condensation occurs when the warmer air meets a cooler surface, such as a window, and can’t hold on to the moisture. The air drops the moisture in the form of droplets on the cooler surface. Think about your car or bedroom window on a cold morning.

When Is Condensation A Problem?

We all produce moisture in our homes. Cooking, drying clothes, showers, even our breathing produces moisture. It is normal to find your windows misted up on a cold morning.

However, if the moisture is condensation is constant, it can  lead to mould growth on the affected surfaces.Condensation Mould

What Can Be Done About Condensation

There are four main ways to deal with condensation:

1) Produce less water vapour or steam in your home.

When cooking, keep boiling pans covered. Try to limit the amount of time a kettle boils.

When drying clothes try to do so outside. If you use a tumble dryer, make sure its vented to the outside. If you have to dry clothes inside, avoid using the radiators, and if possible hang up in the bathroom and close the door.

When in the shower or bath, keep the door closed and the window open. Use an extractor if its fitted. If there isn’t one, get one!

Dont use portable gas or paraffin heaters. On top of being very expensive to run, they produce excessive amounts of moisture as the fuel is burned.

2) Try to prevent the moisture from spreading around the property.

Try to think of your kitchen and bathroom as a ‘wet area’ where moisture producing activities like bathing, drying and cooking are confined. Keeping these areas well ventilated and the doors closed will prevent the moisture from spreading around the property. This can be made worse if the adjacent rooms are cold.

3) Keep your home as well ventilated as possible.

All rooms of the property require ventilation. Try to keep windows open where possible, but especially in wet areas. Use the  trickle vents on your windows if you have them.

Try to avoid storing items or furniture in the corners of a room if condensation is an issue- this will prevent air flow to the area and make the situation worse.

4) Keep your home warm.

Heating the property will help with removing condensation problems, but only if you ensure the three previous steps are carried out. You must use a dry heat like central heating or a gas fire, not a portable appliance like a paraffin heater.

Its important that the heating is kept on low, rather than having it on full blast for an hour in the morning. Warmer air will hold more moisture, so you could create wetter air, which will drop that moisture on the cooler surfaces. Keeping the heating on low warms the fabric of the house, reducing the temperature difference with the air.

Dealing With Mould Growth.

The best way to deal with mould growth is to reduce the condensation in the first place, by following the four points above.

Mould can start in corners, hidden behind furniture sitting close to the wall, but can grow across whole ceilings and walls. It can affect the surfaces in the building, destroying wallpapers, your clothes and your furniture.

Washable surfaces can be wiped down using an appropriate mould remover, and fabrics can be washed through. However this could still leave stains and marks.

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