damp and mould in house

Why Are British Homes So Damp and Mouldy?

25 January 2022

As a nation, Britain has a big problem with damp, it can not only cause damage to your home but if left for a long period of time, it can also cause problems to your health as well. According to Shelter, there are 1 in 5 renters who are affected by damp and mould in Britain. So why are mould and damp problems so common in British homes?

The biggest causes of dampness in British homes is the age of the UK housing stock. In fact, the UK has some of the oldest housing stock in Europe. (BRE group https://files.bregroup.com/bretrust/The-Housing-Stock-of-the-United-Kingdom_Report_BRE-Trust.pdf). Poor building practices, such as inadequately fitted insulation and having no real damp proofing in place at all are also major contributors to dampness in British homes.

Old Housing Stock in Europe

Old Victorian cottage house

As we have just mentioned, the UK has some of the oldest housing stock in Europe. The reason for this is that during the industrial revolution many houses were constructed in towns and cities to house the workers. Many of these properties are still readily available in urban areas in the UK. These houses are still valued by a majority of property owners, however, these properties can also pose risks to health and safety as well as the chances of damp problems occurring if not maintained properly.

 

Poor insulation in Homes

Poor insulation is an issue with much of the older housing stock in Britain as they do not have sufficient insulation installed to eliminate draughts and stop damp emerging. Houses that were built before 1925 were constructed withsolid walls but unfortunately, these needed insulating. One of the main reasons was that these walls are very expensive to build and therefore the cost for insulation being installed was also high this deterred many homeowners off from paying.

All the new build properties that are constructed in Britain are constructed with damp proof cavity walls. The problem is the rate at which these properties are being built is not quick enough to keep up with demand.

It is also important to note that cavity wall insulation can have problems with damp. This is predominately as a result of the insulation not been installed correctly. Another reason for damp problems as a result of cavity wall insulation is that the property may not have required insulation fitting in the first place.

There are properties that do not need cavity wall insulation installed as it may not be suitable for that particular style of property. Cavity wall insulation can cause damp issues as the brickwork can act as a bridge for the moisture to penetrate its way through into the inner walls of the house.

British Weather

This is not an overly surprising reason but the weather is a big cause of damp problems in houses across Britain. According to the Environment Agency in 2021, there was an average of 853 mm of rainfall in England. Due to the current climate crisis, we are also experiencing more extreme rainfall. It is not that we are necessarily experiencing more rainfall more the greater severity of the rain when it does fall. It is this which then leads to damp issues with your house.

If there are any gaps in the walls or windows of the house, then these will also leave your house vulnerable to damp problems.

Poor Ventilation and Regulated Heating

Condensation is the main cause of damp, and it occurs when moisture laden air comes into contact with a cold surface e.g. a window or a wall. The reason for the build up of moisture in the air is people carrying out day to day activities within a property. These activities include bathing, cooking and even breathing.

If the heating is not turned on regularly or there is no sufficient ventilation in place, then moisture will start to build up onto cold surfaces. Black mould spots as a result of condensation will start to appear and will eventually lead to more serious damp problems occurring.

Currently, one of the main issues with heating properties is that energy prices in the UK increased rapidly in 2021. This had led to greater fuel poverty and as a result a reluctance with home owners to heat their properties effectively in an effort to keep household bills down.

What Can Be Done to Stop Damp and Mould?

While Britain may be prone to having damp and mould problems, there are measures you can take to help prevent these problems from occurring. As we already discussed, poor cavity wall insulation is one of the main reasons for damp to occur. We would recommend that you contact a member of the Property Care Association (PCA) who can assess dampness within your walls and check whether or not cavity wall insulation is the root cause of the problem.

Due to extreme weather and rainfall, if you notice that there are any gaps in the walls or windows of your house then these should be sealed as soon as possible to stop damp from penetrating its way through. You should have a qualified structural engineer carry out the remedial works to fix any structural defects that could be allowing moisture to enter the house.

Ventilation and heating are key areas that have to be addressed to stop condensation from forming. Whilst energy prices increased back in 2021 and this may deter you from using your heating, it is something you will need to look into. For example, if your boiler is not working efficiently then it is worthwhile looking at upgrading your boiler.

Regarding ventilation, this is an area that can have a significant impact on reducing the amount of moisture laden air in your property and, if managed correctly, can stop the likelihood of condensation occurring. Ventilation can be improved by the installation of extractor fans or positive input ventilation systems.

If you are worried about the possibility of rising damp causing problems to your property, then you should book a damp survey with a qualified specialist who can assess your property to check if your damp proof course has broken down.

For more information on the issues discussed in this article, then don’t hesitate to contact our highly experienced team at Timberwise by contacting us online or calling us on 0800 288 8660.