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Post Info TOPIC: Damp old houses in winter!


Mookface (mod)

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Damp old houses in winter!


So, Mookdom, yet again I turn to you in my hour of need. I'm sure that a number of you have spent time living in damp, old houses and flats...

So, the flat that I live in with Fry is very affordable (cheap) - we chose it because at the time, he was unemployed, and I was on minimum wage. It's not double glazed, and it's semi detached, so one of the walls gets the rain and cold. It's our first winter here, and we are starting to struggle with damp and mould. It's manageable, but staying on top of it takes quite a lot of housework, and now that we are both working full time (me like, forever, him for at least the next couple of weeks but probably longer - he is freelance and has contracts here and there), I'm looking for any magical pearls of wisdom that might make our lives easier!

We've had problems with mould growing on the bedroom wall. I wiped it down with Flash, and it seems to be ok for now. I've seen people online telling people to wipe down the walls with a cloth every day. There isn't any visible condensation - do I need to do this?

I'm wiping down the windows with a tea towel every day.

The back of the wardrobe is beginning to show signs that it might grow mould, so I've emptied it and am going to wipe it down with Flash. I'll probably do this every week or so, as a preventative measure?!

We keep the bathroom and kitchen doors closed when cooking and bathing. 

We don't really have anywhere to dry our clothes outside, so they dry in the house, which I know is supposed to be bad.

My dad told me I should get some of this window film that you use a hair dryer on to shrink it to the window and it acts like double glazing. Has anyone used this?

Urgh, I bloody hate having to do all of this domestic stuff. I'm just worried because Fry has asthma and I don't want him getting ill... Definitely moving to a fancy new properly insulated place next year! Any helpful advice/rants about similar experiences would be awesome.



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Mookish Deity Most High

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Urgh, that sucks. I've lived in a few houses with mould/damp in my time, and I'll try to do my best to help!

Firstly, mould and damp are two separate things. Damp is that brown staining you get that shows water damage, sometimes accompanied with bubbling of paint as the water comes through the wall. This is often caused by a serious structural issue which has to be addressed by your landlord. It might be best to have them or someone knowledgeable to come in and assess the house about this. The black mould you are experiencing is caused by damp conditions, but it might just be damp air inside the house because you live in it. Mould likes damp, warm places and unfortunately that is most houses in winter!

The things you're doing are good, and if you wipe down the mould with a mixture of bleach and lemon juice that tends to help. I'd recommend ventilating the rooms where you cook and wash wherever possible by keeping window open or using extractor fans. Dehumidifiers aren't always too expensive and are very effective usually in the worst rooms, although they are a bit noisy and bulky. Keep things away from the walls where possible, especially absorbent stuff like upholstery- this prevents air flow in the house allowing damp air to build up in these areas and mould to grow. The window film will make your house possibly warmer (not used it, but grandma has it) but not less damp. It's more effective than single glazing, not as good as real double glazing, and it looks really ugly!

I hope that's helpful! x

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Mookish Deity Most High

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My mum got very small heaters, skirting board heaters I think they are called which don't use much electricity but just keep the chill off the air so it might be worth getting a coupke of them to sit near the worst affected walls. Other than that, ventilation and dehumidifier. My mum also puts a towel along the window ledge to catch the condensation so it doesn't get a chance to seep into the ledges and any cracks around the window.

I don't know about the shrink-wrap stuff.

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Mookface (mod)

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Dehumidifiers! You absolute stars, I had forgotten that those existed. I've just had a look at them on Amazon, and have found some re-usable egg shaped things. I might get a couple of those and pop them on the window sill, in corners where mould tends to happen, etc, and see if that helps, before investing in an electric dehumidifier. Thank you so much!

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Mookish Deity Most High

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My apartment's double glazed but not particularly well ventilated, and my first apartment was a mouldy disaster of epic proportions so I still get quite paranoid here sonetimes... Mostly, its just a bit damp and condesationy, so I always crack a window in each room every morning, fresh air seems to help a bit, especially if you're using the heating a lot. Otherwise a dehumidifer is a great idea and probably your best bet. If you're willing to fork out a bit you can also get both insulating and anti-mould paints. Ive never heard of the window wrap stuff either but it sounds promising! Good luck

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Mookface (mod)

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Would you say that opening the window helps even when it's wet (as in, not actually raining, but has been raining over night), or would it just let more damp air in?

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I think air that's damp with rain is of a different kind of animal to household dampness, you know? Ultimately it's still ventilation, but I guess every home is different - give it a whirl, I suppose.

Oh, and you can get little chemically plastic boxes called damp traps as well, they're kind of gross but they work and they're cheap.

Edit - I've just realised those wee egg things you're describing are probably damp traps! I got a pack of two in the Irish version of Poundland for 1.49 euro, thy last about a month and they work abosultely fine.



-- Edited by MissChris on Tuesday 5th of November 2013 12:34:15 PM

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Seasoned Mookster

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Cling film the windows - it has a similar effect to the shrinkwrappy stuff, but a lot cheaper!

Rather than closing the doors to the kitchen and bathroom when in use, can you open a window? Ventilating steam out of the room works better, because that hot, wet air is still in the house when you're done cooking/bathing and leave it. Extractor fans are a lifesaver - if they're fitted in the house, try to get in the habit of using them. If not, talk to the landlord/lady - rising damp that's causing mould is a health hazard, and if the ventilation in the house is poor enough to cause it under normal conditions, they should do something about it. I'm in a listed building right now, and the landlady had them fitted here long before we moved in.

Vinegar is the best thing for mould. A vinegar-water solution used to clean the surfaces will kill of mould very effectively, although you might still need to do it semi-regularly.

If mould forms in the same places all the time, like in certain cupboards, take note of what is stored in them and how you use them. I took the door off the cupboards in an old place (stored them safely to put back on when we left) and having the cupboard open and ventilated helped - damp air was sitting in there too long. I also invested in lidded storage pots for foods that come in paper or cardboard, like bags of flour and sugar and stuff, so at least if damp got in there it wouldn't spoil the food. Don't overfill cupboards, leave open space for air to circulate. And if the damp cupboards are ones your crockery or cutlery is stored in... make sure those things are completely dry before putting away. A rack for plates helps as well - it separates them, so if any slight dampness is still on one or two plates it can evaporate easily.

Keeping a house warm can help a lot with damp as well. If you don't have central heating, definitely pick up some storage heaters - they can be got second hand pretty cheap if you keep your eye out. And using them can also help with drying laundry indoors - stand the laundry rack in front of or around your storage heater and put it on a higher heat. It'll dry the clothes a lot more quickly. Draft excluders cost money, but you can make some really nice ones by sewing an old jumper into a tube, stuffing it and felting it in the washing machine.

Oh! If you have a tumble dryer, when in use close off the room it's in from the rest of the house and open all the doors and windows in that room.

I'm in a similar position to you. The house I live in is cheap and lovely and our landlady is wonderful. But it's a listed building, no glazing, sash windows, warped copper around door frames that would be keeping more cold air out if not for the warping, shallow cladding for walls, semi-detatched. We also have a permanently-damp basement we can't use and no central heating or gas, which makes things tricky, but fortunately no mould to deal with though the last place we lived in did have a terrible mould problem.

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Lush Guru

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Urgh. My landlord removed the kitchen door a long, long time ago, way before we moved. IT IS SO ANNOYING. Also, ground floor in a not amazing area so we don't/can't open the window in there. BOO.

I am taking heed of all the tips though. We have window vent things, and when we did a bit of research it turns out they should be open during Winter and ideally closed in Summer. I don't know why, I let The Captain deal with that. Do you have any vents? They're in the top of our windows.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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The damp traps from the pound shop work quite well, I've been using them in my new place for a while now and it's definitely kept things at bay. You can get anti mold paint which my landlord has used on all the walls and the only place I've ever seen mold in here is the bathroom which is all wood.



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High Mookish Shaman

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My room at home used to get quite damp because the radiator didn't work so I never wanted to open the windows as I couldn't reheat the room once they were closed - my Mum put a dish of salt on the window sill and that seemed to minimise the moisture in the room. Same as damp traps I suppose but homemade. :)

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