The Darkness Creeping into Our Homes
Mould and dampness are a problem not only occurred in old dwellings but can also become an issue in modern dwellings which have poorly designed and installed ventilation.
The major cause for mould growth in old dwellings is when warm stale air meets cold surfaces and the water vapour condenses. Over time this leads to damp walls which are the perfect breeding ground for mould spores to grow. Generally, the crux of this problem stems from the lack of ventilation allowing fresh air into the property whilst expelling the stale moisture laden air.
There is a close link between these issues and fuel poverty. Often home owners and tenants who are in a poor financial situation will not open windows and block off ventilators to keep the warm air within the property to try and reduce the heating costs of their homes.
This in laymen’s terms seems like an obvious solution to help the problem, in fact it causes further, more serious problems both for the occupiers in terms of health as well as issues which can eventually undermine the fabric of the building itself.
There is a vast lack of knowledge and education with home owners and occupiers and the construction industry as a whole need to address these issues if we wish to meet government targets for reduction in carbon footprints.
The problems do not only lie with older housing stock but can be an issue with new dwellings where strict regulations are forcing builders to construct houses with low air permeability and insufficient fans either by poor design or without proper testing and regulation on site.
I believe in the mantra of build tight ventilate right. This is a tried and tested method, with air tightness tests carried out at vapour barrier stage indicating to what level the dwelling is sealed which in turn allows the ventilation system to be checked and redesigned if required before any installation saving time and costs at completion and creating a better quality building.
In the end problems can occur in both old and new properties and the only solution to prevent the darkness is to educate design teams, tradesman and more importantly the end users as to the importance of ventilation within our homes.