Managing moisture and mould Moisture in dwellings can affect your comfort and health in negative
ways. Moisture can come from rising damp in walls and floors because of problems with the construction of walls and floors. Commonly though, moisture builds up inside a house from breathing, cooking, showering, and laundering. Poorly ventilated houses tend to stay moist. Cold air and cold surfaces create the conditions for moisture to condense on walls, windows, and other surfaces. It is worth drying your windows in the morning if they get wet overnight and throughout the day if necessary. A window cleaner (squeegee) removes most of the moisture and an old towel, chamois or vegan- friendly chamois-like cloth, or recyclable paper wipes can help remove the rest. Drying wet clothes and towels outside whenever possible helps to limit internal moisture accumulation. When moisture is a problem, it is useful to open up your windows and doors for 15 or 20 minutes at a time, during the warmest and driest part of the day.
Home improvements Making improvements to your indoor space can really help. Can you reduce draughts, add heavy curtains (try those second-hand shops), construct pelmets, or add insulation to help to improve indoor comfort? Read on for more detail. Reducing draughts is the easiest thing to do to improve comfort levels in winter. Door snakes work and can be made with remnant materials ( see here ). Special draught proofing strips can be nailed or stuck to leaky doors and are very effective. For more information on draught proofing see Sustainability Victoria’s advice here . Curtains are super helpful because they resist heat flowing out of the house through the windows, the weakest part of a house’s building shell. The thicker and tighter-fitting the curtains, the better. In Tasmania, minimum private rental standards require bedrooms and living areas to have window covering for privacy ( see here ). Curtains provided for privacy may not be very thick. If you have lightweight curtains, consider adding another layer of curtain-like material at night. That addition could be as a simple as hanging a blanket or sheet on top of the curtain. Please do consider safety when taking this step. If a child sleeps under the window, or a heater is installed under the window, for example, adding looser layers on curtains could pose a risk.
Where windows are cold and curtain upgrades are hard to do, two other ideas might be useful.
First, you can use second-hand real estate signs and place them in windows and glazed doors overnight to limit the flow of heat out through glass. Used real estate signs are made of corflute, a fluted construction material made from a synthetic resin called polypropylene and can be purchased at the Tip Shop in Hobart (and there may be other sources around Tasmania). Sheets can be carefully cut to size with a large pair of scissors and layered up by sticking them together. Two real estate signs can be stuck together so the writing is hidden, which makes them a little tidier. Second, bubble wrap can also be stuck to windows for winter, but it will obscure views during the day because usually it gets left on 24/7. Bubble wrap works well on windows that are out of the way, not regularly opened and not relied on for views. Pelmets — box-like covers placed above windows and curtains—also stop heat flowing behind curtains and down cold windows. Remember that after hot air rises to the ceiling of a heated room, it is often wasted because it then sinks behind curtains and is cooled against the window.
Moisture accumulating on surfaces can grow mould and can make you unwell. Mould is too often tolerated in Australian and Tasmanian homes when is should not be. If you notice mould, make plans to remove it. If you can do so safely, you can clean mouldy surfaces yourself.
Department of Health information on ‘Mould in your Home’ can be found here . Tenants Union information on mould can be found here . The Department of Communities Tasmania has the ‘Damp, Condensation and Mould Fact Sheet’ that may also be of interest. See here .
Insulation can be added in ceilings, under floors and sometimes in walls, although this work can be challenging, especially in rental properties. If you are thinking about insulating, see the Your Home guide’s insulation advice here .
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