An alarming statistic is that 1 in 5 homes across the UK suffers from condensation and mould. Aside from being unsightly, this can cause health problems including worsening asthma, triggering allergic reactions, and causing long term health issues including fatigue and headaches.
It can be tempting to think that simply improving ventilation with a single extractor fan in a kitchen or bathroom can immediately solve condensation issues, however this is not always the case and many of the 20% of houses in the UK with condensation or damp problems already have some form of ventilation – it just isn’t adequate for their needs.
According to Part F of the building regulations:
“There shall be adequate means of ventilation provided for people in the building.”
In most cases, this is interpreted as a minimum standard requirement for ventilation and does not always consider the specific requirements of an individual property. As a result, what is considered adequate in one property may be insufficient in another similar home due to the way the property is used and inhabited.
There are multiple factors that should be considered when planning the amount of airflow and ventilation required.
The most immediate differentiating factor is the occupancy level of a home. More people means an increased number of showers or baths being taken; more cooking; and more drying of clothes. A house with more people in it will also produce more dust which can contribute to health problems such as Asthma.
The fabric of a home is also a factor – how well insulated it is and what kind of windows are present will affect how much natural airflow there is.
Location can make a big difference too. A house close to a major road will attract higher levels of particulate pollution from the road, and the occupants may take mitigating steps to prevent noise – such as keeping windows closed – which can affect how much fresh air is allowed into the property.
When planning ventilation these factors need to be accounted for, however in some cases they are not, and as a result the amount of ventilation is inadequate, even when a considerable amount of money has been spent on it.
Achieving the minimum standard to meet Part F of the building requirements may not be sufficient to meet the real world needs of the house and its occupants.
The most immediate indicator of ineffective ventilation is the presence of black mould on walls and ceilings. No amount of cleaning will banish black mould – you need adequate air flow through all rooms to prevent the damp and condensation that cause it.
Landlords need to pay particular attention to the levels of damp in their properties. Aside from long term costs of repair and redecorating, they have a duty of care to their tenants and must protect their health under law.
If ventilation is not fit for purpose, there will be a direct impact on the health of residents.
A detailed review of the air quality in a property along with consideration of occupancy, location and use will uncover what the true requirements for ventilation in that property are.
Once this has been assessed, it can be addressed with a modern ventilation system that will protect both the occupants and the fabric of the property to keep it in better condition.
For more information about arranging a survey on your property or across your housing stock, speak to one of our local specialists who will be happy to advise you on your individual requirements.
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