Damp and mould are a perennial concern for homeowners, landlords and property managers. The British climate guarantees that for much of every year, homes will be drenched from the outside, while residents’ normal activities, such as cooking, cleaning, laundry and simply breathing generate a steady flow of moisture inside properties.
Condensation is the most common cause of damp. Especially in smaller and older homes, it is nearly unavoidable unless preventative measures are taken. Much of the UK’s housing stock has been “sealed” with energy-efficient doors and windows which also serve to reduce ventilation and increase the risk of damp. According to the most recent English Housing Survey, more than a million homes in England alone have damp problems.
Many property owners fail to take preventative measures due to the costs of implementation, however, this is almost invariably a false economy. Indeed, for owners seeking ways to save money, an initial outlay on a permanent solution to damp-related problems may be one of the best available investments. Furthermore, as of March 2019, landlords in the UK have a legal responsibility, under the Home (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, to address problems caused by structural defects as well as problems arising from disrepair. Tenants may be able to sue landlords who fail to implement permanent solutions to damp problems.
Ventilation systems such as EnviroVent’s PIV (Positive Input Ventilation) units prevent damp by removing condensation from the air inside a property. As well as being extremely inexpensive to run, EnviroVent’s PIV units can prevent the recurrence of damp-related expenditure, which for many UK property owners can become a yearly cycle of costs and anxiety.
When a damp problem is reported, it is generally necessary for an expert to examine the problem and attempt to identify the source. It’s not always possible to trace the origin of a damp problem at once. Rising damp, in particular, is often misdiagnosed. Property owners sometimes spend a significant sum of money tackling a “rising damp” problem only to find that penetrating damp, condensation damp or interstitial condensation (occurring when moist air is able to penetrate a floor, roof or wall cavity) is the real culprit. Even harder to identify is damp caused by poor plastering or cement rendering. What’s more, these problems can co-exist and complicate one another.
Once the nature of a damp problem is identified, there is the cost of fixing it. The repair depends upon the nature of the problem. Rising damp might require a chemical or osmotic treatment. Where damp has allowed mould to flourish, professional cleaning may be required. In the case of condensation damp, many property owners simply address any mould which has formed and encourage their tenants to ventilate the property by opening windows. However, in many cases, tenants do not wish to incur the extra expense of heating a room with open windows, or they simply feel too cold with windows open.
Unless a permanent solution is put in place, damp is almost certain to recur. By the time a costly problem such as a serious mould infestation has developed, owners are left with no choice but to spend money just to return a property to its original state. There may not be enough left in the kitty to tackle the underlying problem—likely poor ventilation—which caused damp to occur in the first place. The result is that damp returns the very next winter.
In this way, the failure to implement preventative solutions to damp traps property owners in a cycle of maintenance expenditure. Meanwhile, where the property owner is responsible for paying energy bills, expenditure is likely to be far greater when there is an ongoing damp problem. Residents who have no choice but to open a window and turn up the heating to prevent damp generate enormous energy bills. This can be off-putting to tenants, who may choose to leave, resulting in a potential loss of rent or costs incurred in the process of finding new tenants.
Even when it is repaired quickly and efficiently, experiencing a damp problem can be off-putting to tenants—especially tenants with children, or who suffer from asthma. In an era where landlords are subject to more scrutiny through online platforms like The Tenants’ Voice, a recurring damp problem may lead to difficulties finding new tenants for a property.
If damp problems worsen or are not adequately addressed, far greater costs can be incurred. Damp can lead to structural damage, or wet and dry rot in timber. Worse still, if damp is allowed to create an environment in which mould can flourish, there are potentially serious consequences for residents’ health. Black mould is extremely common in damp homes, and its spores can cause breathing problems, infections, asthma and allergies. Judges have been known to award large sums to tenants affected by these issues. These kinds of costs can be ruinous, and when a property suffers from damp, the owner cannot be entirely free of anxiety about incurring such costs. Damp and mould issues also affect the long-term saleability of a property. Nearly half of prospective homebuyers report that they would be disinclined to purchase a property with even minimal visible signs of damp. Nor are the costs of damp only financial. Heating to prevent or control damp increases a property’s carbon footprint. Many owners are unnecessarily impacting the environment by failing to implement permanent solutions which use less energy. Our client Havebury Housing came to us because, as well as wanting to put a stop to their costly cycle of reactive maintenance, they were extremely concerned to reduce their carbon footprint. They chose our PIV (Positive Input Ventilation) units because they are environmentally friendly as well as cost-efficient.
The only way to escape the cycle of expenditure caused by a reactive response to damp is to take preventative measures. Where damp can be prevented at the outset, property owners save the recurring costs of identifying each new outbreak and resolving it.
The primary cause of recurring damp problems is poor ventilation. Steps can sometimes be taken to improve the natural ventilation of property, but the best solution is generally to install a ventilation unit.
EnviroVent’s PIV units draw filtered external air into a property and circulate it throughout from a central location, while simultaneously drawing internal air outside. Air is circulated at a continuous rate, to ensure that within the property, air is always fresh and free of the excess moisture which can cause damp. While an extractor fan may be effective in an individual room, such as a kitchen or bathroom, where condensation is an issue, a PIV unit ventilates the entire property, making it more generally effective against damp.
Powered by ultra-low-watt motors, EnviroVent’s systems use minimal power, which is both cost-saving and environmentally friendly. Furthermore, each unit is designed to last for the life-cycle of the property where it is installed. The unit’s components are recyclable, which means that the unit can usually be repaired, rather than replaced. Backed by a five-year guarantee, an EnviroVent unit is a long-term solution to the problem of damp.
Where damp is already an issue and damp patches have formed, the installation of an EnviroVent PIV unit will usually dry these patches out, allowing for re-painting or other maintenance, and saving the expense of paying for the patch to be tried before maintenance can proceed.
By installing a ventilation system, property owners can free themselves of the regular cycle of damp-related expenses, freeing up cash for other investments that will save money. By guaranteeing that damp problems will not return or worsen, a ventilation system can also save property owners the worry that they will eventually have to repair serious structural damage or find themselves in court.
Temporary solutions to damp issues are sure to waste your hard earned money, so why not consider installing one of our PIV units? The units ensure that fresh filtered air ventilates the whole house, from a centralised point and they are designed to last the life-cycle of your property, alongside a five-year warranty. As you will only need to install one of our EnviroVent PIV units, it means that you will save a lot of money, as well as having a permanent damp solution.
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