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Why Damp is a Major Problem for Older People

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Why Damp is a Major Problem for Older People

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Mar 04, 2024

Damp, whether caused by moisture entering your home from the ground (rising damp), coming into the property through a hole in the roof or a cap in the wall (penetrating damp), or caused by high levels of humidity in the house (condensation damp), can be a major problem that affects both your health and the fabric of your home.

If damp is allowed to persist, it creates the perfect environment for mould to grow, and causes damage to walls, woodwork, and paint that can be expensive to repair. Damp can develop quickly and cause long term issues but is a particular problem for older people.

Why is damp more dangerous for older people

When damp conditions are present in a property, it creates multiple problems. The most immediately obvious of these is mould. Mould will develop quickly over damp patches, spreading in dark patterns on the walls and releasing spores that allow it to spread to other areas fast. Once mould has started to grow in a property, it can quickly get out of control and require professional cleaning.

A less obvious problem that damp allows is dust mites. Damp conditions allow dust to build up around the edges of rooms, and this becomes home to countless tiny dust mites. These microscopic creatures consume the dust, and their waste products can build up and are light enough to be carried around on the slightest breeze.

Both mould spores and dust mite waste are irritants that, if inhaled can cause allergic responses, and these, among other issues are worse for older people.

The main reason older people are more affected by problems caused by damp is that they naturally have a weaker immune system. As we age, our ability to resist illness can lessen, and mean that we become sick more easily. Over time, persistent illness can further weaken the immune system in a vicious cycle that can become life shortening.

What health issues can older people face in a damp home?

The most common health issues faced by older people are respiratory. Dampness can exacerbate conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other lung diseases. Higher moisture content in the air can make symptoms worse and lead to unwanted fungal infections.

Older people often have pre-existing health conditions. Dampness can worsen these conditions, affecting overall well-being. Cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and other age-related ailments may be aggravated by living in damp environments.

Reducing damp through improved ventilation

The most common source of damp in British homes is condensation. As the air cools at night, it cannot hold as much water vapour, and this is deposited on cold surfaces. When the droplets of water soak through into the underlying material they cause damp patches to form where, in time, mould will grow.

Being on fixed incomes, many older people use their heating less, or only heat the areas of their home where they spend time. This means that temperatures can be uneven and cause damp to form out of sight. In some cases, damp and mould may not be discovered until too late.

Improving the ventilation of your home is effective in reducing the condensation that causes damp. Extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens remove substantial amounts of steam when cooking or bathing and prevent it escaping into other areas. In cases where some rooms in a property are not occupied, whole house ventilation systems such as EnviroVent ATMOS may be more suitable. Positive Input Ventilation Systems draw fresh air into the property continuously to displace the moisture laden air. This improves air circulation and prevents condensation from forming in areas that are not often used.

Find out more

Preventing damp from causing mould growth is important in protecting the health of older residents. Contact your local EnviroVent ventilation specialist to book a FREE home survey that will identify the causes of condensation in your property by entering your postcode below.

Need help with condensation, mould or damp problems?

One of our local experts will contact you to learn more about your problems, offer free expert advice and make recommendations for a permanent solution.

During the free survey we will

  • check Assess any condensation, damp or mould problems in your property
  • check Take readings of the relative humidity levels
  • check Identify any underlying problems and make recommendations for a permanent solution

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