New Zealand is renowned for damp winters, both inside and out. If you hang your washing in the spare room on Monday, chances are it will still be wet on Thursday.
A damp home is hard to heat and can make your family ill. Damp homes are associated with increased numbers of doctor’s visits for respiratory problems such as asthma. New Zealand has the highest rate of asthma in the western world with one in four kids having the problem at some point.
Dampness encourages mould and mildew which can also harm your health. Damp homes deteriorate more quickly, and they’re uncomfortable and unpleasant to live in.
Here are some tell-tale signs of a damp home:
- Condensation on hard surfaces
- Water stains.
- Swelling and rotting wood or wood-based materials.
- Rotting carpet.
- Damp curtains and soft furnishings
- Bubbling on your interior walls.
- Grotty, musty smells.
In some cases the problem can be fixed by making your roof, cladding, window and door flashings weathertight, but for most of us the following tips will help dry out your house:
To prevent damp air from building up under the floor:
- Make sure there is sufficient ventilation. A DVS ventilation system will make a huge difference.
- Make sure water isn’t draining from paths or gardens under the house. You may need to create channels or underground drains to divert surface run-off.
- Cover the ground area beneath your home with heavy-grade polythene, make sure you cover the entire area and tape the joins.
- Look at insulating beneath the floor – this is a relatively cheap way of making a significant difference.
Everything we do through living and breathing creates moisture, and obviously this needs to go somewhere, the average family creates around 12 litres of moisture each day just through breathing. Showers, cooking (especially on the stove top), flueless gas heaters, and indoor drying of clothes all create large amounts of water vapour leading to condensation.
The best remedies are to reduce the amount of moisture or extract moisture as close to its source as possible. Some good ways to reduce condensation include:
- Not drying clothes indoors.
- Putting lids on pans when cooking.
- Using extractor fans when cooking or showering.
- Keeping your showers short.
Let moist air out and dry air in by:
- Opening your windows – especially in wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.
- Close the door to the bathroom or kitchen when cooking or bathing.
- Use outside venting extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
- Venting clothes dryers to the outside (an average load creates 5 litres of water vapour).
- Ensuring aluminium windows have passive ventilation – a posh way of saying little holes that let the moisture out.
- Using a ventilation system – I believe these should be standard in New Zealand homes, go to a showhome that has one and you will certainly notice the difference.
- Block off draughts.
- Insulate your ceiling.
- Consider installing double glazing, this has become a lot more affordable.
- Check that existing insulation is in good condition. Small gaps in insulation significantly reduce the effectiveness.
- Aim to keep the indoor temperature at least 7ºC warmer than the outdoor temperature to prevent condensation forming on colder surfaces. A well ventilated home is easier to heat because dry air heats more quickly than damp air.
- Use low levels of heat all the time rather than high levels in short bursts. This reduces condensation.
- Do not use flueless gas or kerosene heaters – they release up to one litre of water per hour and also give you just so many deadly gasses into your home… If you have one I will come myself and take it from you and dump it. New Zealand is the only delevoped nation in the world where these are legal.
You will be amazed at the difference these measures can create, if all else fails consider moving to Perth, no dampness there – however you do have to deal with the Western Force rugby team.