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Why Are British Houses So Mouldy?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Over 20% of British houses suffer from mould, dampness, or condensation problems.
  • Early detection of mould is vital, with warning signs including dampness, musty odours, dark stains, allergy-like symptoms, and moisture condensation.
  • Mould can have adverse health effects, including respiratory problems and allergies.
  • British housing stock’s age and lack of proper insulation contribute to mould issues.
  • Regular maintenance, leak fixes, humidity control, and good ventilation help prevent mould growth.
  • Mould removal costs vary depending on severity, location, and method.

Constant dampness and mould in British houses leave homeowners wondering: Why Are British Houses So Moldy? According to research, more than a fifth of British houses have mould, damp, or condensation problems.

But why do we have to suffer and live in moulded houses? Is it due to the climate? Or the housing stock that’s probably the oldest in Europe? 

Join us as we explore why dampness and mould persist in British houses. We will also discuss how it is possible to tackle this problem effectively. So, let’s find out together!

mould growth

What Are the Causes of Mould In Homes?

Understanding the root causes of mould growth in homes is important to prevent and address the problem effectively. Common causes of mould in homes include:

Persistent Humidity

Living in areas with high humidity can lead to issues with mould. It’s completely natural because of the high moisture content in the air. Mould caused by humidity will likely grow on walls, ceilings, dark cupboards, under the kitchen sink, etc.

High humidity is usually more common in areas near the sea or river. Lack of adequate ventilation can further worsen the mould situation. Moreover, moisture accumulation in the indoor air can also increase mould growth, so it’s crucial to ventilate your home adequately, especially during the warmer months. 

Leaking Pipes in the Home

Leaking pipes are the top culprit for mould lurking behind the drywall or under the sink. Leaky pipes can silently lead to moisture buildup within your walls, creating a perfect, dark, and musty environment for sneaky mould to thrive.

Unfortunately, this issue is something homeowners usually are only aware of once it becomes visible. And by the time they see it, it’s usually too late to prevent the damage. Early detection and prevention are the best measures against this problem!

A Leaking Roof

A roof worn out or damaged from bad weather can cause mould to form on the ceiling. This not only affects the indoor air quality but also damages the structural integrity of your house.

Sometimes, a small leak can gather moisture in your attic or ceiling. Eventually, it turns into mould on your walls and ceiling. Check your attic and ceiling tiles regularly for leaks or damage to prevent this issue.

Solving the issue of a leaking roof promptly can help save you from dealing with a much bigger mould issue at your house.

Mould growth on ceiling tiles

Standing Water

Standing water is another major cause of mould that homeowners often neglect. Several plumbing issues can stop water from draining properly. One common problem is a blocked drain or sewer pipe. 

On top of this, if your toilet overflows even once, water might leak under your floor, causing mould to grow where you can’t see it. If you notice water leaking due to a blocked drain or toilet, you must get it fixed by a plumber as soon as possible before mould starts growing.

5 Warning Signs of Mould in Your Home

When it comes to your home, identifying a potential mould problem early is crucial. Here are five early signs of mould in your home.

Dampness in Walls, Floor, or Cabinets

If your house’s floors, walls, or furniture feel damp, then there’s a high chance of a mould problem at your house. Dampness indicates high humidity, which is like a breeding ground for mould.

Humidity can cause mould to grow on hidden spots, such as the inside of the furniture, mattresses, or walls.

If you feel your home’s humidity level is too high, you can use a dehumidifier to lower it. If you find mould, make sure to get it cleared promptly. This will help keep your home dry and healthy.

A Bad Odour

Mould usually accompanies a strange, musty smell. It’s not like your regular home scent. This smell often starts weak but gets stronger over time.

As mould grows, it releases microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs) into the environment. This includes strong-smelling chemicals such as terpenes, benzenes, aldehydes, and carboxylic acids. When they all mix, they create unpleasant, damp smells

Dark Stains on Walls

Mould on walls or ceilings often appears as dark, discoloured spots or patches. These stains can come in shades and colours, but brown or black mould is the most common. Mould can also appear in shades like green, grey, white, blue, or yellow.

To see if it’s mould, you can check its texture. Mould usually feels soft or fuzzy when touched and can smudge easily. Another way to check is to spritz it with diluted bleach. If it is bleach, the stain will lighten up after a few minutes.

Mildew thrives in moist environments, and mould spores cling to porous materials like soft furniture and foam, which have many tiny holes.

To keep an eye out for mould, check your furniture closely. Look for any strange-looking spots, fuzzy stuff, or little specks. If you spot something like that, it might be time to tackle a mould problem.

Dark mould stains on walls

Allergy-like Symptoms

Do you have a cough, allergy, or respiratory issue that won’t go away? Being around mould for a long time can make respiratory problems worse. This includes symptoms like bronchitis that sticks around or recurring pneumonia. The first step is to see your doctor for treatment and ensure nothing else is causing your cough.

If you’re noticing other signs of mould in your home, getting professionals to handle it thoroughly is important. Your health and your home deserve the best care.

Moisture Condensation

If you find little water droplets forming on your walls, windows, windowsills, or near appliances like the refrigerator, freezer, or air conditioner coils, mould growth might be close behind. 

This happens because these cold surfaces are usually colder than your home’s air or other things. It leads to condensation and then results in mould growth.

Likewise, excess moisture in your home can also result from cooking, bathing, or using humidifiers, contributing to condensation issues. It’s important to control humidity levels and ensure proper ventilation in areas prone to condensation to prevent mould growth and maintain a healthy indoor environment.

Why Do Houses in the UK Mould So Easily?

Mould and dampness are common home maintenance issues people in the UK face. It’s not just a minor inconvenience; it can cause damage to your property and, over time, even affect your health. According to Shelter, one in every five renters in the UK has to deal with rising damp and mould issues.

Several factors contribute to the problem of dampness in British houses. However, the age of Britain’s housing stock tops as the biggest contributor. According to BRE, the UK has the oldest housing stock in Europe and likely in the world.

Many of these houses also lack real damp proofing and adequately fitted insulation, further supporting mould growth and dampness growth in British homes. Most houses built before 1925 don’t have a proper insulation system. The reason? Cost!

Constructing solid walls was already expensive, and adding insulation on top of that cost even more. So many homeowners chose not to install an insulation system at all. Though the new homes now feature damp-proof cavity wall insulation, they need to be built more quickly to meet the demand.

Also, Britain’s weather plays a massive role in causing rising dampness issues in British homes. The ongoing climate crisis has increased rainfall in Britain, further leading to house dampness and mould issues.

How Does Mould Affect Your Health?

If you have been delaying fixing mould problems in your house, it’s time to give it a second thought. Mould spores produce irritants, allergens, and toxic substances. 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) discovered enough proof to connect indoor mould exposure with certain health issues.

Touching or inhaling mould spores can be very dangerous. It can cause several health problems to the inhabitants, such as asthma, allergies, and respiratory infections. 

Other health issues associated with mould problems include stuffy nose, red or itchy eyes, or skin. Severe reactions may include shortness of breath and fever.

For healthy people, it could lead to upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, and wheezing. If you already have asthma, it can make your asthma symptoms worse. And in some cases, it can even trigger hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

How Do You Prevent Mould Growth In Buildings and Homes?

Caution and early prevention can help you keep your house mould-free. Here are some effective measures to keep mould away from your home.

Fix Leaks

Inspect for leaky foundations, roofs, pipes, and faucets regularly. Make sure there is no extra moisture buildup in these areas. If you find any leaks, fix them immediately to avoid mould growth.

Humidity Control

Check the humidity content in your home, especially in the rainy season. The best humidity level for a building falls between 30% and 50%. You can easily measure this with an affordable moisture or humidity meter.

Mould growth on exterior walls

Regular Inspection

Some areas of houses are more likely to get mouldy than others. These include bathrooms and kitchens, especially if they have old pipes and plumbing. 

Other than this, basements, crawl spaces, and attics that don’t have much air flowing through are perfect spots for mould to grow. Even small cracks in the external walls can let water sneak in slowly, but it’s enough to cause mould. Make sure to get these areas checked regularly.

Good Ventilation

Proper ventilation is the best cure for moisture buildup. Not only does this lower the humidity levels in your home, but it also helps stop air from becoming stale. Stale air that sits against cold surfaces can lead to condensation.

During the summertime, it’s easy to improve ventilation—open a window to let in the fresh air. However, this isn’t always practical. It can also be difficult to open your house windows in the winter or if you live near a noisy road.

That’s where modern ventilation systems come in. They can help reduce condensation and keep your home comfortable. For example, you can install extractor fans in your kitchen and bathroom. These fans remove moist air created when you cook or shower.

Timely Action

If there is a flooding or other water damage issue at your home, removing all porous items like carpet, drywall, and ceiling tiles within 48 hours is best.

If the mouldy area is larger than ten square feet, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises hiring a professional mould removal specialist for a safe cleanup.

Mould growth on wall

How Much Does Mould Removal Cost?

The cost to remove mould from houses in the UK can vary depending on several factors. These include the property’s location, mould infestation severity, and removal method. Here’s a rough estimate to give you an idea of the cost:

Small-Scale Removal: Professional removal for small-scale mould issues, such as the ones found in a bathroom or a small wall section, can cost around £150 to £300.

Medium-Scale Removal: The cost can increase from £300 to £1,000 if the mould problem has spread to larger areas.

Extensive Removal: The cost can go up to £1,000 if the mould problem is severe. This happens when mould has infiltrated a significant area of the property. In that case, your house will require more extensive restoration, like structural repairs.

Get Rid of House Mould With Advance Damp

Are you currently dealing with challenges posed by mould in your house? Allow Advanced Damp to be your trusted partner in effectively addressing mould growth at your home. With more than 20 years of experience, we have firmly established ourselves as the UK’s leading damp & property care specialists.

Our commitment to delivering high-quality solutions has earned us the trust of homeowners seeking effective remedies for mouldy homes. Our team of mould experts is skilled at finding the root cause of mould growth and effectively removing mould without damaging your property,

Feel free to contact us on 0208 629 1517 or email us at to get an instant quote for your situation. 

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Frequently Asked Questions – (FAQs)

Can dehumidifiers mitigate the moisture imbalance in houses?

Dehumidifiers are usually not recommended because they don’t address the core dampness problem. However, when people are in overcrowded buildings or landlords aren’t addressing the issue, these machines can temporarily help manage excess moisture and condensation. You would still need to seek professional help if mould has already started forming in your home.

How do you choose the best anti-mould paint?

When it comes to anti-mould paints, avoiding anti-damp paints that can trap moisture is important. Look for paints described as breathable or vapour absorbent, especially for older brick or stone houses.

If mould develops in a rented property, what legal rights do tenants possess?

Renters’ rights regarding mould usually depend on the cause. If it’s due to landlord neglect or property unfitness, they must fix it when informed. Yet, if mould results from tenant-related factors like improper ventilation, the landlord might not be responsible.

Picture of Jake Fitzgerald - Damp Surveyor

Jake Fitzgerald - Damp Surveyor

Surveyor of Timber & Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB) & ( MRICS ) Chartered Quantity Surveyor

Jake is a qualified chartered quantity surveyor and experienced damp specialist with a unique skill set in thermal imaging. With a focus on effective solutions, Jake combines his expertise in quantity surveying and thermal imaging to accurately assess and address damp-related issues. He utilises advanced technology to identify hidden moisture sources and develop targeted strategies, ensuring comprehensive and cost-effective solutions for his clients. With a commitment to open communication and client satisfaction, Jake delivers cutting-edge solutions that tackle damp challenges head-on.

Connect with him on Linkedin...

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