Trade body sets out concerns on excess moisture and air quality in homes

[February 2017]

A national trade body is reporting a surge in the levels of excess moisture in properties across the UK.

The Property Care Association (PCA), says many of its 400 members across the UK are encountering higher levels of humidity and wetness in homes.

According to the association, a range of factors associated with modern living and the way homes are occupied have contributed to the rise.

These include increased levels of occupation and rising fuel costs, as well as a drive to make homes more energy efficient.

Efforts to reduce air leakage through draught proofing and retrofit insulation, as well as the changing climate patterns, featuring warmer, wetter weather, are also of significance.

The PCA says that left unchecked, the resulting problems from excess moisture can include poor air quality, condensation, dampness and mould.

Steve Hodgson, chief executive of the PCA, said: “This is an issue which can have significant consequences, with excess moisture in a building potentially affecting both its fabric and the comfort and wellbeing of occupants if left unchecked.

“We believe the frequency of problems associated with damp and mould from indoor air is only set to get worse, with unseen and as yet underestimated problems being created due to these new pressures on properties.”

The PCA says a greater focus on more effective ventilation in UK homes can help tackle the problem.

Mr Hodgson added: “Despite the impact that good ventilation can have on a property’s moisture levels, the current regulation and guidance setting out minimum requirements in homes is mixed and usually ignored or misunderstood.

“Ultimately, understanding how to balance moisture production, insulation, the use of heat and ventilation, as well as a good technical understanding of the science of air moisture and excess water, is the key to eliminating condensation and mould.

“In response to this, the PCA established the Residential Ventilation Group (RVG) last year to signpost people to specialists capable of designing appropriate residential ventilation solutions.

“PCA members understand the consequences of high humidity in homes and deal with the consequences of poor air quality, condensation, dampness and mould, every day.

“The development of this new ventilation group builds on their existing knowledge and expertise regarding all the different variables which can affect moisture levels in buildings, such as the building construction, style of occupation, heating, thermal performance of walls and floors and the provision of air exchange.”

The PCA is also working with other professionals and organisations to investigate the issue.

This includes a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the PCA and the University College London Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (UCL IEDE).

The project addresses a significant deficit in research in the UK into excess moisture in buildings.

Researchers from the UCL IEDE are tapping into the expertise of the PCA and its members across the UK to collect, analyse and develop data.

The research will take into account the variables which can have an impact on a building’s performance, such as the lifestyle of its occupants, the structure’s condition and climate.

With this information on board, the UCL IEDE team will then work with the PCA to develop a diagnostic tool which will underpin the strategy for remediation works.

The KTP has been awarded a substantial grant from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to carry out the programme.  The PCA will also be adding funding towards supporting delivery of the programme.

Watch the video:  Moisture in Buildings