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#154366 06/09/05 02:27 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
Trumpy Offline OP
Sorry this doesn't actually pertain to any particular Code as least as far as I'm aware.
But with walking into a few houses over here in New Zealand, the problem of dampness in houses, comes up every Winter over here.
New Zealand with having a majority of the housing near the coast and with older, wooden construction, tend to leak heat like a sieve in the Winter and as much as you do as far as draught-protection the houses here still seem to be cold, no matter what sort of heating equipment you use in them.
Figure into the equation, the odd polar blast from Antartica, and it's no wonder these houses are making thier occupants sick.
One House Inspector I was talking to locally measured the inside air temperature at 3C (37.4F) in a house he was investigating, yet it was 10C (50F) outside.
Him and I agreed that rising damp in houses of poor construction or houses that have rotted due to the damp, can be a health hazard.
Oddly enough, most of these situations only happen in Rental houses here, newly built houses all comply with the Building Regulations here as far as Damp is concerned.
Upshot question here, is what can you do about a house that is damp?
Also if you came across a house that was damp inside, would you report it to the appropriate authorities?.
Considering that the tenants often have no way of getting thier Land-lord to repair the place, without being evicted for having reported the situation in the first place.
A vicious circle in my opinion.
Especially if your house is making you sick.
[Linked Image] GRRR

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Joined: Jul 2004
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Likes: 34
Here in Florida the air conditioner is making us seal up the houses better. Back in the olden days the objective was to get as much air flow as you could get to equalize indoor and outdoor humidity. Now we try to make the house "tight". One thing does raise it's ugly head. Everything they "know" in the more temperate climates about vapor barriers is exactly opposite here. We don't really have a heating season so the "warm moist air" is virtually always on the outside, so that is where the vapor barrier goes. This usually shows up in the attic where a "yankee" trained installer will put the vapor barrier down and the insulation gets muddy.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,803
'Damp' (condensation, not leaching in through a bad stucture) is the main symptom of under- ventilation, ( sub-tropical climates aside), and often what's needed is a simple opening of windows for fresh air to circulate to get stale, damp ( 'vitiated' is the old-English word ) air out. This strategy would certainly have helped in the situation above where it was colder inside than out! Tackling leakage or 'draughts' with simple draught-proofing strip at openings will have massive impact for low expense. Some elementary loft/roofspace insulation- 3-4" would help, 6-8" better, can you get grant-aid in NZ? Carpets on the floor or even rugs will help too, epecially wool or wool-mix, as this fibre absorbs water like no other and acts as a buffer in damp periods.

Hey- just thought Trumpy, - you could use sheepskins, I believe they're a popular farm animal in NZ, we eat at least one joint a month of NZ lamb, even here! Improbable? Just this morning at my local 'Brico' (builders merchant) I saw a novel insulation quilt made from chicken-feathers! JHC would THAT make you itch, crawling over bloody chicken-feathers in a loftspace! Arrgghh!!
Put sheepskins in the loft and you'd have 'sparks' up there luxuriating and refusing to come down!


[This message has been edited by Alan Belson (edited 06-11-2005).]

Wood work but can't!
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 276
Ventilation fans in bathrooms, too, might be appropriate. Although it isn't as bad as say, Antarctic rain squalls or whatever, bathrooms are very damp places even after the shower is turned off- best to move the damp air outside rather than let it spread through the house as the bathroom tries to dry out. Bath towels, bathroom rugs, etc. that hang in the bathroom and slowly dry out are also chronically damp. Older houses also seem to have very small bathrooms and little window space for airflow. I live on the coast in California and to a certain extent the dampness is just part of life near the ocean- stuff just dries more slowly here than inland and the rel. humidity is always @ ~70-80% most days anyway. Victory over the dampness may only be relative, and in small degrees.

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 276
Not sure that dampness per se is reason enough to report a landlord to the authorities, but I have seen it become grounds for breaking a lease when the dampness was so great that it caused mold to grow on the walls of the place and on the tenants belongings- fortunately for everyone involved it was harmless mold- but it did render the dwelling uninhabitable so the tenant got out of the lease with no penalty. In the states, this would fall into one of those legal gray zones where it isn't really clearly defined who has what rights under the law. I think dampness alone wouln't be grounds for any action, but if the dampness was negatively affecting the integrity of the structure or denying the tenant "quiet enjoyment" of the place or rendering the place ininhabitable (according to health and safety regs..), then there might be something concrete to report, but a "cold drafty old place" in and of itself wouldn't really be anything that would get anyone's attention down at city hall. "Caveat Emptor" is the guiding principle for renters over here. Unfortunately this also creates a nurturing environment and economic incentive for slummy landlords as well... Maybe an answer would be to have biennial health & safety inspections; but landlords would never go for this..

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
Trumpy Offline OP
Ryan (trollog),
Upshot of the problem we have here is the fact that a few land-lords just like to get the rent and that's it.
I do the odd house inspection through the New Zealand Fire Service here (for Fire safety reasons) and I'll tell you now, that there would be no way in H*ll that a house like this could burn down or even catch fire in the first place.
Pretty much, the wood on the outside of the building is so rotten that it wouldn't burn in a month of Sundays, but in some cases you can look straight through into the rooms inside.
That's what I meant about sub-standard living conditions.
When you can see mould over 80-90% of the interior of the house, it's time to bring in the bulldozers.
A tent would be better than some of these houses.
Electrical fires are common in these sorts of houses after the old fabric-covered wires get too damp.
Try and call the land-lord from the Fire Appliance, he never seems to be home. [Linked Image]

Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 240
how about a de-humidifier in the furnace or a stand alone unit which you empty the water daily.


Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 54
I live in a Lakeside cabin, entirely constructed of tongue n groove 8" x 2" cedar boards, before I had siding and insulation installed, and the central air unit replaced, you couldn't place anything against the walls w/o mold growing both on the walls and the furniture. this place was built in the mid 60's and the AC system dated from that same time period.
Once I did the renovations, for siding/insulation, and the central air unit the mold problems went away.

Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 482
What we have here (in the US) as a motivation for landlords to maintain and repair their rental properties is an overburdened civil court system. If a renter can prove that neglect by a landlord has been a direct cause of illness in the tenant or the tenants children, due to mold or simply drafty and damp conditions, that landlord will be in a financial mess for a very long time to come.

Landlords often find that it's easier (and cheaper) to just spend the money on maintenance and occasional improvements rather than deal with a huge, court imposed judgement.

Also, in California, if a landlord fails to comply with health and building codes after several requests (in writing), there is a method that a tenant may use to withhold payment of rent until said repairs are made. And then, the tenant cannot be evicted on the grounds that they reported the violation.

It looks good on paper anyway...

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