Follow these tips to ensure your home is dry, which will make it easier to heat and keep you healthier.

There is a lot of talk nowadays about moisture in older rentals but it’s important to remember that in the past, people lived in these houses without any ill-effects to their health or belongings. It is just a matter of regularly ventilating the property, along with doing things the way they ‘used to be done’.

Tackle the source

The key strategy for avoiding dampness problems is:

  • eliminate avoidable moisture sources - like not drying your clothes indoors;

  • extract moisture at the source in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry;

  • ‘air out’ general moisture from the home daily - through open doors and windows, or with a ventilation system;

  • remove any water that pools on window sills. Condensation on windows forms when moist air hits cold windows - if your windows are ‘weeping’ this is a sign that you need to work harder to remove moisture from inside;

  • keeping the home warm - with insulation and heating - to improve ventilation effectiveness and reduce the risk of mould growth on cold surfaces.

Steps to tackle dampness issues

Open windows for a few minutes each day

Open curtains during the day

Use extractor fans

Use extractor fans that vent to the outside in your bathroom, kitchen and laundry. Make sure extractor fans are:

  • turned on before having a shower or bath - and shut the bathroom door. Leaving the bathroom window open slightly allows air flow into the bathroom and will improve the extractor fan's effectiveness

  • left running for a few minutes after a shower or bath - until most of the moisture has cleared, with the bathroom door shut and the bathroom window open

  • cleaned/vacuumed regularly - to maintain their performance

Decrease moisture release in bathroom, kitchen and laundry

  • Dry your towel outside - after having a bath or shower - whenever possible.Otherwise use your heated towel rail.

  • Avoid drying your clothes inside. Dry them outside in the sun and wind, or under a covered verandah, garage or carport. When the weather doesn't allow this, use a clothes dryer that is ducted to outside.

  • Use lids on pots when cooking - to reduce moisture release and to conserve energy.

If you use unflued gas heaters

If you’re using a gas heater or LPG portable heater without a vent or flue, always keep at least one window open to allow fresh air to enter the room. Never use unflued gas heaters in bedrooms.

Furniture placement

  • Keep furniture away from external walls - especially if they are uninsulated. Leave a gap of 10 cm or more behind large objects like furniture to avoid mould growing behind them in winter.

  • Keep mattresses off cold floors - put them on a bed base to let air circulate underneath.

  • Leave wardrobes slightly open for ventilation.

Remove any mould

Mould is a fungus that lives in damp areas. Look for mould regularly on bathroom ceilings and in hidden areas like wardrobes, under carpets, behind curtains and furniture.

If you find any mould you must remove it properly to help prevent it returning/spreading.

Methods for cleaning and removing mould depend on the type of surface. We don’t recommend bleach or commercial mould removers because they release harmful fumes into your home over a long period of time. We also do not recommend treating mould with vinegar, as any residue left behind may encourage more mould growth in the future.

Removing Mould from Wooden Surfaces

  1. Thoroughly scrub away all visible mould using soapy water and a cloth or scrubbing brush.

  2. Rinse well with water and a clean cloth.

  3. Let dry completely.

  4. Disinfect the affected surface by applying methylated spirits or isopropyl alcohol (available from supermarkets and hardware stores) to the area using a brush or spray bottle. Air the room well during treatment until all fumes have evaporated. Do not smoke or use candles whilst handling methylated spirits or isopropyl alcohol.

  5. Let it set for 30 minutes.

  6. Re-apply methylated spirits or isopropyl alcohol.

  7. Let it set for a further 30 minutes.

  8. Wipe with a clean cloth and methylated spirits or isopropyl alcohol.

  9. Clean all cloths and brushes well, or throw them in the rubbish when finished, to avoid spreading mould spores.

Removing Mould from Other Materials

Mould on smooth surfaces like glass, porcelain or metal can simply be washed away with water and a household cleaner.

For mould on fabrics such as clothing, bedding, or upholstery, wash and dry, take to the dry cleaners or throw out. Follow manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

Removing Mould from Carpets, Curtains, Wallpaper, & Unpainted Plasterboard

Before trying to remove mould from these surfaces please contact us to discuss the best options.

Use a dehumidifier

Investing in a good quality dehumdifier is essential when you live in Auckland as we experience very high levels of humidity here. Dehumidifiers are useful during periods of damp weather, but are unlikely to stop mould growth unless you also address the points above, and heat and ventilate your home.

At low indoor temperatures, desiccant dehumidifiers tend to be more effective than refrigerant compressor dehumidifiers. Although they use electricity, it’s eventually released as heat and helps warm up the room.

Whatever type of dehumidifier you use, run it together with a heater. Having a warm room makes it easier for a dehumidifier to extract moisture.

Before I moved in Firsthand sent me lots of information about my new rental, and how to sort out electricity, gas etc. Their ‘Welcome Home Pack’ was really useful and just made the whole process so much easier. If I ever have any questions I just text Valeria and she gets back so quickly. Thanks!
— David G, Epsom

Thank you very much for everything and that you always respond to our queries. Our friends just found a place through another property management company, and the agent is just ignoring them now that they’ve moved in. Just made us realize how lucky we are to have ended up with you.
— Corne M, Titirangi

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