Humidity and mould problems in housing have become more common due to factors such as increased water consumption and poor ventilation.
Leaks are also the cause of problems in many homes. Leaks are caused by old plumbing and corroded home appliance fittings, faulty installation methods, and careless use of equipment.
Solving humidity problems:
- If you live in a housing company, contact the house manager. Structural repairs are the responsibility of the housing company. Note that it is not permitted to start rectifying humidity problems without notifying the housing company in advance.
- If you live in your own house, take immediate action to solve the problem.
Humidity damage does not cause mould and health problems right away. Nevertheless, humidity problems must be rectified quickly in order to prevent health problems in the future.
The prerequisites for the growth of mould include spores, a suitable temperature and in particular sufficient humidity. The underlying reasons for problems must be investigated during renovation.
Signs of structural humidity problems:
- Materials becoming detached (for example, paint peeling or bubbling)
- Changes in surface colouration (for example, darkening of parquet floor or black spots forming on tile)
- Visible mould growth, or mould odour (could be like a dirt cellar or musty, pungent, sweet, etc.)
See to the following:
- Find out where the main shut-off valves are for the residence and for each pipe (ask the caretaker or check the maintenance log) so that you can cut off the flow of water if a large leak occurs
- Check that floor and wall surfaces in wet spaces are intact and that seams in plastic surfacing are properly sealed
- Inspect the condition of pipe gaskets and check that faucets and drain traps are properly fitted
- Check that drains are not blocked. Clean drain traps (of floors, sinks) regularly
- Ensure that waterproofing and humidity control is adequate and correctly installed when you are having refurbishment work done (or doing it yourself)
- Keep house gutters and downpipes clear of debris
- Install a washing machine or water heater only in a space that has a floor drain
- Put plastic safety tubs under washing machines so that leaks can be detected as quickly as possible.
Prevent excessive humidity from forming:
- Always use a squeegee to wipe bathroom tiles dry after taking a shower or when the tiles get wet for any other reason
- Reduce the amount of time it takes for clothes to dry by hanging them in a dry area of your home (on a rack) rather than in your laundry room
- When taking a sauna, avoid getting the walls and benches wet, and air it well afterwards
- In an apartment building, find out when the enhanced ventilation times are and use them to your advantage. Ventilation is usually on at full power for a few hours in the mornings and evenings, and at half-power the rest of the time.
A suitable room temperature is 21–22 degrees. At temperatures below 18 degrees, the relative humidity of the air may increase to the point where fungi and other microbes infiltrate building structures.
Signs of inadequate ventilation:
- A sheet of paper pressed against a ventilation outlet won't stay up on its own
- The washroom mirror fogs up during a shower and doesn't clear up within 10 minutes afterwards
- Stale odour in a room
- Mould growing on wall surfaces or at the edges of the floor or ceiling, or on water pipes
The air exchange rate in a home should be at least once every two hours. Pay particular attention to ventilation in washrooms, in the kitchen and in bedrooms, where most of the humidity in residences comes from.
Liability distribution for damage from damp in housing company apartments
The liability for the sale of a new apartment falls on the seller or investor.
In used apartments, the repair costs may be distributed between the seller, the housing company and, in some cases, the first seller of the apartment. The seller is liable to pay their own share if the apartment was sold less than two years ago, and the defect in question constitutes a flaw specified in the Housing Transactions Act. The housing company is usually responsible for any structural repair costs.
The liability of the apartment's first seller for defects may come into play if a defect is caused by a construction defect that could not have been detected during annual inspections. In these cases, the owner of a housing company apartment may refer to the defect even if this owner purchased the apartment used.
Who is responsible for humidity problems in a single-family house ?
A humidity damage detected in an aging house does not automatically entitle the buyer to compensation from the seller.
In assessing the defect, in addition to the age of the house the source and extent of the humidity damage are considered, as well as information the seller provided and failed to provide, the amount of costs associated with rectification of the defect, the marketing information given regarding the property and whether the defect is a so-called concealed defect.
Humidity damage must, however, always be rectified. Contact consumer advisors to inquire whether you should claim compensation from the seller in your particular case.