Winter Strata Protection: Rising Damp, Mould, and Prevention Best Practices in Strata Buildings

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Maintaining a healthy living environment in your strata scheme is crucial for the well-being of residents and the structural integrity of the apartments. Common issues that can compromise this environment are rising damp, mould due to poor ventilation, and mould resulting from water ingress.

Understanding these issues and implementing best practices for prevention is essential for owners corporations and residents alike.

Rising Damp: Causes and Consequences

Rising damp occurs when moisture from the ground travels upwards through the walls of a building. This phenomenon is typically caused by the failure of a damp-proof course (DPC) or the absence of one altogether. Over time, rising damp can lead to structural damage, decay, and an unhealthy living environment.

Signs of rising damp include:

  • Damp patches on walls, often near the skirting boards
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Flaky Or bubbling plaster
  • Damp or wet patches on the walls 
  • Salts and mineral deposits on walls
  • Damp or Musty smells or odours
  • Black mould on the walls

Mould Due to Poor Ventilation

Mould growth is a common issue that arises throughout buildings in the winter months due to inadequate ventilation. When indoor air is not properly circulated, moisture from everyday activities such as cooking, showering, and even breathing can accumulate, creating an ideal environment for mould spores to thrive.

Indicators of mould due to poor ventilation may include:

  • Black or green spots on walls, ceilings, and other surfaces
  • A persistent musty smell
  • Increased allergy or asthma symptoms among residents

Mould Due to Water Ingress

Water ingress refers to water entering the building through leaks or cracks in the structure. This can be caused by faulty roofing, damaged plumbing, or poor building maintenance. When water ingress occurs, it often leads to mould growth in hidden areas, making it more challenging to detect and address.

Signs of mould due to water ingress may include:

  • Staining or discoloration on walls or ceilings
  • Damp or wet spots that do not dry out
  • Visible mould in hidden areas such as under carpets or behind walls

Best Practices for Prevention

Preventing rising damp, mould due to poor ventilation, and mould from water ingress requires a proactive and comprehensive approach. Here are some best practices for strata buildings:

1. Regular Inspections and Maintenance

  • Conduct regular inspections of the building’s exterior and interior to identify signs of dampness or water ingress.
  • Ensure that the damp-proof course is intact and functioning properly.
  • Repair any cracks or leaks in the structure promptly.

2. Improve Ventilation

  • Install and maintain proper ventilation systems in high-moisture areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundries.
  • Encourage residents to use exhaust fans and open windows regularly to facilitate air circulation.
  • Consider the use of dehumidifiers in areas prone to high humidity.

3. Address Water Ingress Promptly

  • Regularly inspect and maintain roofing, gutters, and downpipes to prevent water from entering the building.
  • Ensure that plumbing systems are in good condition and repair any leaks immediately.
  • Seal any gaps or cracks in the building’s structure that could allow water ingress.

4. Implement a Moisture Management Plan

By adhering to these best practices, strata buildings can significantly reduce the risk of rising damp, mould due to poor ventilation, and mould from water ingress.

Proactive maintenance and maintaining a detailed record of inspections, maintenance activities, and any issues identified to track progress and ensure accountability.

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