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black mould

(18 Posts)
TheOddity Thu 26-Nov-15 16:47:45

We have black mould in our lounge on an outside wall of the flat. We don't have this problem elsewhere in the house, just this one wall. I know black mould is normally a condensation problem from googling but how on earth to solve it?! I open windows every single day for an hour or so and wipe the window down as it is always condensed with water., we heat it adequately, washing is hung outside not in.

The floor is concrete, it's not an extension as its a big apartment building and we are first floor. It's rented and various people have come to look at the problem and made spurious claims it's because there is a balcony above us or a shower above them. Could have been a problem but they have checked that is all sealed and meeting regs. I think the render on the wall where the gutter is doesn't look too great on the corner which is the same corner that has the mould internally. I'm not sure if the wall is insulated or if it's a cavity wall etc as it isn't my flat. Not sure if there are air bricks.

It only gets bad when heating is on and it's cold outside. I can't really see outside what the pointing is like etc.

Where do we start re. The landlord having to sort this? I'm pregnant and don't like being near black mould and for my toddler. I feel like I need to tell them what I expect them to do, but not sure what that is!!

Any advice from people who have been through this/ experts very much appreciated!

specialsubject Thu 26-Nov-15 18:25:48

general rule is condensation is a lifestyle issue (i.e. you), damp is the building (i.e. the landlord).

sounds like you are doing all the right things to minimise condensation. So pass on your thoughts re render, pointing etc to the landlord, that's well worth a look. He/she may be trusting his contractors, and you've seen that isn't justified!

TheOddity Thu 26-Nov-15 20:05:29

You're so right. It's a managed building and the people who manage it are just repeatedly coming round and looking inside, peering for five seconds out of the window, but no one has bothered to get a ladder and check the bloody guttering, render, damp proof course, insulation, etc etc, all the usual suspects. They just take the word of the guy who lives upstairs and his conjecture on what it might be. We've been though it all once last year, repeated pointless visits, me wiping and cleaning the ceiling with anti mould spray every other day. It was grim. They then cleaned it all and repainted with anti mould paint but they've obviously not fixed the root cause. The room is not even near a bathroom or kitchen and we keep the doors shut and windows open to them when we use them anyway. I'm just so mad that they were in and out so much last year and still have got nowhere with it, it can't be that hard to diagnose! I'm loathe to mention the render because they just grasp at anything and act on that little piece. I guess what I'm asking is, is there a service where people (who?!) come and actual figure out the problem with some kind of instrument or at least expertise on their side, rather than just a process of random elimination?

Dragongirl10 Thu 26-Nov-15 20:16:39

Hi op, my advice is get a dehumidifier, it will suck all the damp out of the air and give you and new baby healthier air to breathe

You can pick them up at any diy store and just run it in a corner of the room affected, 24 hours a day (they are very quiet)

amarmai Thu 26-Nov-15 21:08:22

When it rains i can see the flats across from me get water soaking into the bricks from a leaky gutter in an inset corner of the walls. When it's dry, i see the black mould that has grown in between the bricks and that has now extended down into the wall of the flat below the one under the roof. This sounds like what you are describing ,op. Maybe take some pics when it's raining and when it's dry as proof of what you are saying. Is there a Rent Review Board where you are? When i lived in Scotland I went to the RRB regarding the damp from a leaky gutter in the bedroom. They had the landlord reduce the rent until it was fixed. He said "I thought you were nice girls"!

specialsubject Thu 26-Nov-15 21:12:46

if you are in England you can now raise a complaint with environmental health without the fear of a retaliatory eviction. You may want to write to the landlord, setting out your concerns and what you think the problem is (as here). He will be paying the management fees and has every interest in not being ripped off, and in preserving the property.

or he should...

TheOddity Thu 26-Nov-15 21:26:44

Thanks for the advice guys.

I have bitten the bullet and bought a dehumidifier just to show willing and prove we are doing all we can as tenants. Shouldn't have to but at least it might improve our air quality when sat in the lounge feeding a newborn in Feb. But as people said if water is running down brick, a dehumidifier most likely won't touch the sides.

I am not in UK unfortunately but imagine similar laws apply so will ask LL for a formal meeting with the building staff to agree real next steps, not just what they feel like doing this time. First thing is definitely for someone to get up a ladder or scaffolding to have a proper look at the wall and gutter itself.

PigletJohn Sun 29-Nov-15 12:14:37

In your picture, which way is up?

What floor are you on?

TheOddity Sun 29-Nov-15 14:10:08

The picture is the right way up, I.e. The mould at the top is on the ceiling. The flat is first floor (I.e. Not ground floor) with two floors above us. The floor above, I think is a balcony over.

Bunbaker Sun 29-Nov-15 14:15:57

Leaky roof?

PigletJohn Sun 29-Nov-15 14:18:13

OK, so the mould is on the ceiling rather than on the wall.

If it is a balcony above, rather than the floor of a room, it might be either condensation if it is cold concrete above and not insulated, or it might be a leak, probably rainwater.

Tape a piece of clear plastic or clingfilm tightly to the ceiling covering the damp patch.

If water droplets form on the room side of the plastic, it is condensation.

If water forms on the upper surface, or if there are drips forming on the ceiling above the plastic, it is a leak.

A leak is likely to be the responsibility of the owner of the building, or possibly the upstairs tenant.

If it is condensation, then the design and build is perhaps bad (to have a cold uninsulated ceiling) but you need to reduce humidity in your flat.

TheOddity Sun 29-Nov-15 14:18:29

First picture is of mould in corner today.
Second picture of is mould all along that wall.
Third picture is the outside. The corner of the guttering correspends to the corner of that room. Do you think the cracks in the wall around the guttering could cause the mould PigletJohn or am I just totally reading too much into it?!

TheOddity Sun 29-Nov-15 14:21:51

Do you know, I'm actually thinking now that last year when it was at its worst, the shape of the mould did grow in approximately a rectangle that may correspond to the balcony above. Would it do that? I.e. Mould would only grow directly under where the water was condensing, leaving the rest of the ceiling mould free? If so I guess all we can do is use the dehumidifier because I don't think there is such a thing as balcony insulation!

TheOddity Sun 29-Nov-15 14:25:43

Just read the end bit of your post with the cling film trick. That is pure genius! Why on earth didn't I think of doing that?! Right, giving that a shot when DH is back (I don't do ladders)

SheSparkles Sun 29-Nov-15 14:32:06

You certainly do seem to be doing all the right things, can I ask though, you say the problem only occurs when you start to use your heating, do you still ventilate ie open vents or Windows during the day?
I'm asking because I have a battle with my dh over this every year-he wants to have the house hermetically sealed in the winter, as he "doesn't want to heat the outside", but I always open windows even if it's just for half an hour

TheOddity Sun 29-Nov-15 14:47:07

No I'm at home alone during day so give the whole house a good air for an hour in the morning while I clean. It's a very specific area honestly, and not near moisture from bathrooms and kitchens. Just this one part of the ceiling, although at its very worst, it crept along a parallel outside wall into a bedroom. I'm almost convinced it's a structural flaw of some kind but as PigletJohn said, that sadly doesn't rule out condensation. Looking for a new build apartment for next winter!

PigletJohn Sun 29-Nov-15 14:47:13

the concrete slab above appears to be cracking away, which is undesirable. Possibly it is spalling due to getting wet and then freezing. There may well be a problem with rainwater getting away.

If this is the case, your wet patch may be worse in rain and the thaw than in dry frosty weather.

TheOddity Sun 29-Nov-15 14:48:49

It is worse in rain and after it has snowed, that is certain. It is dry and cold here this week and the mould has not grown in the last week.

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