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Pigletjohn? External insulation - will it solve the problem?

(16 Posts)
schilke Mon 18-Nov-13 10:12:04

Pigletjohn, I am hoping you can help....and anyone else!

We rent out a flat and have done for 14 years. We lived in it for 6 years before that. It used to be the laundry room for a block of flats so is fairly unique - has a walkway underneath and nothing above, so there are a lot of exposed walls. It is the corner joint for 2 blocks. It has always been a little damp due to condensation. When we lived there we managed it well. tenants over the years have done ok too - heating & ventilation.

Our current tenant has been there just over a year and things are not going well. She is lovely, but has loads of stuff piled against walls and now there is a major problem with damp walls and condensation. There is mould growing in various places. The main culprit is the long exposed wall - living room and bedroom. There is no insulation - concrete floors and thin walls. If we get the property externally insulated will this solve the problem? I'm not sure the council will let us do this, but is preferable to internally insulating due to the chaos this would cause the tenant and her daughter.

She also hangs a lot of wet washing around which doesn't help. There is a dehumidifier in the property, which she bought. The one we bought had died and she got another one without mentioning it to us. We want to buy a better one - dessicant or compressor? Any recommendations?

Thank you.

schilke Mon 18-Nov-13 10:17:36

Just to add we have extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom. I know she likes to take deep steamy baths.....had a leak in the bathroom last year and she told us!

PigletJohn Mon 18-Nov-13 10:47:35

Wet washing is the problem.

The exteactors might not be turned on enough/at all.

You will need planning permission to clad the outside.

It would be cheaper to pay her £5,ooo to move, or to buy a tumble drier and pay for the electricity.

People who drape wet washing and don't ventilate won't change and you can't help them. Their homes will always be wet.

Dessicants have so little capacity they are practically useless.

schilke Mon 18-Nov-13 10:54:25

Thank you. We have contacted the council to ask, but I have a feeling they won't let us. She tells us she is opening windows, but I'm not sure she is as it has never been this bad before.

We have offered to buy a tumble drier, but she doesn't want to pay for the electricity to run it - I do understand money is tight - so perhaps we should offer her money to run it.

Would the external insulation do any good? Is internal better?

chemenger Mon 18-Nov-13 11:04:46

Electric desiccant dehumidifiers (i.e. not the pots of silica gel that you can buy) are fine, they use an adsorbent that cycles continuously through adsorbing water vapour and discharging liquid water, instead of using a refrigerant cycle to condense the vapour. You need to empty them, just like the compressor ones. They also give out heat, when I'm using mine to dry washing it makes the room toasty at the same time. My impression is that the desiccant cycle dehumidifier are more common than compressor ones now.

specialsubject Mon 18-Nov-13 11:33:49

your tenant is slowly destroying the house and needs to change her ways. If you don't want to give her notice, I agree that it will be less costly to buy her a tumble drier and contribute to the bill.

is there any outside space at all? Would she use it for drying? Can she be persuaded to have less stuff preventing air circulation?

schilke Mon 18-Nov-13 11:36:49

Yes, I meant the electric desiccant ones. We were going to get an Ebac 2650e, but then I read that electric desiccant ones could be better in household situations.

I have told her we will get a tumble dryer. I have a heatpump one at home and I will get one for her - 1.87kw per cycle, so pretty cheap to run.

schilke Mon 18-Nov-13 11:42:41

There is a flight of steps up to the flat - they only go to our flat so there is a little bit of space. She won't hang washing out there because she thinks it will get stolen.

The problem is she had a hard time in her last place and we want her to be happy, but she is difficult to talk to - very defensive. I think she is worried about being blamed for things. My dh is going up on Wednesday, so will have a proper look.

Her email sounded catastrophic, but hopefully she is being dramatic! I dreamt about think green swirly seaweed on walls last night!!

wonkylegs Mon 18-Nov-13 11:42:55

External insulation on a residence that is only part of a block is much harder to do due to the joints where it meets the other properties.
If your tenant is destroying the property through poor habits it might even make it worse as it will make the flat more air tight.
Think about wrapping wet washing in an airtight bag - the water just collects inside.
The best long term and sustainable solution is I'm afraid to get a different tenant.
Sort out adequate ventilation and think about internal insulation(lined Walls) within particularly cold rooms.

schilke Mon 18-Nov-13 11:51:28

Ok. Thank you pigletjohn and everyone else. I really don't want to get rid of her. She is very happy there apart from this problem. We have a council chap coming round to examine the property.

schilke Mon 18-Nov-13 14:00:56

Oh it sounds horrific. Carpet is wet in places apparently and the paint on the outside wall is bubbling. Never had problems outside the flat before. She thinks water is coming in somehow.

PigletJohn Mon 18-Nov-13 14:24:02

tape a piece of clear plastic tightly to the wall, after wiping it dry.

Observe if water forms on the wall side or the room side.

schilke Mon 18-Nov-13 15:09:20

To the wall on the inside or outside of the flat? Sorry if I'm being dippy blush

PigletJohn Mon 18-Nov-13 16:45:52


Liara Mon 18-Nov-13 20:31:45

I know these are not that common in the UK, but in France where I live all new houses by law have ventilations systems that run in permanence. You can get ones that use the heat extracted from the air that is going out to heat the air that is coming in, so that you don't lose to much heat that way. They are specifically put in to deal with damp, as new houses here are usually quite well insulated but not breathable, so moisture accumulates.

It may be a worthwhile investment to put in something like this?

specialsubject Mon 18-Nov-13 22:25:42

I like deep steamy baths. I do have outside space and dry washing there on non-wet days (tomorrow's forecast looks good). If I didn't I would have to have a tumble drier. No damp or mould here. Oh, and I also spend five minutes wiping windows each morning.

see if you can get her to understand basic physics.

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