Stewart Hicks shares the horrors of mouldy student accommodation.

While studying at university I had two different residencies, both of which were semi-detached. The first property was a five-bedroom building, lacking much character but usefully close to public transport. The second was a large eight-bedroom nursing home conversion, with a little too much character – the previous tenants had left a collection of creepy old dolls in the attic space for us to find one daring evening.

However, both properties had their own horror story – and I’m not just talking about the dolls.

House One had particularly bad mould in the bathroom. The fan seemed to be making a lot of noise and not doing much else, and the result was a creeping blackness that spread across the ceiling and onto the outside wall at an alarming rate. No amount of window opening did the trick, and after numerous attempts to contact the landlord we had to resort to trying to clean it ourselves. This was, of course, a potential lawsuit waiting to happen, and a similar occurrence in House Two was even worse.

In this case, the mould grew on the outside wall of my bedroom behind my television. Again, my attempts to prevent this were in vain. I turned the heating up, opened my window and even bought a dehumidifier. It was an expensive failure, and left me rather perplexed about the cause of the mould.

Having done research, it is now rather obvious: bad condensation is a result of poor ventilation and airflow around a house. It is all too easy to think that simply making the house warm with cavity wall insulation and double glazing is enough. Both the properties above had these features and still suffered, and both properties lacked proper ventilation.

We can’t see air, but we need it, especially indoors with moisture, humidity – and cooking smells! A properly working bathroom or kitchen fan would have contributed to better extraction and air change throughout the houses, and perhaps would have been a more proactive solution to eliminating condensation and mould growth in the first place.


Written by Stewart Hicks, on behalf of Greenwood Airvac.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock/HandmadePictures