There are many reasons that a home can be damp, but achieving a warm, dry house is particularly challenging in New Zealand.
About eight litres of moisture is produced inside the average family home each day, says Phil Harrison of Harrisons Home Energy Solutions. “This is fed by hot showers and boiling pots on the stove, leaks in wall and roof claddings, and seepage or underfloor dampness, and it has a negative impact on indoor air quality.”
Over time moisture builds up, and not only can inadequate home ventilation make underlying respiratory illnesses worse, especially for children and the elderly, damp homes can contribute to the growth of toxic fungi such as stachybotrys mould, which causes flu like symptoms in susceptible people.
“Achieving a high level of air quality is one of the best things you can do for your family, but in New Zealand it's particularly challenging,” says Phil. “Because we have a subtropical climate, our buildings are not as solidly built, or equipped with central heating and air conditioning, like those in countries with more extreme conditions. Additionally, we have less variation between seasons, so we are less likely to invest in systems that may only be useful for a small part of the year.”
Phil says he has noticed that visitors to New Zealand often comment on how cold and damp our houses are.
“Insulation and an energy efficient heating system are essential, as is good building maintenance, to keep leaks out,” says Phil. “After that, you need to consider how you will ventilate your home.”
He says that for those on a budget, or wanting to make a quick improvement, extractor fans are a targeted and relatively cheap solution ideal for the kitchen and bathroom, and are already installed in many newer homes. An extractor fan, which must be ducted to the outside of the house to work correctly, will suck out steamy air and help to prevent condensation in the kitchen or bathroom.
A heat pump, if suitable for your home, will operate in the background, and circulates air as it heats or cools. However, a sensor controlled home ventilation system is the most sophisticated and effective solution, and uses a system of fans and vents to move air from the warm dry areas under the roof, into the living spaces. Sensors control the system, turning it on and off, and directing air where needed, to manage the air quality inside the whole house.
“If you are renting, or installing a house ventilation system is out of your budget, keeping windows open, even if just for a short period of time each day, is something we recommend to keep dampness at bay,” says Phil Harrison.
Harrisons Home Energy Solutions is a Kiwi owned family business that has been in operation since 1962. Harrisons consultants are fully mobile, and the company offers a 10-year installation guarantee and lifetime product warranty on Enviroblanket insulation, as well as a Best Price Guarantee.