Property Issues

Dampness and Condensation

Dampness can cause mould on walls and furniture and make window frames rot.  Damp cold housing encourages the growth of mould and mites, as mites feed on moulds and can increase the risk of respiratory illnesses in some people.  Some damp is caused by condensation.

You can reduce condensation and dampness in your home by:

Producing less moisture

  • Cover pans to lessen the amount of moisture in the air
  • Dry clothes outdoors if you can, or indoors with a window open
  • Vent your tumble dryer to the outside
  • Avoid using paraffin or flue-less bottled gas heaters, they put a lot of moisture in the air

Ventilating to remove moisture

  • Ventilate all the time, especially when someone is in the property
  • Increase ventilation of the kitchen and bathroom when in use and shut the door
  • Ventilate cupboards, wardrobes and blocked chimneys

Insulating and draughtproof to keep your home warm and reduce bills

  • Insulate the loft
  • Draughtproof windows and external doors
  • Consider cavity insulation
  • Consider secondary glazing
  • Find out if you are eligible for a grant or other help (see below)

Heating your home a little more

  • If possible, keep low background heat on all day, with background ventilation too
  • Find out about benefits, rebates and help with fuel bills. 

You can find further advice regarding damp, mould and condensation in the Scottish Government leaflet Keep your home free from damp and mould (») (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).

Further information is available from The Energy Advisory Service (TEAS) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) who can provide impartial energy efficiency advice to householders.  

Dampness may also be due to disrepair of the property.

If you are a tenant you should report any problem of damp to your housing association or landlord.  If you are a private tenant and your landlord has failed to deal with issues of disrepair the Housing and Property Chamber (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) may be able to assist.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil, wood and gas.  Incorrectly installed, poorly maintained or poorly ventilated cooking and heating devices are often the main sources.

CO poisoning can kill quickly without warning.  It can also resemble food poisoning, viral infection, flu or simple tiredness, with symptoms including headaches, tiredness, feeling sick and difficulty thinking clearly.  If you suffer from these symptoms, and they could be caused by CO exposure, stop using ALL your cooking and heating appliances and seek urgent medical attention.  Call a suitably qualified engineer to check your appliances.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Have all cooking and heating appliances installed and serviced regularly by trained, reputable, registered engineers
  • DO NOT use poorly maintained appliances and make sure chimneys and flues are clean and not blocked
  • Make sure that rooms are well ventilated when an appliance is being used
  • Fit a carbon monoxide alarm that meets European Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European mark, such as a kite mark

Maintaining Solid Fuel Appliances

The maintenance of solid fuel appliances is very important to ensure safe and efficient operation.
The following guidelines are recommended but it is important to follow any instructions from your appliance manufacturer:

  • Ensure that your chimney is swept from top to bottom at least once a year
  • Air is vital – make sure you have enough ventilation to keep your fire burning properly
  • Flueways at the back of any boiler should be cleaned at least once a month
  • Throat plates at the top of any room heater should be removed and cleaned regularly
  • Check and empty the ashcan regularly and at least once every day. Do not let the ashcan overflow with ash

You should take immediate action if you smell or suspect fumes – open windows and doors immediately and let the fire go out.  Do not relight the fire until you have had your chimney and appliance flueways checked by a qualified engineer.

More information can be found on the HETAS (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) or Gas Safe Register (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) websites.

Domestic Oil Spills

Due to the limited mains gas supply in the area, many houses throughout the Outer Hebrides are heated by oil such as kerosene.  However, a damaged domestic oil storage tank can cause significant damage to your home – and your wallet.

Oil tanks can leak for a variety of reasons, the most common being:

  • Failures of the tank body
  • Damage to equipment on the tank such as sight gauges
  • Damage to or wear-and-tear failures of fuel feed lines
  • Failure of components at the boiler end of the system, e.g. flexible hoses.

Metal tanks can rust through, often at their bases, whereas plastic tanks can split due to inherent defects or age/wear-and-tear, and spills can occur when oil is delivered.

SEPA have produced a Guidance Document For Householders On How To Deal With Domestic Spills (394.1kB)

Remember to check your home insurance policy to ensure your property is covered against oil spills.

Please Contact Us for further advice and information on any of these topics.