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Moisture and dirt

Moisture and dirt can cause premature deterioration of fixtures and fittings. Moisture also causes mould - and that's a health hazard.

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Mould and other signs of dampness

Mildew, mould, water stains, bubbling floor vinyl, buckled hardboard, sagging ceilings, lifting wallpaper, steamy mirrors that don’t clear or rotten window frames are all symptoms of prolonged dampness.

Mould is a health hazard that can lead to increased illness in your household. If left unchecked, moisture can cause damage to linings and finishes in the home.

Address the cause of the dampness with improved ventilation, heating and insulation. Consider installing an air extraction system or extractor fans in the kitchen, laundry or bathroom. These are required by the Building Code to be ducted outside the house not within the roofspace or under the floor.

Also consider installing heating in these rooms. Warm air holds more moisture making air extraction more efficient. See our article on reducing moisture in the home.

If these problems seem serious, you may have a leaky home. See the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's Building Performance website for more information.

Laundries are often a dumping ground and have a tendency to become storage areas.

To improve laundry safety:

  • Use a laundry hamper.
  • Don’t allow the laundry to be used as a play area.
  • Hang up ironing boards and brooms.
  • Mop up spills immediately.
  • Add a non-slip treatment to slippery floors.

Bathrooms and toilets are wet areas making them high risk for slips, trips and falls. They are often poorly planned or cramped meaning there is little space to avoid vanities and toilet bowls on the way down if you fall. Layouts often incorporate single steps or thresholds to a bath or shower.

Some ways to reduce the risk of falls in the bathroom:

  • Use a non-slip bath mat on the floor, and in the bath or shower.
  • Replace smooth vinyl with embossed or non-slip material.
  • Mop up spills or splashes immediately.
  • Add a non-slip surface treatment to the floor, shower or bath.
  • Fit grab rails.
  • Keep floor surfaces clean.
  • Ensure glazed screens are secured and fitted with safety glass.
  • Cover slippery floors with a secured mat or apply a non-slip treatment or new floor finish to the floor.

Floor finishes that give adequate slip resistance when wet include:

  • Glazed and profiled ceramic tiles.
  • Ribbed or studded vinyl sheet or tiles.
  • Split slate.
  • Honed marble.

Those which can be slippery when wet are:

  • Polished stone.
  • Glazed ceramic tiles.
  • Smooth vinyl sheet.
  • Gloss finished cork tiles.

Dirt and grease around exhaust fans

This will reduce the effectiveness of the fan and could lead to fires. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and always switch off the electricity before cleaning around the fan.

Water splash

Continuous water splash prevents surfaces drying out properly. This can damage cabinetry, paintwork, linings and possibly framing. It can also lead to mould and mildew.

Remove mould and mildew with a 1:4 bleach/water solution. Put non-porous or semi-gloss finishes around sinks, showers etc. Use enamel or high-gloss paints on walls and ceilings in wet areas such as the bathroom or kitchen. Consider lowering the water pressure with flow restrictors or low-flow fittings to reduce water splash.

Condensation build-up

Moisture encourages mould that can have health implications and increase asthma. Moist air also takes more energy and time to heat.

If possible, close the bathroom or kitchen door and open a window when in use and for a time after use. Use an extractor fan which vents to the outside. See our article on moisture in the home for more suggestions on how to reduce condensation.

Mildew on the shower curtain

This is either because there’s not enough ventilation in the bathroom or that the curtain is not getting a chance to dry out.

Treat the cause of the high levels of moisture and remove the mildew with a household cleaner or 1:4 bleach/water solution. Opening up the curtain after use will help it to dry out.

Wet floors

If your bathroom floor repeatedly gets wet or stays wet, consider adding an anti-slip product to tiles to reduce the danger of slipping. You can also use non-slip flooring or a non-slip mat.

Every 3 minutes someone falls over in their home and injures themselves seriously enough to make an ACC claim. In 2004/05, ACC paid out around $66 million to people who had injured themselves after slipping and falling on a hard surface.

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