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Trade body highlights ‘watershock’ issue affecting new-builds

A national trade body is seeing a rise in the number of condensation issues reported in new-build homes and is warning that not enough attention is being paid to ventilation.

The Property Care Association (PCA) has warned that cases of condensation and wet water streaming down from the roof space, described as a ‘watershock,’ are on the increase at this time of the year.

The issue has been particularly noticeable in recent years among new homeowners who move into their properties over the Christmas break and then struggle to manage problems with condensation months later, the PCA said.


Stephen Hodgson, chief executive of the PCA, said a new generation of homes are being built to improved standards in terms of airtightness to aid energy efficiency.

But this means all the moisture generated from cooking, bathing and laundry is removed through the property’s ventilation system.

He said: “Quite often, new homes are finished to a tight deadline, without time for the water that is part of the construction process to dry out.

“This means the property is already carrying excess moisture, and when people move in, that water load increases.

“The ventilation system, already under considerable strain, has to process the excess moisture tied-up in the building’s fabric but then, with few windows open in winter and baths, showers and tumble dryers all running, the home becomes even more loaded and this is when we see ‘watershock.’

“This involves water flowing down walls and windows, as the ventilation system struggles to operate effectively.

“Although it’s distressing and can look dramatic, our message is not to panic. With some simple changes and after a few months of warmth in the summer, the problem will generally resolve itself.”

Hodgson said the efficiency of the ventilation systems in place on recently completed new-builds should be checked.

The PCA conducted a poll during a recent webinar on ventilation and more than 72% of the delegates believed fewer than 30% of installations in new-builds complied with Building Regulations.

Hodgson said: “Approved Document F, which covers ventilation in the home, does not get the attention it deserves and is not enforced to the same extent as other areas of the Building Regulations.

“This needs addressing and the effects of failing to provide adequate ventilation should be taken much more seriously, as the physical and mental impact homeowners face living in a damp, humid home are significant.”


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