In a bid to improve the condition and efficiency of housing stock, social housing refurbishment projects are on the rise. This brings many benefits, such as cutting energy bills for tenants, but as properties become increasingly airtight as a result, more homes are being blighted by condensation, mould and poor IAQ, and the associated health and maintenance problems they bring. An estimated 50% of buildings in the UK suffer from condensation and the damage it causes to the health of tenants and the fabric of homes is a big issue for social housing providers.
Improving ventilation therefore offers a simple solution to condensation for social housing landlords. And when it comes to ventilation, social housing has a very specific set of needs. It is therefore important to select fans that have been designed especially for the sector. At Vent-Axia, we understand landlords’ concerns and design products to help ensure tenants and landlords alike are happy.
Social housing is under increasing pressure with tightening budgets. A recent survey revealed that 100 of the UK’s largest housing associations spent a whopping £2.5b on repairs and maintenance in 2014/15. High levels of condensation can damage the fabric of a property resulting in increasing maintenance and repair costs. Surface condensation results in mould, meaning landlords will need to pay for redecorating. But more serious than this, condensation can occur within the fabric of a building. This presents a greater hazard because it can often go undetected for long periods until serious structural damage has developed.
So with figures like that, it’s crucial to avoid damaging condensation by installing ventilation that offers simple specification, low maintenance and reliability. The new Lo-Carbon Revive from Vent-Axia has been designed to provide exactly that. It is versatile, with a choice of speeds for multiple installation options and can be ducted or through the wall, meaning it suits any room. Plus, Revive is low maintenance since its market-leading Multi-Vortex technology does not require a filter, while the highly-sculpted interior actively repels dust, avoiding clogging, thus helping to avoid call backs. Revive also boasts reliability backed by up to seven years’ warranty.
Quick and simple installation is key to keeping landlords, installers and tenants happy. Installers need to be able to fit multiple fans on multiple sites as quickly and easily as possible. The latest fans have a simple alpha numeric LED display which is clear and easy to read and a menu for commissioning and data gathering. Some fans even tell the LED display which orientation to use depending on whether it is wall or ceiling mounted. All of which saves time, and so cost, on site and reduces installation complications. Tenants will also appreciate not being disturbed for very long during installation. Revive’s Smart Sense intelligent technology offers all these features.
Mould can have adverse effects on tenants’ health, and the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 puts the onus on landlords to ensure their properties are designed and maintained to prevent condensation and mould. Social housing landlords therefore have a duty of care to their tenants to provide good IAQ.
The Royal College of Physicians’ report “Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution” starkly sets out the dangerous impact of air pollution, with around 40,000 people dying in the UK every year due to air pollution. Exposure to indoor air pollutants, such as radon and second-hand smoke, further add to these figures and with health problems, such as cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity and dementia all linked to poor air quality, it is clear that this needs to be urgently addressed in every household.
Good ventilation helps to combat the problem of condensation and mould, but fans can only do this if tenants run them as intended by their design. Traditional old intermittent fans have tended to be noisy which not only disturb tenants, but make them aware the fan is running. This can potentially cause tenants to tamper with the fan to turn it off, causing condensation and mould to appear and resulting in poor IAQ. Landlords should look for fans that have been designed to be powerful enough to remove moist air to ensure good IAQ, but at the same time, quiet enough not to disturb, while remaining energy-efficient, like the Revive.
Fans like the Revive can even provide real-time data via an intuitive interface to communicate the fan’s energy efficiency so landlords can reassure tenants of the low-running costs. In addition, they can record when high humidity levels have triggered the boost speed, meaning the landlord can build up a humidity profile of the individual property, helping to identify those properties that suffer from abnormally high humidity levels. Meanwhile, nuisance tripping is another reason tenants avoid using fans, so an ambient response humidistat is a useful feature to avoid this, thus increasing tenant acceptability.
However, despite the latest fans offering energy-efficient, quiet comfort, some tenants may still have concerns. Fans, like the Revive, include a Day Logger which allows landlords to track how many days a fan has been running, to ensure it is used as intended, thus building a profile of tenant activity and aiding landlords in investigating humidity problems. Recording and monitoring this information is a significant step towards combatting condensation and mould in social housing properties.
Today, modern continuous ventilation offers a clear route to a good indoor environment for tenants, with lower humidity levels, and lower maintenance costs. By installing these latest products, local authorities and housing associations avoid condensation damage to their housing stock and will ensure that their tenants can avoid the health risks associated with poor IAQ.