Just as you need time to settle into your new home, the property also needs time to settle into its new surroundings.
In the first few months, it’s especially important that your home is allowed to ‘settle’ - this includes letting your home dry out gently.
During this period, you may notice minor cracks in walls, gaps in joinery and white deposits on the walls - all are completely normal in new homes, and may occur regardless of the measures you take.
However, following the guidelines below should help to minimise the occurrence of these issues.
Small cracks in the walls and gaps in joinery are both common signs of shrinkage. This happens when timbers and other materials contract as they dry out.
It’s extremely unlikely that these cracks are anything structurally significant, and they can normally be put right very easily with ordinary filler and a simple lick of paint during routine redecoration.
Shrinkage cracks and nail pops are generally not considered defects unless they are wider than the width of a £1 coin or there is a significant amount of nails pops in one room.
To keep cracks and gaps to a minimum, you need to allow all the materials used in constructing your home to dry out gradually.
Shrinkage is accelerated by heat, so you need to keep your home at a steady temperature rather than spikes of cold or hot. We recommend setting the temperature at 20 degrees.
Leaving your windows open (or at least the vents within their frames) will help to ventilate your home and allow moisture to evaporate more naturally.
The length of time your house takes to dry out depends on its method of construction, weather conditions when it was built and the time of year you moved in. Generally speaking, it will take around nine months to a year.
The appearance of a white deposit on brick or stone work (known as ‘efflorescence’) can also be another effect of the drying-out process.
These white deposits are actually natural salts that come out of the building materials, and are quite normal. These salts are not harmful and usually disappear over time and where they appear on internal walls, they can be brushed or wiped away.
Condensation is caused by steam or water vapour coming into contact with cold surfaces, such as walls, ceilings and windows. Condensation can be the result of evaporation of moisture from building materials, which is quite common in new homes. New homes are built to high air tightness standards which is good for energy efficiency as heat isn’t able to escape easily and prevents the cold coming in, however this also makes it difficult for moisture to escape naturally.
If allowed to persist, condensation can result in the appearance of mould on interior surfaces and even on furnishings.
Don’t let condensation mould become a problem - prevention is the easiest way!
Condensation will gradually reduce as the building dries out.
There are a number of things you can do and should avoid doing – even after the building itself has finished drying out:
- Open windows to allow trapped moisture to escape.
- Most windows may have trickle vents and these should be left open at all times.
- Cover pans when cooking to reduce steam and use the extractor fans.
- If a Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) system or a Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) system has been installed in your home, make sure that you familiarise yourself with the operating manual and manufacturer’s guidance. It is important to understand how these systems operate to run your home effectively.
- Your bathroom and kitchen may be fitted with an extractor fan which should be left on trickle mode at all times and on boost mode when cooking, clothes washing, bathing and showering.
- Avoid drying clothes indoors, especially on radiators. Radiator airers can be purchased from your local hardware store.
- If you have one, make sure your tumble dryer’s venting duct leads outside (unless it is a self-condensing dryer).
- Heat your home evenly and consistently.