Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

Wardrobes and mildew

(29 Posts)
Tippy22 Sun 06-Aug-17 17:39:34

We moved to our present home about 18 months ago and one of the attractions was the beautiful fitted wardrobes. However having a sort out today my husband noticed that all his leather shoes and a leather briefcase that were in one wardrobe were covered in mildew. His canvas shoes and trainers in the same wardrobe were fine. Is this a problem with damp and if so any ideas on how to tackle it. The property is well ventilated and we don't seem to have a problem generally with damp anywhere else.

suzied Sun 06-Aug-17 18:08:16

Is there an outside wall behind the wardrobe? Could be moisture penetrating through.

mumofmadboys Sun 06-Aug-17 18:38:42

It may help if there are just two of you at home to leave your bedroom door open at night for moisture to escape. We find with a shut door our windows get lots of condensation and with the door open there is none. We breathe out a lot of moist air over a whole night!

Jalima1108 Sun 06-Aug-17 19:10:24

Do you have cavity wall insulation? It can be a cause of damp and if there is no ventilation in the fitted wardrobes that could be the problem.

bikergran Sun 06-Aug-17 19:19:37

I had cavity wall insulation 2 yrs is 17 yrs old so pretty new, but as its a cold house I took the free instalation {little grey balls pf polystyrene) worse thing ever! and now I have mildew on white pvc frames inside the house even though I leave the vents on the windows open!
If I could have it removed I would do! but they bored into the cream rendering and made holes, then the holes had to be filled and touche dup with the stone paint..I really cant say its made the house any warmer and wold not suggest having it done.

Tippy22 Sun 06-Aug-17 19:37:54

Thanks for your responses. One of the side walls is an outside wall but all the rest are internal. We've cleared out the wardrobe and there doesn't appear to be any damp on the walls. I don't understand why it was just the leather shoes and bag that have been affected, none of the other shoes or clothes have been affected. I'll leave the bedroom door open and see if that makes a difference, thanks for that suggestion. Don't know if there is any cavity insulation will have to investigate.

Swanny Sun 06-Aug-17 19:46:50

Might sound silly/obvious but were the leather shoes and briefcase damp when they were put in the wardrobe?

Jalima1108 Sun 06-Aug-17 20:12:29

bikergran a man who was replacing windows said that cavity wall insulation is one of the worst things that has been done - that in a few years' time we will all be having problems with the structure of our homes!

Of coruse, it was offered free in some areas, the green initiative?

I think that leather could absorb a lot of moisture from the atmosphere as it is a natural material and, if it is put somewhere where there is no air circulation, could develop mould. Shoes do need airing, that's why it is best not to wear the same pair every day.

harrigran Sun 06-Aug-17 20:34:02

There are nine houses in our street and we are the only one that refused the cavity wall insulation, we have been hearing some horror stories from the neighbours. The insulation acts like a wick and draws the water through the wall. When this was mentioned on FB I was called a liar by an installer who said that it doesn't happen, I beg to differ.

Jalima1108 Sun 06-Aug-17 20:35:10

Ours seems fine but we don't have those polystyrene balls.

petra Sun 06-Aug-17 21:30:28

It wouldn't hurt to put some air vents in the wardrobe doors. We had to do that in one property.
Also, check the air vents on that outside wall, it's surprising how much rubbish can collect in there.

Marydoll Mon 07-Aug-17 00:00:47

My son, a chartered surveyor, advised us not to get cavity wall insulation, when it was being offered. He said that the cavity is there for a reason and not to consider it.

suzied Mon 07-Aug-17 06:36:08

Those little silica gel sachets you get when you buy bags etc are useful to put in drawers and wardrobes to avoid mildew. But check that outside wall, are there any cracks? Does it need repointing? We had damp coming through a point where the telephone engineers had fixed a cable incorrectly on an outside wall. Have you got a damp meter? You can get one quite cheaply and you can identify places where there is damp. You might not be able to see it.

Welshwife Mon 07-Aug-17 07:28:49

Last house in UK had tall (just below ceiling height) wardrobes on an interior back wall and one side a few inches from an outside wall. That also meant there was a small gap between the back of the wayward robe and the wall. One day I noticed in the wardrobe nearest to the outside wall that bit of a musty smell you get in shut up houses. My solution was to not have clothes against the side of the cupboard and anytime we went away I left the doors of the wardrobe open.
The house had been damp when we bought it as empty for a bit but we had sorted that out and it was kept warm and well ventilated which it had not been with the previous owners. In our case it took a year or so of living in it to thoroughly get it dry and we came to the conclusion that it was bad ventilation which caused the damp inside.
I agree about the cavity wall insulation - a bad thing.

silverlining48 Mon 07-Aug-17 08:11:26

Many years ago when renting our first flat the metal zips in my husbands trousers all turned green in his wardrobe, damp being the cause. That was when i learned the importance of ventilation.

Greyduster Mon 07-Aug-17 08:32:13

Friends of ours had this problem with built in wardrobes in their last house (no cavity insulation) on an outside wall which didn't get much sun. They took them out and bought free standing wardrobes set away from the wall and had no further problems.

grannysyb Mon 07-Aug-17 08:54:55

We have built-in wardrobes on external walls, but the carpenter put an internal wall in and we've never had a problem

devongirl Mon 07-Aug-17 09:51:15

I used to rent a flat with a wardrobe like that, we had an electric de-humidifier which I ran from time to time, which helped.

LadyGracie Mon 07-Aug-17 12:52:59

We used to have to leave the fitted wardrobe doors open and a freestanding wardrobe had to be moved away from the wall as the wall behind was black with mould. We sold up and moved out after only a year, mould was playing havoc with DH's asthma

Tegan2 Mon 07-Aug-17 13:24:07

I found mould in all of my wooden furniture a couple of years ago; it was a nightmare to get rid of. I'd been drying clothes in the living room without having a dehumidifier on all the time; I'd had the carpet cleaned a year or so before that and I wonder if it hadn't dried out properly. I asked a decorator friend of mine to look at it. There a shed next to the house that my ex built to house my sons bikes and I had been leaning things against the wall; he said it had stopped the flow of air and we moved everything away from it. After treating all of the furniture [and moving the worst affected on; an old pine dresser, slightly away from the wall], the problem seems to have gone. But I spend a whole summer treating furniture; thankfully the weather was good at the time. I have had a bit of mildew on clothes in my fitted wardrobe, but it was only clothes that had touched the outside wall. I now tend to have the dehumidifier on at least once a day, even when it's warm.

Tegan2 Mon 07-Aug-17 13:31:15

Just another thought; do you gutter need clearing? Mine are always full of pine needles and that causes problems.

Tizliz Mon 07-Aug-17 14:33:53

I always leave one of the wardrobe doors open a little. Though only had a problem with the one against the north wall when it was very wet.

Esspee Mon 07-Aug-17 14:51:41

Moisture in a room condenses on the coldest part of the surfaces in the room. It could be an outside wall, corners, the windows or the window frames. You need to reduce the moisture by ventilation and insulating the coldest areas where these are in an awkward place e.g. Inside a fitted wardrobe. The remaining moisture will have to condense somewhere but windows are easy to deal with. Try to reduce moisture with extractor fans in bathroom and kitchen, airing the place and maintaining a temperature of around 19C minimum. If problem persists you may need a dehumidifier.

Tegan2 Mon 07-Aug-17 15:24:54

You know, That's so obvious Esspee, but it had never occurred to me before. So, the moisture in my living room would have condensed at the back of the furniture that was resting against the coldest wall in the room which had also [because of me resting things against the outside wall] been deprived of any air circulation etc. And me, deciding to put my clothes airer in the living room rather than the hall [where it usually lives], would have caused it to happen.

Jalima1108 Mon 07-Aug-17 22:45:42

I put my clothes airer on the landing because the warm air rises just there and they dry fairly quickly. I also tend to leave bedroom doors open so there is plenty of air circulating.
When they did the cavity wall insulation they put an airvent through to the outside wall even though we have an open chimney.

Checking the gutters is a very good idea, it's surprising how quickly they can get full