The Chateau strikes back….

So, once again I am learning more and more about the pros and cons (mostly cons) of Chateau D’Omnishambles…. This week it’s mould (mold?) and condensation…

Last winter this wasn’t something I noticed or cared about as last winter this house was a building site, with broken boiler, no radiators, plastering and construction going on and the doors and windows were open all winter while workmen trudged in and out etc. My previous house was a new build and extremely well-insultated so didn’t have this issue (that I was aware of).

This winter in the new house, we have discovered mould in all the windowsills, a result of the condensation running down the windows every morning since it turned cold.

I’ve bleached it, and scrubbed it, (with only minimal success – some of it simply won’t come off without peeling the window sealant off with it), and bought a dehumidifier (well, my mum bought me a dehumidifier for Christmas to be more precise). But as gas and electricity prices are soaring the cost of running a dehumidifier regularly is likely to be prohibitive (I’m already finding I’m having to run my heated airer practically 24/7 to get our clothes dry before the next load of laundry needs doing and it’s certainly adding to our usage bills a fair bit). Having run it for a day (and extracted 2-3 litres of moisture from the air upstairs!) it cost a significant amount (pushed my electricity bill from around £4 a day to over £6 a day). To think 18 months ago I used to pay around £1 a day for electricity….

For now we can use it maybe once or twice a week, or in short bursts after showers and baths to dry out the bathroom, but it’s not going to be a long-term solution (unless I can get solar panels installed to cut my electricity bills down!).

The research I’ve done online seems to indicate that there may be a need for a more systematic solution. Our rooms all have slits in the walls for ventilation purposes, but clearly they’re not doing very much to help reduce moisture in the air, and they create some pretty nasty draughts of cold air. There are options like window vents and PIV (Positive Input Ventilation System) – which I think gets installed in the ceiling/loft and runs a continuous flow of air through a filter like a low level extractor fan to reduce humidity. I think something like that might be a more sensible lasting solution to ventilating our little chateau. But I don’t yet know how much they cost. There is also the issue that several windows appear to be draughty or badly fitted – in spite of apparently all being newly-installed double-glazing (I suspect the previous owner, delightful handyman that he was, probably fitted and installed them himelf or something).

So we are looking into that and how much those options would cost (I also need a proper extraction fan to be fitted into the bathroom at some point to remove steam and moisture I suspect).

I’m also investigating the cost of external wall insulation on the alley at the side of my house after my brother-in-law pointed out that that wall was much colder to touch on the inside than the corresponding terraced wall on the other side. Being terraced certainly helps to retain some of the heat loss, but a bit of extra insulation on the exterior wall could help reduce my heating bills further. And as the temperature has dropped quite a bit this week, it would certainly help! Working from home today with the dehumidifier AND heated airer running all day I realised I just can’t put the heating on as well, so I have piled on my new mega-jumper/wearable blanket and fingerless gloves, as the internal house temperature is down to a brisk 16 degrees at the moment. Brrrrrrr!

Of course the chateau had more up it’s sleeve, so today I popped outside in between meetings to take photos of the house and the wall in order to get a quote for the insulation, and a gust of wind blew the new security gate shut – and blew the loose key hanging from the key ring into the gap between the door and the frame, wedging it shut!

I had my phone on me thankfully so had to send my apologies for missing the meeting as I was locked in a alley, and then started calling friends and neighbours to see if anyone could come over and get me out!

A kind friend sent her mother over and eventually I was liberated. Have deployed a strategic brick to wedge the door open in future to avert more disasters!

So to sum up, I need a solution for the mould, better insulation, solar panels to stop my bills from skyrocketing and probably a lottery win to cover all these costs…

In spite of all the setbacks I still believe the Chateau was a good investment – it’s given us so much more space to live in, and now that it’s mostly decorated it feels homey and comfy and cosy. It’s a total disaster of a house, but it’s OUR disaster, and I think with a bit of time and money we can make it work!

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