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Avoiding mould in your house

Buildings in Germany are designed to keep heat inside. The windows and doors seal tightly and it can therefore be a challenge to ensure proper ventilation.

A lack of ventilation encourages the growth of mould or mildew. Mould will grow in damp places and thrives particularly well on cold, damp surfaces. Once mould occurs, it is not enough to simply remove the stains. The cause of the mould must also be identified and eliminated. 

Some of the health issues caused by mould are a stuffy nose, wheezing, red or itchy eyes, skin allergies or asthma.

Guidelines

  • Keep humidity levels in your home under 50%
  • Fix any water leaks in the walls, roof and plumbing
  • Air your home regularly 

How to air your home

The Germans call the regular airing of your home “Stoßlüften” and it is advised that you do it throughout the whole year. The idea behind this is to exchange hot damp air with cold dryer air.

  1. Open all the windows in your house fully (kipping doesn’t help) 
  2. Turn down the heating if it is on
  3. Leave the windows open for the recommended time, see below
  4. Close all windows again
  5. Turn the heating back on

Air your home at least 4 times a day for the recommended minimum time.

  • December – January: 5 minutes. Do not ventilate for longer than 5 minutes as too much heating will be lost. There is also a risk that the window sill or window frame will cool down too much and mould will grow.
  • March and November: 10 minutes
  • April and September: 15 minutes
  • May and October: 20 minutes
  • June – August: 30 minutes

Kippt vs open

Tips

  • To create an effective draft, make sure opposite windows are open.
  • The higher the outside temperature, the longer you have to ventilate your home.
  • A family of four can release up to 12 litres of moisture a day. Ventilate more often when you are home or when more people are present.
  • Use hygrometers in all the rooms.
  • Dehumidifiers can help prevent the growth of mould and mildew
  • Air your kitchen after cooking. Consider installing extraction fans.
  • Air your bathroom after showering. Consider installing extraction fans.
  • Air your bedroom after getting up. 
  • Keep the temperature in your home at least above 15 degrees Celcius 
  • Clean your damp surfaces with anti-mould products, for example, in the bathrooms.
  • When you use a tumble dryer, buy one with a condenser.
  •  Try not to place big furniture, like cupboards, up against any walls that are exposed to the outside.
  • Your landlord can specify ventilation requirements in your rental contract. Be sure to comply with them.
  • According to the Umwelbundesamtes, a superficial mould infestation measuring less than half a square meter can be removed by a non-professional, as long as the person does not have an allergy to mould spores.
  • Mouldy wallpaper should be removed and disposed of.
  • Textiles that are affected by mould should be washed; if the mould stains or smell cannot be removed, they should be disposed of.

Info on the web

Legal issues

If you have discovered mould in your rented home, you should contact your landlord.
Please read more on Stiftung Warentest

Reduced rent
If the landlord is responsible for the mould, the tenant might have the right to a reduction in rent. Please read more here 

Vocabulary

GermanEnglishInfo
StoßlüftenIntense ventilation
SchimmelMould, mildewA type of fungi that grows in damp and poorly ventilated areas. IT reproduces by making spores
KipptiltedIf you only kipp your windows, it can aggravate the problem, as it will cause condensation around the window

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