Keeping your home healthy

A healthy home is a warm and dry home. This can be particularly challenging in winter with often cold and wet weather.

Forty percent of New Zealand homes are damp and mouldy. Having a warm and dry home is essential for good health.

There are a number of organisations that can help you with information, advice and in some instances subsidies

Community Energy Action (CEA)

Community Energy Action (CEA) is a Christchurch based charity provides help with

  • Insulation
  • Heating
  • Damp proofing
  • Earthquake damaged homes
  • Draught proofing
  • Curtains
  • Window insulation

This is provided through

You can contact them on 03 374 7222 or 0800 438 9276 between 9.00am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA)

Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA) has good information available for you on a variety of topics specifically for homeowners including

  • how to make your home warm and dry
  • how you can keep your energy costs down to save on your energy bills
  • vehicles and driving
  • home office
  • energy labels
  • funding and support

New Zealand Green Building Council

New Zealand Green Building Council is a not for profit organisation which has a vision of healthy warm homes for New Zealanders. You can use their free online tool to check if your house is healthy and warm. At the end of the questionnaire you’ll receive an impartial report with ideas on how you can improve your home.

Here are some tips on keeping your home warm and dry

Ventilating

Ventilation is key to preventing moisture building up inside a home. During winter homes are often locked up all day and night, trapping moisture from cooking, showers and occupants breathing.

The best way to ventilate your home is to open up all windows and doors for about half an hour when you get home from work. Aim to have cross ventilation by opening doors and windows on the opposite sides of your home for maximum benefit.

While it may seem a bit cold while you do this, the benefits are huge – your home will be drier and warmer. You will be surprised by how any thermal gain stored throughout the day in concrete floors is not lost by doing this.

Managing pests

When the weather gets colder, unwanted guests such as insects and rodents may also be looking for somewhere warm to live.

It is important to regularly checking the perimeter of your house to ensure any potential entry points are blocked.

Brick veneer cladding weep holes in brick work are required for drainage of the cavity – therefore do not block these. If they appear to be wide enough for a mouse to get in, wire mesh can be formed and secured in the weep hole to prevent vermin entry, while still allowing for ventilation and drainage.

While you’re checking weep holes, check that they’re not blocked and clear out any dirt or debris.

Winter tips

  • To help avoid your plumbing pipes freezing in winter add additional insulation around and over pipework, particularly in your ceiling space to ensure your water keeps flowing
  • Make sure new insulation has at least a 25mm gap between the top of the insulation and the underside of the roofing, to prevent moisture issues from condensation on the underside of the metal roofing
  • Do you have a log burner in your home? Get your chimney cleaned before winter to ensure your burner operates cleanly and efficiently during winter, and to prevent chimney fires
  • Pellet fires, gas fires, boilers, and multi-fuel burners/fires also need maintenance - so check with the manufacturer to know the specific requirements.

Weathertightness

All buildings must be built to the building code - which are the minimum standards buildings must meet to ensure they are safe and healthy to use and live in.

Weathertightness of buildings is a significant section of the building code. It relates to dampness and damage to buildings due to moisture.

If there is no drainage or ventilation between the cladding and framing water can become trapped. This can cause fungus to grow and an increase in rot. Well designed and built homes meeting the building code should not leak.

There were some major issued identified with ‘leaky’ homes built from the mid 1990’s. These homes did not meet the building code requirements due to the design of the building, installation of materials, or use of inappropriate materials for the need.

If your home has issues with weathertightness you can contact the weathertight services at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.