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Dampness in cellar

I have a 2 year old son who has asthma. we're looking at houses to rent. we found one that we like, but it has a cellar that is a bit damp. the house itself was damp proofed 15 years ago and doesn't show any signs of damp inside or out.

my worry is that the damp from the cellar may produce mould/spores that circulate up in the air of the main rooms of the house.

in most other ways the house is perfect for us and we've been looking for some time, but if there's a reasonable chance this could aggrevate my son's asthma, then that would be enough reason to pass.

still new to dealing the asthma, so any advice appreciated.

4 Replies

Hello Mooch,

I am a specialist children's respiratory nurse working in a regional centre in the north.

Is there a way you can find out for definate if it is damp (not the landlord but independantly) as damp could lead to problem with your boys asthma. Damp & mould is well documented as causing prolbems. You could do an internet search of reliable medical sites to find out more facts & then use it to try to get the landlord to sort it as really no one should live with damp.



Hi ann,

thanks for your reply. when we viewed the house the first time, I had a quick look in the cellar, but didn't check for damp. It was my dad who suggested looking more closely and when we went for a 2nd visit, he did so.

he said that the walls felt damp and the wooden benches that were built up around the walls looked like they had had mould as some point. he saw one small vent which he thought might be too small to vent out the moisture. in terms of the rest of the building he couldn't see any evidence of damp or mould.

the cellar is off the corridor on the ground floor of the house. the door to it is standard, not airtight and there is a window (yes, inside the house) at the top of the stairs. the cellar itself is down quite a few flights of the steps. Small and concreted.

at this point i doubt the landlord would do any remedial work to the property for my sake, as opposed to just renting to someone else. i have voiced my concern in an email and am waiting a response.

if i just assume the cellar is damp and goes untreated, should i be concerned about the possibility of mould spores in the air working their way up into the house?


If the cellar is concreted that will be the cause of the dampness, and it is very easily cured by the installation of a small radiator. Concreting a cellar is OK in Mediterranean countries (it was first used by the Romans), but with our climate that cellar will require a small heat source as well as the ventilation vent; then it should dry out very quickly, and stay dry!


Thanks GrafxArt.

A few people have suggested using salt, charcoal or a dehumidifier. I prefer the idea of using a radiator as a 'set and forget' solution.

How often do you think i'd need to run the radiator and for how long? esp given it's rainy now and coming up to winter. We wouldn't be using the cellar at all, so I wouldn't want to keep going down there to check for damp.

Do you think it would be realistic to ask the landlord to plumb in a radiator, which I imagine would be quite an undertaking to get pipes down there? Or do you know if it would be safe to have an stand alone radiator/heater down there, that could be plugged in and left alone on a timer switch.

Thanks again for the advice. It's invaluable in helping us decide what to do.


UPDATE: I expressed my concern in an email to the landlord and he's replied saying that the dampness was caused by a flood in the area four months ago. Since then the water company has changed the pipes on the road but the owners living at the property haven't bothered to dry out the cellar since. I'm wondering if it would be enough to ask the owner to dry out the cellar and clean away any mould?


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