Damp problems are common and can make a property feel uncomfortable. Damp affects thousands of properties in the UK every year. The longer you leave it untreated the more difficult it will be to fix. The type of damp control and treatment you require is dependent on the cause of your damp problem.
Damp is usually the result of one of the three following problems:
Condensation, Penetrating Damp or Rising Damp
During the winter months dampness may become worse due to the colder, wetter weather. Many properties suffer from damp and mould growth due to condensation and poor property maintenance.
There are many solutions for damp problems, that range from simple lifestyle changes, maintenance that can be done yourself and professional treatments.
Check out our helpful guide below for information in identifying common problems and advice on how to fix them yourself and when to seek our help and advice.
Rising Damp is dampness from the ground that enters a structure by capillary action. It can occur on any wall which is built into the ground and is a common problem in older properties. It can be identified by decayed skirting boards, crumbling or salt affected plaster, discolouration and staining, decayed timber floors, peeling paint and wallpaper. These are all common signs when walls are affected by rising damp.
On internal walls, prolonged penetrating damp will create damp patches that damage plaster, leave water marks and leave a damp musty smell. Maintenance is a huge factor in the battle against damp problems. Carrying out regular inspections of your property can be done by yourself and prevent a great deal of damp related problems.
Tips to good maintenance
All of the below can lead to water ingress and damp problems. If you carry out regular inspections and keep your property well maintained, dampness should be avoided. Act fast, the longer you leave a maintenance problem the worse the dampness shall become and more expensive to fix.
If you cannot carry out these inspections yourself or would like further advice or need a written report, we can arrange a surveyor to come and inspect. To carry out a survey please call us to discuss our charges.
We do not carry out property maintenance to fix these issues and therefore do not have an invested interest to find faults that do not exist, however we can make recommendations to resolve problems.
Some tips to good maintenance which prevent damp problems manifesting within your property and that should be carried out regularly are:
Checking for damaged pointing or mortar between the bricks
Mortar can become loose over time resulting in voids between the bricks where rain goods can enter the masonry. It is important to keep joints in good repair.
Checking your roof for loose or broken tiles
It is not uncommon for a storm to dislodge tiles which can in-turn allow water ingress.
Checking the chimney for any damage to lead flashings, valleys and parapet walls
Over time these can deteriorate and can require repair.
If dampness suddenly appears/floors become wet this can be as a result of a plumbing leak and should be investigated by a plumber.
Shower/bath seal leaks
Condensation is often confused with rising damp. Condensation is the easiest damp problem to fix. It can often be solved cheaply and quickly, without the need for professional help. Damp on walls caused by condensation will typically manifest as black mould spots on paintwork and wallpaper. Black and/or white mould is a sign of inadequate ventilation, humidity and condensation related issues.
Causes and Signs of Condensation
Dampness caused by condensation will typically manifest as black mould spots on paintwork and wallpaper. Air can hold moisture; the warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold. If moist air is cooled by contact with cold surfaces such as walls and windows, relative humidity increases into humidity ranges where mould can grow. Condensation problems are more likely to occur on cold, outside facing walls but can affect any wall in the property given the right circumstances.
Condensation usually forms on the surfaces of external walls, in corners and in poorly ventilated spaces, such as behind cupboards and wardrobes, this is because these are the coldest parts of the property which are the most prone areas.
Condensation problems are more common in the autumn and winter months when people close their windows and increase the humidity. It is particularly prevalent in bathrooms and kitchens in poorly heated and poorly ventilated properties. Water vapour in the air settles on the coldest surfaces within the home leading to condensation and mould growth.
Visual signs of Condensation
Black mould especially in corners of rooms
Mould growth on window reveals
Musty smell within wardrobes or enclosed spaces caused by mould growth
Visual condensation/water droplets forming on windows, walls or bathroom fittings
Top causes of water vapour from everyday activities
- Washing and then drying clothes indoors.
- Showering/running a bath.
- Cooking/boiling the kettle
The top 5 easy tips to combat humidity build up in the home are
- Heating the house – Maintain a steady temperature and avoid temperature fluctuations during winter months. Make sure radiators are clear of obstructions so they can operate effectively.
- Extractors – Use extractor fans when cooking and showering. Using extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms make a big difference.
- Do not dry clothes indoors if possible. If you must, make sure to ventilate (just by keeping the windows open a little to allow for good ventilation). Do not dry laundry on radiators. Make sure tumble driers are properly extracted to take moisture out of the property.
- Using a dehumidifier to extract moisture from within the property.
- Ventilation, a little ventilation such as leaving windows on trickle vents helps to ease condensation issues.
- Insulating prone areas to increase the minimum temperature (including in the roof space).
Houses that have been unoccupied/closed up for some time are often affected by condensation. In Norfolk this is particularly common in holiday homes.
By applying the above suggestions along with regular property maintenance you can effectively control and eradicate condensation and mould, saving you money and creating a healthier living environment.
For a full checklist and helpful advice on combatting condensation we strongly advise you look at the attached advice leaflet and implement any of the factors to reduce condensation problems.
Positive Input Ventilation
An additional measure is a Positive Input Ventilation unit (PIV) fitted in the loft space that will use warmed air from conductive heat within the property. This will provide clean air that will significantly help reduce the condensation of atmospheric moisture on internal walls and windows and will provide a fresher feel within the property. Running costs are typically in the region of £10 per annum. Most units have an adjustable setting so can be controlled depending on humidity generated in the property. A reputable qualified electrician would be able to fit one of these units.
We do not fit these but can recommend them if we feel they are a suitable solution to condensation problems.
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