Identifying and Resolving Damp in your Home
Damp is a common problem in many homes. However, there can be a variety of causes and appropriate treatments.
If there are signs of damp on the internal walls of your property, they are not just unsightly, they can also cause costly damage and even have health implications. The truth is, the British climate along with the huge number of older properties combine to mean that damp is a common problem in many homes. It is one that most of us will encounter from time to time.
Here, we have sought advice from a damp specialist to discuss three of the most likely causes of damp, and we provide some tips on how to eliminate the problem for good.
It’s a phrase we are all acquainted with, but how many of us really understand what it is? Every building is surrounded by moisture in the ground, and this, of course, becomes worse during heavy rainfall. The stone or brickwork used to build your home can act as a sponge and soak up this moisture through capillary action.
This is an understood phenomenon, and is why every building should have a layer of damp proof course – a waterproof membrane that acts as a barrier. Rising damp occurs when this barrier is either absent, becomes damaged over time, or is bridged.
Tell-tale signs include a “tide mark,” typically around one metre above floor level, peeling wallpaper or unsightly white marks.
If you have a rising damp problem, it is worth asking yourself whether it started suddenly as a result of your own actions. Perhaps you added a new feature such as a flower beds or a patio, and these have allowed the damp to get into the walls.
If not, it is likely that you need expert help to repair or replace your damp proof membrane.
Today, we are far more likely to encounter condensation than in years gone by. Increased use of central heating and better insulation combine to create more moisture in the air, which is unable to escape. If you have water droplets on the window sills, black marks on the walls or a musty smell permeating the house, it is most likely due to condensation damp.
Improved ventilation can certainly help reduce the causes of condensation, but if those signs have already manifested, then you also need some proactive assistance to eliminate the existing problem before you can set about preventing a recurrence.
The only way to cure condensation damp long-term is to insulate your walls, floors and ceilings so that water vapour does not condense on the surfaces, and has time to escape through ventilation.
If you have unaccountable damp patches on the walls in specific locations or damaged plaster, the cause could well be penetrating damp. This is when moisture enters your wall at a particular point, usually due to some form of damage, for example broken guttering, leaky pipework or defective pointing. Often, it can be a challenge to find the source of the problem, as water might enter at one point and manifest itself somewhere entirely different.
Solving the problem, for example by repairing the brickwork or replacing a leaky pipe is, of course, important. However, by the time it has manifested into a damp problem, you also need to get an expert to check for other potential consequences such as dry rot, wet rot or black mould.