Step one in the providing a solution to your damp problem is identifying the type and source of your problem.
Unsightly and unhealthy, rising damp can affect all buildings and is especially common in older buildings where either no damp proof course is fitted or any protection that exists is damaged or decayed due to age. It can also occur when the level of the elements surrounding the building has risen, such as after the installation of a new driveway, new pathways or garden borders where mositure holding substrates come in contact with walls above the original damp course.
Identifying a rising damp can generally be done by looking for visual clues and by touch. Signs of rising damp include ‘tide-marks’ on the wall above skirting boards of up to one metre in height, peeling wallpaper and possibly white salts which have been drawn out of the brickwork by the water and deposited on the surface.
A survey will reveal the extent of any problem but with modern treatments the problem can be successfully cured. Either a new damp proof membrane can be fitted to the area or water repellent chemicals can be injected into the brickwork with the removal and replacement of any affected plaster work and damaged timber.
Condensation is an underrated cause of moisture damage in our homes and is the most common cause of damp. It is caused by our everyday activities that produce water vapour, baths and showers, boiling kettles and saucepans, the vapour from which will eventually condense on colder surfaces when the house cools down.
Damp problems as a result of condensation are becoming far more common as the insulation of buildings becomes more effective and the exchange of air within our properties occurs far less frequently. Not only is this unhealthy but can lead to black mould, peeling decorations and if left unchecked can lead to permanent plaster damage.
In order to avoid condensation problems try to follow these 10 steps –
1) Ventilate your home by opening windows every day. During the winter you should make sure that double glazing vents are open to allow air to escape.
2) Always turn extractor fans on in the kitchen on a high power to allow them to extract any excess moisture from pots and pans – leave them on for at least 20 minutes after cooking to extract water vapour that you can’t see too.
3) Always keep the lids on pots and pans whilst cooking so that the moisture does not escape from the pans. You’ll also save gas and electricity by doing this as appliances can be turned down.
4) If you use a tumble dryer in the house make sure it vents to the outside. If you have to dry clothes inside do so in a closed room with a window open.
5) To prevent black mould leave a clear space between beds and furniture and external walls to allow for airflow.
6) Ensure air bricks and chimneys are clear to allow airflow.
7) Try to maintain a constant temperature in the home especially in winter. Cold air mixing with warm air leads to moisture release.
8) Use extractor fans in the bathroom whilst showering and bathing and again leave them on for 20 minutes after you’ve finished. Always keep the bathroom door shut to stop moisture spreading through the house.
9) Have your roof checked to see if there are any problems such as water leaking in and have moss and other growth removed.
10) Check guttering and down pipes to make sure that they are carrying water away and that there are no damaged/blocked guttering or drainpipes causing the external wall to become soaking wet.
To further reduce problems arising from condensation you may wish to consider a positive ventilation system to maintain a healthy flow of fresh air around your property and also improve the efficiency of your heating system. See Positive Ventilation.
Devon Damp Proofing can help remedy and repair all damage done by long-term condensation.
Penetrating damp is the horizontal ingress of moisture into a property that can lead to costly internal and external damage. It can arise from many sources but commonly it is due to damaged guttering and downpipes, other faulty plumbing fixtures, or damaged pointing in brickwork and other gaps and cracks in masonry and stonework.
The symptoms are similar to that seen in rising damp such as damp patches on walls that refuse to dry out, watermarks on masonry that grow and fail to dry out as well as black mould growth. Penetrating damp may appear anywhere on a wall not just rising from the bottom as is the case with rising damp.
Whatever damp problem you have our skilled workforce will
- Identify and remove the source of moisture that is causing penetrating damp.
- Survey and test any timbers that may be affected.
- If necessary, install a membrane within the affected area to prevent the penetrating damp affecting the timbers and plaster again.
- Replace any plaster affected with damp with a special damp resistant plaster to an area 300mm around the visible damp.
- Apply a fungicidal treatment to the timber and surrounding area to prevent rot.
- Advise what additional steps (if any) are required to safeguard the property.