Taking the right steps to protect your home from common damp problems
Damp is a big enemy; it can cause disruption, expense in damaged structures and belongings, illness, and is generally unpleasant wherever it occurs.
There are certain measures you can take to damp proof your home, but it’s important to understand the different types of common damp that may occur and to avoid potentially making matters worse thorough taking the wrong measures.
A damp proof survey
Perhaps a good place to start is in having a damp proof survey undertaken by waterproofing experts.
These professionals are used to diagnosing and treating damp issues in a multitude of environments, so can effectively assess and advise you where potential damp problems may lie and what to do about them.
Finding a suitable expert near you to, for example, advise on damp proofing your basement or cellar and provide a damp proof survey is as simple as conducting an online search under ‘damp proofing London’ if you’re in the capital or parts of Essex and Kent.
A professional damp proof survey will help ensure you don’t make mistakes in damp proofing; you stick to advised measures.
Potential mistakes you can make
A common error is in causing condensation issues when sealing doors and windows; while you may think you’re preventing possible damp, you may in fact be stopping natural ventilation so potentially causing condensation issues.
What you can do
Protect where you can against the three common damp conditions in the home:
- Penetrating damp
- Rising damp
Where warm, moist air hits a cool or cold surface and deposits moisture – usually seen in the form of a damp surface or droplets gathering. If not dealt with, mould can grow.
If you’re concerned about condensation, then ventilation is the key; rooms prone to warm air such as bathrooms and kitchens should be well ventilated so use extraction fans and maybe open a window slightly to keep air moving.
Various ventilation options may help such as air bricks and window vents. Your damp proof survey may well identify possible ventilation weaknesses.
Avoid if possible sudden temperature changes; for example, turning heating up to the maximum in a cold room or house. Allow things to warm up a bit more gradually.
Where water from the outside, a leaking pipe or similar gets into walls and woodwork and subjects it to constant dampening.
You’ll notice patches of damp in ceilings or walls, peeling wallpaper and paint if you’re affected by it.
To prepare against it your damp proof survey may warn about a potential problem in the making – perhaps a roof with loose slates or some cracked guttering – but an inspection of woodwork, brickwork and pointing is worth while every so often.
Basic maintenance such as clearing leaves and debris from guttering to stop water spilling over onto brickwork and maybe the roof tiles is worth while, and attend to a leaking pipe as soon as you notice it.
Roofs are a common entry point for water, so inspect regularly and attend to any loose tiles or slates.
Thankfully quite rare but can spell major problems in term of upheaval and expense if it takes hold
It’s caused by moisture below ground that literally rises through the walls; it’s characterised usually by a tide mark about a metre up the wall and may also show in crumbling plaster, peeling paint and wallpaper.
The main item to check is your damp proofing course – the failure of this is the usual cause of rising damp. It should be at least 15cm above ground level.
Some older properties that rely on lime based mortar to help walls breath properly can become subject to rising damp if mistakenly treated with hard cement render that traps moisture in the walls. If you live in an older property check carefully before doing any re-rendering or even having it done by others.
Again, your damp proof survey would have covered potential rising damp causes, so all the more reason for asking a professional waterproof company to carry out one for you.
Care with damp proofing
As mentioned earlier, you can inadvertently cause problems by errors in damp proofing and it’s easy to try and solve one problem yet cause another. Talk to your waterproofing professionals, especially if you have noticed evidence of damp.
How to effectively check your home against the main three types of damp and the benefit of having a damp proof survey undertaken by waterproofing experts.