Damp: What causes it & how to treat it.

Do you have damp issues in your property? Here’s some handy tips on how you can get rid of these problems…

Damp is a common problem with properties across the UK and must be dealt with both quickly and effectively to ensure that the property is not affected further by other damage as a knock on effect of the damp. In this article, we explain what damp problems can affect your property and the most practical ways to overcome them.

What is condensation and what are the signs to look out for?

The most common damp issue, especially at this time of year, is condensation which can affect properties of all shapes, sizes and ages. Condensation is caused by warm air in the property landing onto a cold surface in a property and as a result condensing onto a window or windowsill.

Condensation normally occurs in the colder months where the warm air is normally at its highest as a result of people turning the heat up to keep warm. The condensation is formed because the windows tend to be closed and any day to day activities which put moisture into the air, such as cooking and drying clothes, cannot escape the property. As a result there is no constant air flow in and out of the property and the moisture laden air remains within the property.

The notable signs that you might have condensation in your home are easy to spot. Water collecting on the inside of windows or on the window sill. Other signs that you may have a condensation issue are the forming of mould growth on walls and surfaces. Mould tends to be seen as black in colour but can also be white, green and yellow in colour. Decorative spoiling may also occur such as peeling plaster or paint.

What is penetrating damp and what are the signs to look out for?

Penetrating damp can be harmful your property if not diagnosed and treated correctly. This form of dampness occurs as a result of moisture moving horizontally through the walls of the building. It is essentially water found that has found its way through the fabric of structure as a result of external defects.

Examples of external defects include blocked rainwater goods and damaged roof tiles. For example, if the gutters are damaged and not taking rainwater away to a drain off point but instead directing the rainwater onto the brickwork this would cause a penetrating damp problem.

Penetrating damp is quite noticeable when looking at the outside of a property as tell-tale signs such as watermarks on the masonry and damage to the external roofing are easily identifiable.  Similar to condensation there could also be a damp musty smell. If damp has affected the timber then this will appear damaged whilst also providing the ideal conditions for wood rotting fungi to germinate.

What is rising damp and what are the signs to look out for?

Rising damp is dampness that is usually caused in buildings where the damp proof course (DPC) has become damaged and ineffective or where the ground levels have been raised over the height of the damp proof course. Rising damp is the form of the dampness that rises through the fabric of the walls through capillary action.

The signs to look out for rising damp are that you will have a “tide mark” on the inner and outer walls of the building. The plaster on the walls will also start bubble and peel away. On the inside the skirting boards will also so show signs that they are deterioration.

What will happen if you don’t treat your damp issue correctly?

If damp is left untreated what started off as a small problem can multiply several times over. If a condensation issue is left untreated it can have an impact not only on the property but also on your health. Black spot mould is a common side effect of a condensation problem. Black spot mould as well as unattractive to look at is also aggravate issues with asthma and other respiratory problems. As a result mould should be treated quickly and effectively with a mould removal kit to ensure that the mould spores are safely removed.

If you are selling your property having a damp issue can certainly have an effect on the selling process – after all nobody wants to live in a house with damp issues. Having a damp musty smell and paint peeling off the walls isn’t going to go down well with your potential buyers who see or smell this in your home.

Dry rot can be caused by all forms of dampness - penetrating damp, rising damp and condensation. Dry rot can cause serious damage to the structural integrity of the building so any issues that could lead to a dry rot outbreak need to be rectified as soon as possible. We recommend that for treating dry rot you should contact a specialist to inspect the property to ensure that any remediation is carried out effectively.

What can be done to treat damp?

There are measures that can be undertaken by yourself to treat damp issues that may be affecting your property. There are simple measures such as improving the ventilation in your home can help reduce the effects of condensation. Installing kitchen and bathroom fans as well as opening windows will help provide a constant air flow in and out of the property and remove stale, moist air.

If there is black spot mould within your property then you should purchase a mould removal kit which can safely eliminate mould from your home. By unblocking gutters and fixing leaking roofs you can reduce the chances of a penetrating damp issue occurring.

Treating rising damp is one procedure that should be carried out by a specialist. The correct installation of a damp proof course is best left to a qualified professional. A short term quick fix for rising damp will only mask the issue for a short period of time and will only cause long term hassle as well as prove to be more expensive to treat in the future.

If you see any signs of damp issues discussed in this article then we would advise to treat the problem as soon as possible. The longer you leave a damp problem the worse it will become and the more expensive it will be to treat. If you would like further information about damp then visit the Timberwise website on https://www.timberwise.co.uk/damp-proofing/.