As we head in to winter a lot of people notice their house becomes increasingly cold, damp and musty. Whilst these conditions can usually be resolved by turning on the central heating, they could also be an early sign of damp. If left untreated, damp within the home can cause numerous problems.
Dampness can affect the appearance of your building by causing paint to crack and blister, damaging wood, grouting and plaster and can even lead to mould on walls and surfaces. It can also lead to more serious structural problems by deteriorating wood, metals, grout and plaster which could make your house unsafe. Dampness can also cause numerous health problems for inhabitants, such as coughs and colds and more serious conditions like asthma and even pneumonia. Rot and mould spores are known to pose various health risks, and multiply in damp conditions.
Identifying the early signs of damp and taking preventative measures could save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Now is the time to take precautions before winter really sets in. There are numerous different types of damp to look out for:
Air moisture condensation
Condensation is common in older houses where modern energy saving measures have been put into place. Double glazing and insulation result in reduced air ventilation, which means that humid air can cause condensation on colder walls and other surfaces. Everyday household activities like showering, bathing, cooking and washing increase humidity in the home. When this humid air has nowhere to escape, condensation can lead to damp. This kind of damp is relatively easy to prevent and treat. Extractor fans and vents can be fitted in humid rooms like bathrooms and kitchens to allow humid air to escape. Even simply opening a window whilst cooking or showering can alleviate this problem.
Exposed or damaged areas of the outer building can cause penetrating damp. Some problem areas are the roofing and chimneys and cracked brickwork. Rain penetrates through these weaker points in the building, and leads to damp within the house. Inspecting your property thoroughly both on the outside and the inside can prevent these minor weaknesses leading to major problems. Even tiny holes in a buildings outer protective layer can be exacerbated by freeze thawing in winter. By repairing them now you could be saving yourself a lot of hassle and discomfort in winter.
Most people overlook the interior of their house when protecting against damp, but internal leaks can cause just as much trouble as external damage. Things like leaky taps, shower areas that aren’t fully waterproof and damaged pipes can lead to damp within the home. A thorough inspection can find the source of any dampness. Interior leaks are a lot easier to treat than external ones, so don’t avoid them.
Below ground damp
Referred to as “rising damp” by man in the industry, this is the most difficult to tackle. Many older properties suffer from rising damp due to porous construction material and a lack of waterproofing during construction. Again modern housing developments can exacerbate the problem. Floors become damp if evaporation of the moisture is prevented by water tight materials like lino or rubber bottomed carpets. Moisture moves instead to the bases of nearby walls and chimneys, and spreads up the wall by capillary action.
Darren Thomson works in real estate. A lot of the houses he sees are affected by damp, and he often suggests the owners visit http://www.damp-solutions.com.