Identifying a damp issue early and taking measures to deal with it, before it causes too much damage, is always the best policy. Fortunately, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for. Damp characteristically leaves stains, dark patches and discolouration on walls and can sometimes lead to mould forming. In confined and unventilated spaces, is usually accompanied by an unmistakably musty smell. Decayed skirting boards and damaged wall plaster within properties are also often a sign. There are three main types of damp to look out for; Condensation, Rising Damp and Penetrating damp.
Condensation occurs where moisture produced in the property through normal living – cooking, showering and drying cloths – evaporates into the atmosphere and then condenses on a cold surface such as an external wall. It can be found in properties of any age, size or design but often in modern properties. While condensation is one of the most common damp problems in a building, preventing it requires a change in habits, such as keeping rooms at an even, moderate temperature and opening the windows to increase ventilation. If you don’t want to waste that heat energy or not alter your way of life then an Ecor Pro dehumidifier is ideal.
Rising damp occurs when moisture is drawn upwards through the mortar and masonry of a building by capillarity. Any masonry type can be affected but the more porous building materials such as brick and sandstone are most susceptible. From the 1900’s onwards most buildings incorporated a damp proof course (often referred to as a DPC) that acts as a horizontal barrier to water rising. However, if you are maintaining an older building then this might not be the case, as a damp proof course will not have been included in its construction, or the existing one may have failed. To remedy this you will need specialised contractors to seal the DPC or put on in.
Penetrating damp is most often caused by exposure to prevailing winds, which can drive rain into the masonry, and is most pronounced on buildings with solid rather than cavity walls. Property defects such as defective pointing, gaps around windows, leaking roofs and gutters or even flower beds banked up against the side of the building can all lead to moisture entering the building. The most effective way to protect a property from penetrating damp is to firstly rectify such defects and then apply a breathable water repellent cream to the exterior of the property.
Top tips to prevent damp in your property
Many issues people consider as “damp” in a building are often symptoms of condensation. A tell tail sign is behind wardrobes where mold often is found when condensation is the problem. If the coldest wall in the home (one that gets the least sunlight on it typically the North wall) has the most signs of damp it’s probably condensation.
Ensure that external ground levels are a minimum 150mm below the building’s current damp proof course
Regularly check gutters, down pipes and drains to ensure there are no blockages or leaks so that water is running down the outer wall constantly.
Inspect flashing on your property’s roof and seals around windows to ensure they prevent water from entering the building.
If the outer lining of the building is sound, or it’s a relatively new building, chances are that this will be a condensation issue. Condensation forms not just on windows but on any surfaces that is cooler than the rest of the surfaces in the home.