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A Guide to Damp for First Time Buyers

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A Guide to Damp for First Time Buyers

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Feb 18, 2021

If you are buying a house for the first time, you may be worried about the risk of damp and how this might affect your purchase.  During the process of buying a house, the mention of damp can be scary and is something that may put you off purchasing a home that you otherwise like.

There are different types of damp, and it is a good idea to find out how to identify them so you can decide whether they are going to be costly to deal with.  Rising Damp can be a major issue for homes and cost a lot of money to fix whereas other damp types might not be as much of a problem to deal with.

Damp does not necessarily mean that you cannot buy a particular house – if you are part way through the process of buying, and damp is flagged as a problem, you should get the damp checked out by a professional and then speak to the seller about what can be done to either fix the issue or negotiate on the price.

Spotting Damp

If damp is only identified during the survey of the property, then it may be too late to agree to have it repaired and your lender may be less willing to release the funds.  Being able to identify damp when you visit the property is essential if you want to avoid problems later.

There are 4 main types of damp:

Rising Damp which is caused by water from the ground being drawn up into the walls of the house.

Lateral Damp which is caused by moisture getting into the house through the walls.

Penetrating Damp which is caused by water entering the house through holes the walls, roof, or around windows.

Condensation Damp is caused by moisture in the air inside the house being released onto cold walls where it can soak into the walls and lead to mould growth.

The Signs of Rising Damp

If rising damp is identified in the survey of your new home, your lender may place conditions on the mortgage, and it is something that needs to be fixed.  However, waiting until the survey is conducted can mean significant cost and disappointment that you can avoid by being able to spot rising damp early in the process.

The easiest way to spot rising damp in a house is to look for a tide mark on the wall where the damp patches end.  This will usually be about 1 metre above the ground.  Rising damp is caused by bricks drawing water out of the ground and into the walls of a property, but due to gravity it will not usually get above 1.2metres above the ground.  If there is no tide mark on the wall, you may also notice other signs such as peeling wallpaper at the bottom of the wall, rusty screws in the skirting boards, or evidence of crumbling plaster.

The damp area might be dry to the touch, but this does not mean the problem has been resolved. 

The Signs of Lateral Damp

Lateral damp usually appears similar to rising damp; however, the point of intrusion is a wall.  As such, the damp patches might be higher up the wall.  If you find damp high up on an external wall, it can be useful to go outside the property to see if there is an obvious cause such as a missing tile, a crack in the brickwork or an overflowing gutter.

The Signs of Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp is like lateral damp as it comes through the exterior walls.  You can normally see this type of damp on the outside wall of the property in the form of a damp patch.

Penetrating damp can be caused by a variety of different factors including:

  • Missing roof tiles
  • Overflowing gutters
  • Faulty flashing
  • Leaking pipes
  • Poorly fitted doors and windows
  • Damaged render or pointing.

Penetrating damp can be expensive to resolve as a builder may be required to visit the property to assess the problem fully.

The Signs of Condensation Damp

Condensation damp will usually present as a damp patch on an exterior wall and there may not be any clear reason for it.  Excessive condensation is a sign that there is too much water vapour in the house and that the airflow is not sufficient to maintain a lower humidity.

You may notice black mould in corners or behind furniture where the air flow is much lower. 

Treating Condensation in the home requires improvements to the ventilation – the extractor fans in the bathroom and kitchen may simply be old and need replacing, but there are other options including whole house ventilation systems that can be retro-fitted to a property.

Acting on Damp

The presence of any kind of damp in your new home can create health issues, so it is important to act quickly.

Our local ventilation specialists can help address the problems caused by condensation damp by improving the ventilation in your new home.  Contact us today to book a free survey.

Need help with condensation, mould or damp problems?

One of our local experts will contact you to learn more about your problems, offer free expert advice and make recommendations for a permanent solution.

During the free survey we will

  • check Assess any condensation, damp or mould problems in your property
  • check Take readings of the relative humidity levels
  • check Identify any underlying problems and make recommendations for a permanent solution

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