If you walk into a house with a damp problem, you will notice it immediately in the musty smell, crumbling plasterwork, and stains on the walls. A damp house is not a welcoming place to be, and for residents it can also lead to long term health problems.
Damp on walls and ceilings is unsightly and can be expensive to repair, but it is important to take steps as quickly as possible because the presence of damp can create the perfect environment for the growth of mould and dust mites that can affect quality of life and wellness.
In a house, damp occurs when water is allowed to soak into porous surfaces like walls and woodwork. The amount of water builds up over time and eventually breaks down the material where it has developed.
There are three main causes of damp in homes.
Rising Damp is where moisture from the ground is drawn up into the walls. Rising damp is found in houses where there is no damp course in the brickwork to function as a barrier and is instantly recognisable. Rising damp, as the name suggests is found on the ground floor and causes a rising stain on walls up to a height of about one metre above the ground. It usually needs to be repaired by a builder.
Penetrating damp is caused when water is leaking through a wall or ceiling. It might be caused by a hole in the roof, a gap around a window, or even a leaking pipe. Penetrating damp is usually recognisable as a stain around the source of the moisture and as with rising damp, it will usually need to be repaired professionally.
The third cause of damp, and usually the most common in modern homes is condensation damp. This is where water vapour in the home is allowed to form condensation which soaks into walls to create damp patches. You will often find condensation damp on exterior walls or behind furniture where there is limited airflow. Dealing with condensation damp requires improvements to ventilation to better control humidity levels. This can be achieved by ensuring that bathrooms and kitchens have good quality extractor fans or through the use of a whole house ventilation system such as PIV (Positive Input Ventilation).
Damp creates the perfect environment for mould to grow. Where damp is present you will often see black patches of shiny mould growing on walls and ceilings. Black Mould releases spores into the air as it spreads, and for many people, these are an allergen that causes inflammation of the air ways and can worsen respiratory conditions such as asthma. Some species of mould such as Stachybotrys Chartarum or “toxic black mould” release a type of poison called a mycotoxin. This can be extremely dangerous for people with weakened immune systems such as older people and children and needs to be removed professionally.
Where there is damp, you will also find dust mites. Damp areas often have poor airflow that allows normal household dust to build up. The microscopic mites that feast on household dust release waste products that are light enough to be carried around on the faintest breeze. Dust mite excrement is highly allergenic and is commonly linked with asthma.
Preventing damp in your home reduces the likelihood of mould and dust mite problems from developing and will help to protect your health.
If you are worried about the health risks of damp to you and your family, it is important to act quickly. If you have problems with condensation in your home, the chances are that damp is not far behind. Speak to one of our local ventilation experts today and book your free home survey. We will visit your home, identify the causes of condensation, and provide advice about the best way to stop the problem for good. Simply enter your postcode below to find a local specialist who can help.
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