There are many misconceptions about damp and what actually causes it. Here, Phil Harrison, Domestic Ventilation Manager at EnviroVent, gives his advice on recognising different types of damp and offers his tips on improving indoor air quality.
“Damp affects approximately one fifth of UK homes, but recognising the type of damp and acting quickly is the key to getting rid of the problem.
There are three main causes of damp within the home. The most common is condensation dampness, which is caused by high humidity levels and moisture in the air. This can be caused by everyday activities, such as breathing, cooking, bathing and showering, making it difficult to completely prevent moisture build-up in the home.
Condensation damp is easily recognised by streaming windows and walls, discoloration of window panes and eventually the growth of black mould. This type of dampness has been proven to exacerbate respiratory and dermatological conditions, such as asthma. It is also one of the easiest issues to fix as it can be remedied through one of EnviroVent’s effective ventilation systems.
Preventing condensation dampness
The only way to prevent condensation dampness is to make sure a home is correctly ventilated. Often older ‘draughty’ homes are ‘sealed up’ with energy efficient doors and windows and cavity wall insulation, which does conserve energy, but the downside is that it also reduces ventilation, trapping moisture inside.
To quote consumer magazine Which? (the Consumer’s Association) advice ‘think about whether there is enough ventilation in the room where the damp is. This is particularly important if your home is old, as new insulation or windows can reduce vital ventilation.’
It may be the case that extract fans in the home are not working properly or are clogged up – this needs to be checked and replacement fans fitted, if necessary. EnviroVent’s range of eco-friendly ventilation systems deliver fresh, filtered air into the home from a central position (hall, loft or landing). There’s also a ventilation unit of this type that can be fitted into apartments.
By having a whole house ventilation system fitted, it means that condensation dampness will disappear and a home’s damp areas will dry out and can be redecorated. The fusty smell will be eradicated and the indoor air quality will be much improved, helping to relieve symptoms of asthma and other respiratory conditions.
The other two types are rising damp and penetrating damp. Rising damp only occurs at ground floor level, as the moisture drawn up the wall comes from the soil in the ground especially if the outside ground level is higher than that inside. The effects are crumbling plaster, water-marked walls and decaying skirting boards. It is advisable to seek expert advice to deal with this as it can often be misdiagnosed.
Penetrating damp is caused by water entering a property through walls, floors and ceilings, for example, by blocked rainwater systems or loose rendering and wall joints. It can also be caused by a burst pipe or a problem with plumbing. Some of the signs are damage to plasterwork, decaying timber and watermarks on masonry.
Once the type of damp has been diagnosed, appropriate action can be taken to remove and prevent damp in the future. Penetrating damp can be dealt with by getting whatever is causing the leak or water ingress fixed. If the home is suffering from rising damp, an expert should be invited to survey the property and determine the extent of the damage. There may be a need to install a chemical or osmotic Damp Proof Course or damp membrane.
Whichever type of damp it is, it’s essential that it is dealt with quickly to prevent mould from forming. This can be a major cause of poor indoor air quality, which can be hazardous to health.
If a home has condensation damp, then it’s a good idea to have a ventilation survey. We can help by providing a no-obligation, home survey and advice on the best approach to improve the air quality within your home.
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