Diagnosing Damp Problems in Your Home
If damp takes hold in your house, it might lead to serious problems that can be expensive to repair, not to mention bad for your health! If you discover damp patches in your home, dealing with the underlying problem is important if you are to avoid the problems with damp getting worse over time. There are different causes of damp which need to be dealt with differently; diagnosing damp problems so that the cause can be understood is the first step in preventing long term issues.
What are the risks of damp?
If damp takes hold in your home, then it can cause a variety of problems. The first, and most direct of these is the superficial damage to walls and floors. You might see wallpaper starting to peel away from walls, or paint flake away from the plaster. Below the surface of a wall, damp can cause plaster to crumble away, and plasterboards can begin to fall apart. Repairing these problems requires professional tradespeople and can be costly.
The second major issue with damp in a home is that it provides an environment for mould, mildew, and dust mites to thrive. Black mould can grow on walls and ceilings, and aside from being unsightly, it can also be damaging to your health. The spores that are released as the mould spreads are an allergen that can make live miserable for people with asthma and other respiratory disorders. Some moulds also release chemicals called mycotoxins that can lead to serious illness if ingested
What Causes Damp
Quite simply, damp in a property is caused when moisture has been allowed to soak into material such as plaster and is not drying out. There are several main causes of damp.
Rising Damp is found on the ground floor of a building where moisture is being drawn up from the ground because the damp course in the walls has failed.
Penetrating Damp is caused by water getting into the property – usually through the roof or a gap around a window. This type of damp is often seen on ceilings.
Condensation Damp is caused when humidity levels in the home are too high for too long. This is usually as a result of poor ventilation. When condensation from steam forms on porous surfaces such as walls, it can soak in and saturate the plaster leading to patches of damp to form.
Damp can also be caused when there is a leaking pipe or radiator and water escapes and soaks into the neighbouring walls or ceilings.
Diagnosing Damp Problems
In order to treat damp, it is important to understand the cause. A damp survey will examine damp patches and measure humidity levels in the home. In the case of rising damp, a visual survey is often enough – when patches of discolouration appear less than 1 metre above ground level, and are on exterior walls, rising damp is usually the culprit.
Penetrating damp is also straightforward to diagnose, as it will normally form close to the source of moisture – a leaking window frame or below part of the roof.
Condensation Damp can occur anywhere in the home but is most common on exterior walls and in bathrooms or kitchens where there are higher levels of humidity.
Dealing with Damp
Penetrating or rising damp will need to be dealt with by a builder or roofer who can repair the underlying cause, either by replacing the damp course around walls, or repairing the holes where water is getting in.
Condensation damp needs to be resolved by reducing humidity levels in the home. This can be done through the installation of suitable ventilation. Extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens can help to reduce the amount of moisture in the air preventing the condensation from forming. Whole house ventilation such as Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) is a more comprehensive system that brings fresh air in through a central hub and feeds it gently out into multiple rooms to improve air flow and prevent condensation everywhere.
Find out More
If you have discovered a damp patch in your home, it is important to act quickly to avoid expensive repair bills later. Book a free home survey. Our local ventilation specialists can diagnose the cause of damp in your property and provide a long-term solution that will remove the problem and prevent it getting worse.