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How Can I Prevent Damp In My Home?

Where ever possible, when it comes to damp, prevention is better than cure. In order to prevent damp it pays to maintain your home, this means responding to any damage to your property such as leaks, issues with guttering or external pipes, quickly. It’s surprising how neglecting to repair something small can lead to a huge expense.

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What is Damp?

Damp forms due to the presence of excess moisture caused by factors such as condensation through rain water seeping into a property or rising damp where moisture from the ground travels up through the walls by capillary action.

Damp problems tend to be at their worse during the winter however if left unresolved damp can be an issue all year round. You can spot the signs of damp on walls and ceilings, your walls may feel cold and look wet whilst ceilings will look stained and discoloured.

If left untreated damp can have an affect on your health causing things like; runny nose, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation.

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Rising Damp

Rising damp is harder to prevent and it can occur in a modern home, however, it is normally found in older properties as homes built from 1875 onwards have been built with a damp proofing course, known as DPC.

According to the English House Condition Survey, conducted in 1996, 11% of dwellings built between 1900 and 1918 are affected by rising damp with 1% of houses built after 1956 also affected.

If the damp proofing in the property has been ‘bridged’, for example, the exterior ground level has risen above the interior level; problems with rising damp are more likely to occur.

Rising damp only happens at ground floor levels as the moisture drawn up the wall comes from the soil in the ground. It is often confused with damp caused by condensation. 

Rising damp signs include; decaying skirting boards, crumbling plaster and tide marks on walls. You may even notice some external damage such as crumbling mortar and white salt stains.

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How To Prevent Rising Damp

The following will help prevent rising damp:

  • Use an electronic moisture meter (obtained from most DIY shops) to check the moisture levels in the walls twice a year.
  • Dig away any soil that is resting directly against the property to leave a gap and prevent moisture build-up.

Rising damp is easy to spot but it is often confused with condensation damp. Condensation damp is easier to remedy and not as expensive to fix.

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Condensation Damp

Condensation occurs when warm air collides with cold surfaces, or when there's too much humidity in your home. When this moisture-packed warm air comes into contact with a chilly surface, it cools down quickly and releases the water, which turns into liquid droplets on the cold surface. Condensation is caused by a build up of excess moisture that has nowhere to escape so forms on walls and ceilings. 

Poor or inadequate ventilation is the root cause of condensation damp, prolonged condensation damp leads to the appearance of black mould on walls, doors, ceilings and around window frames.

Depending on how bad the condensation problem is, black mould can appear almost anywhere in the home.

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How To Prevent Condensation Damp

You can prevent condensation damp by ensuring that your home is correctly ventilated.

If you are in the process of having any home improvements such as triple glazing or cavity wall insulation installed, you need to be aware that as you ‘seal up’ your property to conserve energy, you may be reducing the ventilation.

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23 Top Tips on How to Prevent Damp and Mould

1. Air out your home regularly - Open your windows to let damp out – and if your windows have trickle vents, use them.

2. Heat every room of your home. Central heating is designed to be used as a system, and leaving some rooms unheated can lead to cold spots, which are then more susceptible to damp.

3. Feel the walls for damp

4. Make sure air can circulate freely around your home. Avoid putting furniture directly against the wall.

5. Check pipes, drains and guttering to make sure that it isn’t blocked.

6. Make sure your washing machine and tumble drier are externally vented. Otherwise, you’ll introduce moisture to your home every time you wash and dry your clothes.

7. Check your roof for missing roof tiles. Look in your loft as well to double check you don’t have any leaks.

8. While you’re in the roof, check your insulation is dry. If insulation is incorrectly installed, it can lead to damp.

9. It’s worth lagging your pipes to prevent them from freezing in cold weather.

10. Check window frames for rot and peeling paint. Treat it as soon as you spot it to avoid more costly repairs.

 

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11. Check around your window frames as well, to see if there’s any damp.

12. Don’t dry clothes on your radiators. Use an airer if you have to dry clothes indoors – and put it in a room with ventilation (open the window if you don’t have ventilation).

13. Check your exterior masonry for peeling paint, cracked render and any other damage. If you spot any problems you may need to repoint using a suitable render. 

14. Check around fireplaces for damp. High levels of salts from burning fuel can make fireplaces particularly vulnerable to damp.

15. Look outside as well as inside if you have issues with damp. If vegetation is growing around – or into – your brickwork, or the level of soil has become higher than the level of your damp proof course, it can cause bridging which can lead to damp.

16. Close doors when having a bath or shower.

17. Check the ceiling area around your chimney breast. If there are signs of damp, it could indicate cracked or loose flashing between the chimney stack and the roof.

18. Go outside when it’s raining and check whether any external walls are particularly vulnerable to driving rain.

19. Check your door for rot. If the bottom of the door is rotten, or you have damp patches just inside the door, you may want to consider fitting a weatherboard.

20. Close kitchen doors when cooking and washing.

21. Check any below-ground rooms for signs of damp, such as peeling paint or a musty smell.

22. Wipe condensation from windows as it appears. This will help minimise the risk of black mould.

23. Do not turn off or disable extractor fans.

 

bathroom condensation can lead to damp

One way to prevent condensation damp is to have a whole house ventilation system fitted in your loft space or hallway to ventilate your home.

EnviroVent has a range of ventilation systems designed to prevent condensation and mould problems. By fitting a whole house ventilation system and correctly ventilating your home, condensation dampness will disappear and your damp areas will dry out, ready for redecoration.

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