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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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How to Prevent Damp and Mould

Keep on top of outdoor home maintenance - Prevention is better than cure when it comes to damp problems. Check your roof regularly for damage, especially after stormy weather. Keep gutters clear and fix or replace as soon as any damage occurs.

Keep the home warm - Condensation occurs when warm, moist air touches a cold surface like a chilly windowpane or a cold external wall. Loft and wall insulation can help create warmer spaces, and properly fitted double-glazing will help to avoid misty windows as the inner panel of glass is insulated against the cold air outdoors.

Take care when cooking - Pans on the stove, as well as kettles, can produce considerable amounts of steam and moisture. Covering pans with a lid whilst cooking will help to minimise condensation on your kitchen windows. Switch on your cooker hood when using the hob and leave on for five minutes once you’ve finished to help clear the air. 

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Remove excess moisture - When the weather is good it's a great idea to open the windows in your property to allow air movement and a way for excess moisture to escape. 

Choose moisture resistant paint and wallpaper - If your home is prone to damp or condensation, choose wall finishes that make problem prevention easier. Opt for painted surfaces and choose paints designed for use in kitchens and bathrooms. With formulas designed to resist moisture and steam, they’ll not only help to keep mould at bay, but will also wipe clean more easily if any mould develops.

Leave room to breathe - Condensation can form behind furniture and furnishings that touch colder outer walls, resulting in eventual mould growth. Try to position furniture a few centimetres away from external walls, to allow air to circulate. 

Make sure your home is well-ventilated - Providing a route for moisture to escape from your home will help to minimise condensation. Double-check that washing machines and tumble dryers are plumbed in and vented correctly. Install an extractor fan in bathrooms and kitchens if one isn’t already in place, and make sure that it’s set to run for a long enough period of time to clear moisture from your room.

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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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