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What is damp?

"Damp" is the presence of excess moisture in a room. It occurs at any time in the year but tends to get worse after rain. Damp problems can cause serious damage to your home if you ignore it. Luckily, it can be easily prevented. There are a number of tell tale signs to look out for depending on the type of dampness.

Sources of damp problems

Damp problems can affect any type of building. Any of the following can cause dampness in a property:

  • A broken Damp Proof Course (DPC)
  • Degrading building quality
  • Inadequete Ventilation
  • Poor property maintenance

If left untreated, any of the issues above can lead to damaged plaster and paint, mould growth and even timber decay.

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Condensation is a common cause of dampness. If there is poor ventilation in your home, you are at risk of a condensation problem. It is caused when moisture cannot escape from your home. This leads to high humidity levels and moisture condensing on your walls. This will lead to problems such as mould, damp walls and a musty smell. You might also notice water droplets on windows. It is often everyday activities that cause condensation. Showering, cooking and drying clothes indoors all cause excess moisture.

Keep windows open as much as possible and use extractor fans when cooking and washing. This will reduce the amount of excess moisture in your home, which will reduce the risk of condensation and mould. Simply wiping away mould is not a permanent solution. The mould growth will return if the source of the ventilation issue isn't treated.

When your property's built in ventilation such as windows, air bricks and vents are not enough to combat dampness from condensation then a professional solution may be required.

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Rising damp

Rising damp refers to the process of ground water entering your property through the pores in brickwork. This occurs through capillary action. Rising damp can only occur on the ground level of a property. The common signs include salt marks on walls, damaged wallpaper and skirting boards, and tide marks. You may notice some of these signs outside your property as well as on internal walls. You may also notice localised mould growth - though more spread out mould would indicate a condensation problem.

Rising damp is commonly caused by a broken or bridged damp proof course. Therefore, the way to treat rising damp is often the installation or repair of a damp proof course. This can involve the injection of damp proofing cream.

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Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp is the result of water entering your property through external walls. It is often associated with wet weather. However, it can also occur during dry weather through burst pipes. It is common in older buildings and caused by property defects such as gaps and cracks in brickwork and gutters. It can lead to structural problems such as dry rot and wet rot, so it is crucial to not to ignore the signs of penetrating damp. Some common signs include damp patches, wet plaster and drips and puddles. Penetrating damp is treated by finding and eliminating the source of moisture.

Can I treat damp myself?

If you are worried about dampness or mould, it is important not to ignore it. Damp proofing your property will save you both time and money in the long run. There are some damp issues that you can treat yourself. Reducing the amount of excess moisture in your home may help to treat a condensation issue. Following this, you can attempt to clean away the black mould yourself. If you require professional help, our partners at Rentokil Specialist Hygiene offer professional mould cleaning services.

Some problems with dampness may require professional help. A damp proof course should only be installed by someone with the relevant experience and knowledge. If a damp proof course is not installed correctly, then rising damp can still occur.

Any property defects need to be repaired by someone with the relevant skills. Failure to do so will mean your property is still at risk to leaks and water ingress.

Can damp make you sick?

It is unlikely for damp to be the main cause of any health issues. However, it can make certain health conditions worse if you are exposed to it for an extended period of time. Those with respiratory issues can be at risk of seeing their symptoms worsened.

Recognising damp problems

Walls - The walls around your home are often affected when there is problems with dampness. Damp patches and fungal growth are two common symptoms. You may also notice peeling wallpaper, damaged skirting boards and flaky paint.

If the wallpaper starts to peel or there is flaking paint then this is another visual sign that your house is affected by damp.

Windows - Condensation appears on windows in houses with high moisture levels. Windows become "misty" and wet to touch. Puddles of water can start to appear around window sills. If this is not addressed, then you will start to see black mould growth.

Kitchens and bathrooms - Condensation problems are most likely to develop in kitchens and bathrooms. This is because cooking and washing create high levels of moisture. Keep an eye on black mould growth on walls and ceilings. A musty smell may also develop if the ventilation issues are left untreated.

Professional damp treatment

If you require professional help, do not hesitate to book a damp survey with Peter Cox. Our surveyors have decades of experience of treating and diagnosing damp problems. Contact us on 0808 159 5035. Alternatively, fill out our brief contact form and a member of our team will get back to you.

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