Your home is your castle, keeping you warm and cosy from the frigid outdoor temperatures and protecting you against icy winds and the pouring rain. However, when your home faces damp, suddenly it’s no long the protector you have grown to love and trust and instead, you are faced with potentially expensive repairs or worse, structural damage.
Fortunately, while damp can cause plenty of damage, normally it won’t happen the moment you have a leak and takes some time before it becomes an epidemic in your home. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should wait around as the longer water is collecting, the further damp can spread and the more damage it can cause. If you suspect your property is suffering from damp, follow our advice or if the situation seems out of control, consider getting in touch with a professional damp proofing company.
Identifying Signs of Damp
The most common indication of a damp problem is patches of damp on your walls or ceiling. The area will look darker than surrounding dry spots and potentially discoloured depending on how long the problem has been occurring. These areas will feel cold and damp to the touch and depending on the cause of your damp problem, may expand and become worse when it’s raining outside.
If you can’t see visible patches of damp but think there may be a hidden damp problem, you might notice the following signs:
– A musty or stale odor
– Increased condensation on windows
– Cooler air flow throughout the property
– Blistering or discolored paint
– Crumbly skirting boards
– Peeling or lifting wallpaper
Some of these signs are easier to notice than others so it’s advantageous to perform a home inspection several times a year and closely inspect areas that are prone to damp (around windows, plumbing, in the roof). Other, more visible signs of damp include:
– Mould, mildew or fungus growth
– Discolouration or dark patches on ceilings and walls
– Changes to plaster on walls
– Signs of rotting or decay to wood
– Rust developing on metal fixtures
– Algae or efflorescence visible on external walls
What to Do If You Find Damp
The very first thing you must do on noticing a damp problem is locate the source of the damp – this might be from damaged windows or windowpanes, a hole or damage in the roof, leaking pipework or damage to your property’s damp proof course or membrane. Cracks and holes can be plugged fairly easily, as well as replacing leaky pipework if it’s in an easy to access location – however, roof repair and replacement of a damp proof course/membrane should be carried out by a professional contractor to avoid causing further damage to your property.
A damp proof course or membrane (DPC/DPM) is a material that is installed into the property walls at the time of construction. It is sited approximately 150mm above ground level and works to prevents bricks from drawing up moisture from the ground. This capillary action of drawing moisture from the ground up through the wall can lead to the issue of rising damp – which is commonly indicated by flaking, crumbling and rotting skirting boards. It can also lead to penetrative damp – where moisture ingresses through the porous brickwork face and causes damp patches on the internal walls.
Once the source of your damp problem has been identified and repaired – either as a confident DIY project or by a professional, you can repair the damage the damp caused, and life can return to normal.
Preventing Damp in the Home
Sometimes, damp is unavoidable and caused by factors outside of our control but more often than not, there are some better practices we can follow and damp proofing we can put in place to ensure damp doesn’t end up damaging our homes. To prevent damp in your home, make sure to:
– Install efficient ventilation in bathrooms, kitchens and any room with a high moisture level
– Avoid drying clothes indoors or if you must, dry clothes in a well-ventilated room with the window open
– Cover saucepans and other high-steam cookware when preparing meals
– Regularly check, clean and maintain external gutters
– Regularly inspect and perform necessary maintenance to windows
– Inspect and install proper insulation in roof/attic spaces
– Check hidden pipework regularly for leaks or general wear and tear
– Ensure down pipes are maintained and installed correctly over an unblocked drain
While not a direct cause of damp, if your external (and attic) pipes aren’t lagged (insulated with an outer layer) this can lead to problems in freezing weather. Uninsulated pipes carrying moisture freeze, burst and flood inside walls or in cupboards where you might not see the issue until a lot of damage has been caused.
By following these handy tips and regularly inspecting your property for general wear and tear or unseen damage, you can keep on top of the smaller issues before they become big repairs and ensure your house remains a welcoming home for years to come.