Damp problems are every homeowner’s worst nightmare, if only for the possibility of what lays hidden beyond the visible signs. Let’s face it, seeing colonies of black mold or mildew splashed on your walls, rugs, or floorings isn’t exactly a cause for celebration.
When that happens, the best you could do is pray that replacing the corrupted layer with a new one is all it takes to resolve the problem. The real dilemma starts when you realize the damp has infested deeper layers, requiring intervention on a much more foundational level.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for the damp problem to keep spiralling down the drain from this point forward. What could be easily solved is often complicated due to misdiagnosing the root of the problem? If you’re struggling with damp problems during your repair or renovation, here’s everything you need to know to make effective, informed decisions.
What Exactly Is Damp?
For new homeowners and potential home buyers, coming across damp problems can be an unsettling experience. They might not even know there is a damp problem at all until the signs stick out like a sore thumb that can’t be overlooked anymore.
So what exactly is damp? Damp is the term that describes the build-up of moisture in a unit or property. If you’ve come across dark spots spread on the ceiling, wall, or underneath carpets and rugs, those were most probably complications of a damp problem.
Some of the common signs of dampness include the following:
- Visible patches of mould or mildew, usually in the corners
- Frequent occurrence of condensation on surfaces like windows
- Wall painting that’s peeled off, bubbly, discoloured, or crumbling
- Decaying and spongy timber
- Frequent occurrence of rust
- Missing mortar or crumbling brickwork in exterior walls
- Rooms or spots colder than others
- A stale or musky smell
It’s common for homeowners to realize they have a damp problem when they see signs like those mentioned above, but just because there aren’t any visible signs doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t any damp problems. In all cases, once you start suspecting a case of dampness, it’s important to find the root cause and resolve the issue as soon as possible.
Failing to do so will only scale up the problem, which could lead to structural defects or even property collapse. It can also lead to various health issues, which is something you definitely want to avoid.
What Causes Damp In Properties?
Damp problems are, essentially, issues resulting from excess moisture that’s been trapped with no room to evaporate. So, this goes to say that any unresolved moisture issues that have been neglected long enough will, sooner or later, result in damp problems.
Going by this definition, you can imagine the number of causes that could result in damp problems. Leaking pipes, neglected home maintenance, indoor cleaning without ventilation, poorly ventilated basements – the list certainly goes on for much longer. That said, Sam from Advanced Damp sums up the most common damp problems under three categories:
penetrating damp, rising damp, and condensation. It’s only when you identify the root cause that you’ll be able to effectively solve the sequential damp problem.
How To Deal With Different Damp Problems
So how exactly do those three problems happen? Let’s get right into it. Here are the most common 3 damp problems and how to deal with them.
1. Penetrating Damp
As you can make out from the name, penetrating dampness results from the intrusion of moisture from the exterior area to inside the property. The moisture seeps from the ground through the walls, creating damp patches as a result.
Failing to contain it can quickly give rise to more complicated issues, including dry rot, wet rot, and structural decay of timber. Penetrating dampness can happen following heavy rain or overwatering the garden, and it usually grows in a horizontal manner across the surfaces rather than vertically.
Read More: What Are the Most Common Causes of Mould
Dealing With Penetrating Damp
Dealing with penetrating damp is quite straightforward, but that’s only if it’s quickly caught. Once you realize it’s a case of penetrating damp, you’ll need to eliminate the source of the dampness from the building’s exterior. Next, you’ll start to dry out the walls, which can take some time to be done.
Generally, warming your walls until they naturally dry out over time will be enough. But it may be more complicated in cases where penetrating damp has been left untreated for too long. In those cases, you may need extensive repair or renovation work.
2. Rising Damp
Unlike penetrating damp that intrudes horizontally, rising damp climbs the walls vertically. It usually reaches halfway through the walls, though, in some extreme cases, the damp can actually reach the ceiling.
The cause of rising damp is often due to the damage or absence of the damp-proof course (DPC) that’s supposed to be built in the lower layers of a wall’s brickwork to prevent the ingress of water to the wall. The DPC can be damaged following garden renovation work, for instance, or could’ve been missing from the start.
Dealing With Rising Damp
Unfortunately, fixing rising damp can be quite a hassle. True, you’ll come across various DIY fixes recommended in hardware stores, but should you really experiment at the cost of your home’s structural integrity? If you’re not confident in your ability, it’s better to consult with a damp-proofing company to assess the damage and recommend a professional solution.
Condensation usually occurs in bathrooms and kitchens due to sharp fluctuations in temperature. That normally happens after bathing with hot water or cooking without ventilation. As a result, you’ll see mist and droplets building up on the surfaces, which goes beyond windows and mirrors to include walls and furniture.
Treatment and Prevention
Technically speaking, condensation isn’t officially considered a damp problem. That means that there’s little a damp-proofing service provider can do to fix a condensation issue. However, neglecting a condensation issue can quickly turn it into a penetrating damp one, so be sure to wipe down the surfaces that usually collect moisture constant.
There are visible signs that indicate a damp problem, but there also are times when you fail to recognize the problem. That’s why potential home buyers are advised to carefully inspect a building before making the purchase. If you already own your property, committing to regular maintenance can help you catch and resolve the problem before it escalates.