Many of us will have experienced damp or condensation in our homes at some point. While it’s easy to pass these things off as no big deal, both can eventually lead to property issues if not protected against.
Living in a property with damp can contribute to health problems so it’s essential to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Furthermore, the worse the situation gets, the more it’s likely to cost to remove and repair any damage.
When tackling any form of damp problem, the first step to treating damp is to identify whether you have rising damp or penetrating damp. Whether it is rising damp or penetrating damp, it is important to recognise the signs of damp and how to treat effectively.
Rising damp is caused by groundwater moving up through a wall or floor by capillary action. While most walls and floors allow some water in, rising damp is usually stopped from causing damage by a barrier called a damp-proof course (DPC) or damp-proof membrane (DPM). It’s this barrier that protects against moisture rising and preserves masonry and any internal wall damage.
What Causes Rising Damp?
In many modern homes, as part of new building regulations, are built with a DPC and DPM in mind. Older buildings may not have them, or they may have worn or become damaged over time. If a DPC and DPM is damaged or deteriorates, this weakens the barrier and forms no protection to the property.
Rising damp can also happen when the level of the ground outside your home is higher than your damp-proof course or there isn’t proper drainage available. To effectively treat rising damp, any defects or bridging issues will be required to be resolved before treatment can begin.
Signs of Rising Damp
The most common signs of rising damp:
- Damaged or rotting skirting boards or plaster.
- Peeling paint or wallpaper, often with wet patches.
- Rising damp may dissolve soluble salts from the ground which can then crystallise and form a white powder-like substance.
- If the problem is coming up from the floor, you may notice floor coverings lifting or damp patches.
- A tide line of yellowish or brownish staining or brown plaster in the lower area of your wall above your skirting board.
In most cases, rising damp is a slow process and can take months or even years before walls begin to show signs of damage.
How to Treat Rising Damp
If you’ve discovered that a blocked cavity wall has resulted in rising damp, you can unblock it. This is something you can do yourself or you can hire a professional if you wish.
Install a damp proof course (DPC) this can include water repellent chemicals, pore-blocking salt mixture and osmotic water repellence.
Penetrating Damp is one of the most common forms of dampness found in properties across the UK. Penetrating through the external and internal walls by water ingress, penetrating damp can ultimately lead to severe property damage to the interior wall and decoration.
What Causes Penetrating Damp?
Structural problems in a building, such as faulty guttering or roofing or cracks in the walls are one of the most frequent causes of penetrating damp especially in older buildings but can occur to properties of any age. Penetrating damp can also be caused by internal leaks, such as burst pipes under the sink or bath.
Signs of Penetrating Damp
The most common signs of penetrating damp:
- Penetrating damp usually shows up through damp patches on walls or ceilings, which may darken when it rains.
- Growing circles of damp on walls or ceilings.
- Blotchy patches on walls.
- Wet and crumbly plaster.
- Drips and puddles.
Penetrating damp may take weeks or months to appear, as moisture continues to penetrate. Unfortunately, this usually means that walls or roofs are continuously soaked with water, which could lead to other underlying damp issues such as mould growth and decaying timber i.e Wet Rot or Dry Rot.
How to Treat Penetrating Damp
Treating penetrating damp requires eliminating the source of the moisture before treatment to the walls can begin. Locating the source of the moisture may require some detective work to determine where the moisture is penetrating the property, but there are many ways to eliminate moisture
- Resealing windows and exterior door frames,
- Repointing any crumbling or missing mortar between bricks
- Applying a water repellent coating to the masonry i.e. Rentokil Property Care Weather Protect
- Remove any obstruction or debris in your cavity wall, which is bridging dampness from the outer skin of the property to the inner skin.
Treating below ground-penetrating damp is more complicated and may involve the application of cementitious survey in the masonry or the use of a plastic membrane. A property surveyor experienced in ground-penetrating damp will be able to recommend the best form of treatment depending on the level of penetrating damp damage.
How Do I Fix Damp In My Property?
The treatment and cost to repair damp will vary depending on the level of damage and treatment, with no two damp problems the same and require professional expertise to resolve. If you do spot the warning signs of rising damp or penetrating damp in your property, it is vital to seek the advice from a professional to survey the problem as soon as you can.
If you do find yourself asking, ‘Do I have a damp problem’, or you believe you have a damp issue but not sure what to do, get intouch with our friendly property care team. Our friendly team will be able to arrange with you for one of our experts to carry out an extensive damp survey to examine the condition of your property and recommend the best damp treatment for you.