Damp Homes

Is your home damp?

by: Rachael Willerton

A damp house can encourage mould growth and mites which can increase the risk of illness. Here are some tips to identify the causes and what to do.

Whatprice provide a special service where you can get up to 5 quotes from local tradesmen to sort out your rising damp problems

Water and damp ingress

Damp caused by water penetrating from outside has a couple of tell tale signs. Firstly water penetrating through brickwork will extract the salts and leave a white deposit called efflorescence. Secondly a leak will leave a tide mark. As the problem gets worse further ring marks will appear. It is a good idea to mark the outer ring and monitor to see how it progresses. Often it takes several attempts to solve a leak as water can travel in unusual routes.

If either of these signs are apparent check for obvious causes such as a leaking or blocked gutter/downpipe, objects stacked against the external wall bridging the damp proof course, leaking pipes, dripping overflows, damage to roof or missing tiles. If fixed quickly there will be less damage to the fabric of the building. For more serious problems or no obvious signs get an expert in. If you suspect the damp proof course is damaged or there is not one advice from a damp-proofing specialist will be required.

Condensation causes Damp

A common cause of damp is condensation. Condensation occurs when moisture in the air hits a cold surface and condenses. This is why it is more a problem in cold weather. Signs of condensation are mould growth in the corners of a room, around windows, behind wardrobes/cupboards, above cookers and baths and sometimes on north facing walls.

It is essential to treat any mould existing first. Wash off mould with a fungicidal wash following the manufacturers instructions. Bleach can also be used but may damage surfaces and care is required not to get it on the skin. Do not brush or vacuum up mildew as is will disturb the spores. Always dry clean clothes and shampoo carpets.

Redecorate surfaces with a quality fungicidal paint to help reduce mould reoccurring.

The only way to reduce condensation is to follow three simple steps.

1. Reduce moisture produced.

2. Insulate

3. Ventilate

There are very simple ways to reduce moisture in the home by simply changing our lifestyle. These tips will make a big difference to the moisture produced in the home.

Vent tumble dryers (unless self condensing)

Dry washing outside. If this is not possible hang washing up in the bathroom and leave a window open

Try not to use portable gas heaters as they add more moisture in the air

Cover saucepans when cooking.

Do not leave a kettle to continuously boil.

Condensation and Damp

If a home is warmer it reduces the likeliness of condensation. Insulation and draughtproofing is the most effective way of helping to keep your home warm and save money on our heating bills. Home improvements such as secondary or double glazing will reduce heat loss but you must ensure that windows are fitted with trickle vents. Cavity wall and loft insulation are also very effective. Check with you local council to se if any grants are available, pensioners and low income families usually receive substantial grants. There are companies that will carry out works on a grant scheme. In very cold weather low background heating on all day will help keep the fabric of the building warm and reduce moisture condensing on cold spots.

Here are some essential tips of what not to do:

Do not draughtproof the kitchen or bathroom

Do not completely block up chimneys (always fit an air brick or grill)

Do not block up ventilators

Do not cover eaves ventilators when laying loft insulation

Do no forget to draughtproof the loft hatch

It is possible to ventilate your home without making it draughty. Here are a few tips:

If windows have trickle vents do use them. If your windows don't look into the cost of fitting them.

Leave a gap between the back of furniture and an external wall. Where possible position furniture on internal walls.

Open kitchen and bathroom windows and close the door when in use. If you have an extractor fan please use them they are very cheap to run. If you don not have an extractor fan in these rooms consider fitting them.

When in a room open a small window.

If the condensation is worse in the loft or ceiling below check the eaves ventilators are not blocked. If none are fitted consider fitting some. Some eaves ventilation systems are hard to spot so close inspection is required. Always check what material a soffit is made from before purchasing a ventilator as some soffits in older houses are made from asbestos.

If you approach reducing condensation from the three simple steps you should find a dramatic difference. If no improvements are made seek professional advice.

Whatprice provide a special service where you can get up to 5 quotes from local tradesmen to sort out your rising damp problems

About The Author

Rachael Willerton publishes b4 school an online magazine for parents with fantastic competitions, features, reviews, activities, crafts, recipes and local information. To find out more go to http://www.b4school.co.uk.



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"I have a house in Spain, built into a mountain. In the winter when it rains damp will come through those walls built into the mountain. Any suggestions on how to prevent this?"

Ray Levy

"Finding it hard to sort out the damp (i think it is) in our home. Have what it look like damp on some of our walls in the house and wanted to check it is damp - who do u ask to come and look at this problem that are not just out for doing the work and getting the money. i want an honest view to get it sorted somehow. any help would be great."

Mrs V Wilson

"Why DON'T I have condensation - I should have! have often wondered why we don't. Continually use kitchen cooking/baths etc. I never ever use the extractor fans, have always dried washing oin radiators - at least three times per week - during winter months. Have loads of condensation dripping everywhere in kitchen when cooking. Rarely open windows. House is 3 bed 1912 semi. Yet my daughter has a newer property with terrible mould on all upstairs ceilings, always opens windows and uses extracors. Doesn't make any sense whatsoever."

H Stanton

"i have not solved my damp problem.the joist in bedroom is wet about a quarter of the way from the wall,no pipes leaking and wall is dry but its wet on the joist and coming threw livingroom ceiling,i\'m baffled "

jenny.m

"this didnt help me at all :/"

kooky katie :P

"my daughters house is 8 yrs old and was built with NO eaves, She has been told there is no cure as the external brick walls are absorbing moisture...is there anything she can do to correct this problem."

lee.. sydney

"My friend told me to keep all windows SHUT. previously I had been letting air circulate as much as possible. Against my expectations, this worked! No damp in wardrobe or spare room. I can't explain. Oh and also I take drying to laundrette in winter, this helps a lot too."

Lili

"i have found damp in every room in my house its really bad in my bath room. thank u so much for the help from yr page it will help so much "

donna

"i have found damp on the ceiling in all 4 corners of a bedroom which is been unoccupied for 12 months ,only in the corners of this one room upstairs and no were else in the house. i suspect that water is getting through the ridge tiles as the mortar is missing, hence runs down the felt and is finding a way in. would u agree?"

s.sharkey

"I have a damp issue and get condensation on the ceiling in the bedroom along one of the external walls. I have fitted trickle vents and cavity and loft insulation but the problems still remains? Any help would be good."

John

"useful thank-you."

s towler evans

"I am a pensioner, Who do I apply to for a grant towards damp proofing my home"

P.T.O'Brien

"Very useful information. Have a much better idea how to tackle our problem now. Many thanks."

Greg Luke

"very helpful, we didn't have a problem till we had new windows fitted, now we have patches of mould in several rooms but at least now I know its cause and how to fix it, many thanks"

G J hadley