There are a number of different types of damp, but what type of damp do you think you have?
Damp issues can be a nightmare for your home. It can appear as staining and spoil decoration on your ceiling and walls, and it sometimes smells. However, damp issues can start to cause problems and spread for a while before you even know about it. How do you know what type of damp you have?
Rising damp, penetrating damp and condensation are just three of the most common types of damp issue that can affect your home. But each needs to be diagnosed and treated in different ways, and the costs can vary dramatically, so it’s important to know what type of damp is affecting your home before you try to get it fixed.
Whilst not a straight forward type of damp, any obvious leaks need to be dealt with before they cause a severe damp problem. Some small leaks can build up over time into a very big damp problem. Keep an eye out for growing patches on the floor, walls or ceilings, or look out for puddles where there shouldn’t be puddles.
Badly installed or damaged pipework; or poor seals around showers and baths are common areas for this problem to start.
Be aware. Be on the lookout for any problems. Check behind appliances like washers or dishwashers. Reseal your bath and shower when needed, and always use a reputable/competent plumber.
This is one of the most common types of damp. It is more prevalent in condensation season, which runs from October through to April. Do you have steamed up windows; or puddles of water on your window sills? Maybe your walls have damp patches or peeling wallpaper? Is persistent decoration spoil is driving you mad? Can you see black spot mould and do you have water running down your walls? These are all common signs of condensation.
While it is likely that condensation will happen in poorly insulated and ventilated bathrooms and kitchens it will also occur in places that are hard to see. Anywhere that prevents air circulating has a potential for condensation, these are known as dead pockets of air.
Good ventilation, insulation and heating are the best treatments. A PIV (positive input ventilation) unit is really a must have if your property suffers from condensation, read our other blog about how it will help you.
Blotchy patches on your walls and water marks can be two of the main signs of penetrating damp on external walls. You may also get wet or crumbling plaster with persistent decoration spoil, and potentially some fungus or mould. All of these are caused by moisture leaking through the masonry.
Penetrating damp can occur for a number of reasons;
- Missing roof tiles
- Overflowing gutters
- Faulty flashing
- Leaking pipes
- Poorly fitted doors and windows
- Damaged render or pointing
All of the above examples will have the potential for moisture to penetrate and with high moisture (water ingress) present around structural timbers; fungi and decay can affect the stability of the property. If conditions are right Dry Rot may take hold and spread. Wet rot and beetle infestation can also occur if the areas are poorly maintained.
Keep your home well maintained, check your roof and gutters regularly while it is raining, make sure that the external coatings are properly applied and masonry is in a good condition.
This is not always easy to see as it can be in the masonry underneath the wall plaster. Rising damp is caused by ground water moving up through the masonry capillary’s (pores) before evaporating out of the wall at a certain height. This will leave behind salts from the ground (chlorides & nitrates) in what is called the salt band. These salts are hygroscopic and will absorb moisture from the air and this, in turn makes the wall wetter at times of high humidity. Use your senses here, you can often smell damp. If you do smell damp, then check for patches just above your skirting boards, this is where you will notice it. Also look for any deflection in timber floors, this could be a sign the joists have decay.
You can have a chemical damp-proof course injected into your walls if no damp-proof course exists already. This will help to prevent moisture rising up the wall from that point on. The wall can still take up to a year to dry out and for all the moisture to evaporate out of it. This is why professionals will hack off any contaminated plaster up to 1.5m and will then re-plaster the area in accordance with BS6576 which says a salt neutralising plaster must be used.
As this treatment is subject to regulation you must get a reputable company in to carry out the work. They will be able to give you a guarantee for the works. You will need this should you decide to sell your home. The Property Care Association (PCA) have a post code search system on their website and you can find the nearest qualified members.
What do you do now?
Damp is a nightmare in homes, and once it is spotted you must find the source of the damp so that you can deal with it and stop it getting worse. The best way to deal with damp is to identify it, diagnose it and then treat it.
It is not un-common for a property to have all different types of damp affecting different areas of the property at the same time. These will all need dealing with differently. That is why it is so important to have the correct survey carried out.
We would always recommend that you use a suitable qualified professional in any of the circumstances mentioned throughout this blog. A good surveyor will use a moisture meter, the readings taken can be measured and then the pattern will determine what type of damp is present.
Qualification in the damp industry are the Certificated Surveyor in Remedial Treatments (CSRT) and the Certificated Surveyor in Structural Waterproofing (CSSW). These qualifications show that the individual has invested time and money in studying how to treat every aspect of damp in your property.
If you are unsure about what type of damp you have or how it should be treated please feel free to call one of our team on 01226 287 181 and we will be more than happy to help. Alternatively leave your details here and we will call you back.