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How to prevent, monitor and treat damp

Date posted: 19 September 2012

Damp can be one of the most frustrating and damaging problems that can occur in a property, especially if the area is already predisposed to minor flooding or other water problems. There are several different ways that you can treat damp once it is there, but there are also several ways to keep an eye on damp so that you know if it is developing and can treat it before it starts to penetrate the property. 

One of the best ways to do this is with a damp meter since it allows you to see that a problem is arising. The first sign of damp is usually condensation because condensation releases moisture which is what often causes damp to occur. 

Therefore, if you want to avoid serious damp problems, you will want to make sure that you invest in a damp meter that will read condensation levels in your home as well. 

If you continue to have a problem with condensation, you may want to consider hiring an expert to come into your home and explore the situation in great detail so that you get professional advice about how to curb the problem. 

Many times merely increasing or improving your ventilation and heating system will quickly help to take care of cold spots; which is where condensation usually occurs. 

Using a ladder to place a better extractor fan into a bathroom or kitchen area is another great way to improve ventilation without spending too much. Companies such as Envirovent specialise in condensation issues and offer more powerful fans which can prevent these problems occurring. A giveaway sign to know that you are suffering from problems in the bathroom would be the sign of black mould which can be removed with diluted bleach before washing off.

A lot of the time damp can be found along the ground level of walls due to problems or defects with the physical damp proofing of the walls or the walls themselves. 

A number of reasons can cause this from leaking pipes or water ingress from other areas to a breakdown in the damp proofing but a thorough investigation is essential to identify the cause correctly.

How old is the house with the damp problems?

This is a fundamental question because houses followed different building rules over different periods and therefore many old houses don't have the same damp proofing as modern buildings do so it's quite possible these may now be failing in some shape or form.

For instance, if you live in a Victorian house, then it's quite possible (depending on the year it was built)  that you don't have any physical damp proof course (DPC) or air bricks. DPC was only made compulsory in London building in 1875, and airbricks only became the norm in late Victorian buildings. 

Identifying things like this would mean that adequate sub ventilation would need to be installed to help improve the airflow under the floors to prevent damp to the joists or there is the risk wet & dry rot and damage to the walls. 

For properties with a DPC fitted, you need to ensure that is not failing. Many times the damp proof course merely is ‘bridged’ due to the fact that soil or pathways are too close to the wall.  In this case, if your damp meter shows a problem exists here you can just remove the soil from the side of the wall allowing the damp course to work properly again and prevent water from seeping into your home above it.

Once damp start to occur within a home you need to check all areas of the house to see where it is coming from.  

These are some of the are areas worth investigating :

  • You will want to look over the downpipes, gutters, window frames, door frames where the damp is forming, to isolate the problem.  
  • Overflowing gutters is a common cause because it creates an excessive amount of water travelling to an individual area which is then not drained away quick enough causing problems. 
  • Broken steps or cracks in the masonry outside can cause water ingress so these need to be looked at as well especially in old buildings. 
    • If you are sealing cracks in steps, then can get consider water repellants such as Thomson waterproofer or for better prevention, then ash felting the steps will totally seal them. If you do this then make sure you also create an upstand on the external wall so it's entirely sealed.
    • This way you can prevent future damp from coming into a home.  In addition, if the brickwork is becoming porous in your home you may want to think about applying exterior waterproofing fluid around the home to help keep water out.

For a full range of damp proofing tools including dehumidifiers and drying equipment for hire, visit Best at hire, your UK local tool hire centre.

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