Many people find themselves confronted with damp in their homes at one stage or another. The first indication of a problem can often be damp patches on walls, not to mention the presence of mould.
The first step to discovering how to deal with damp is figuring out which type of damp you have. We’ve all heard about rising damp, but condensation and penetrating damp are just as likely (if not more so) to occur. Here we’ll learn about all three and discover what causes rising damp as well as the other two common forms of damp.
Damp walls are a pain as your décor can easily and quickly be ruined. Condensation can cause your walls to become damp, especially around windows, although it can just as easily happen elsewhere.
When learning how to deal with damp you will realise that condensation occurs more commonly in the winter months. The walls get colder and the air in the room is warmer, thus causing condensation to form. If your windows are old or single-glazed they will be more prone to condensation. Double-glazing usually resolves the problem.
Another form of damp is penetrating damp. In contrast to condensation, which is caused inside the home, penetrating damp begins outside the home and moves through the walls (hence the name). This will occur when there is a problem outside the property that is allowing the damp to move through the walls or ceilings.
In order to treat damp in this instance, you will have to determine what is causing the damp to come in. In some cases it will be very obvious what the problem is. For instance, a damp patch near the ceiling upstairs may turn out to be caused by faulty guttering. This fails to allow water from the roof to flow into the guttering and away from the walls. Instead, it flows down the walls, hence allowing the damp to penetrate into the building.
In recent years, with the sharp increase in the number of households having cavity wall insulation (mostly as a result of energy efficiency government grants becoming available), faulty cavity insulation has become a major issue, allowing moisture that has penetrated the outer walls to travel through the cavity into the internal walls. If you’ve had your cavity insulated and think that this may be the cause of your damp, then it’s possibly you may have to have the insulation removed.
Once the problem causing the damp is resolved, you should notice a significant improvement. Over time the signs of damp will disappear as the walls dry out. You may also want to invest in a good damp proof paint for external walls if you identify poor upkeep as the source of the problem. This type of paint is waterproof so it doesn’t matter how much it rains – the paint will prevent it from seeping into your walls.
Rising damp is also appropriately-named as it refers to the damp rising up through the fabric of a building. This happens in many areas so it is not unusual; however most modern buildings will have a damp-proof course to prevent it from rising above a certain level. It is usually laid during the construction process; however some older buildings may have it put in long after they were built. You will recognise this on many properties as a series of holes drilled into the walls that are then filled with a damp-proofing material. This rising damp treatment should prevent the damp from getting any worse.
You’ll be able to spot rising damp as it tends to cause damage low down in the downstairs rooms. Your skirting boards may suffer and rot for example, and this is unlikely to happen in just one place. The décor on the lower portions of the walls may also be affected as the damp rises up the walls.
As you can see, choosing the right damp treatment depends on identifying the source and type of the damp from the start. Only then can you hope to treat it effectively. You can take the DIY route with some solutions – for example if you find you have penetrating damp due to a gap between a window and the wall next to it, you can probably fill this yourself. However if you discover the flashing on your roof has caused water to penetrate into your home, you’ll likely want to hire a roofer to resolve it.
Damp can have a profound effect on your home. It is always imperative to deal with it as soon as you possibly can, to ensure the damp doesn’t get a chance to worsen. In some instances – and particularly with rising damp – it is best to get some quotes from damp specialists. They will be able to identify the problem and provide the best solution for you and your home.
Once the damp is dealt with and the walls have dried out, you can confidently redecorate to get your home back to normal.