Damp Problems

What are the causes of damp problems?

Damp problems can result from a variety of causes. Perhaps the best known of these is rising damp. This is where groundwater rises up through the masonry of a building by the process of capillary action. The remedy for this is an effective damp proof course or damp proof membrane. Modern houses have these fitted at the time of construction but in some older properties they may be either missing, or have become cracked and broken with time allowing the water to pass into the walls.

damp-patch.jpgPenetrating damp occurs when there has been some sort of structural failure or damage to your property, although it may also occur as the result of damage or building work to an adjacent property. In cases of penetrating damp, moisture penetrates the masonry of a building directly as opposed to rising damp where it is only groundwater rising from the foundations that causes the problem. A common cause of penetrating damp might be a blocked drain or gutter. Cracks in rendering or pebble dashing may also cause it.

Condensation is a major cause of damp, and one that is often avoidable. Condensation occurs when warm moist air meets cold surfaces. In a domestic situation this occurs all the time, for example when you are cooking a meal and the windows steam up. One of the main causes of condensation problems is ineffective ventilation. If the moisture laden air cannot escape the building it will settle on the walls and surfaces, leading to damp problems. Condensation is often a problem in buildings that are not constantly occupied as a result of the heating being turned off for periods of time.

What are the symptoms of damp problems?

rising_damp_2_246.jpgDespite their many causes, the symptoms of damp can appear infuriatingly similar to the untrained eye, infuriating because the remedies for different kinds of damp are very different. Damp stains on the wall and peeling wallpaper can be the first visible symptoms of dampness, although by this stage you may have already noticed a smell. If the damp patches appear all over the wall, or anywhere other than around the base, it is a fair bet that the cause is not rising damp. With rising damp the symptoms will be obviously emanating from ground level and often a tide mark will form in a line along the bottom of the wall.

Other symptoms of damp problems can be flaking and blistering paintwork, crumbling plaster and spongy rotting woodwork. Also look out for mould growth in the corners of the room and on other surfaces. Although mould is common with all forms of damp it is particularly associated with condensation problems. Sometimes soft furnishings such as curtains and upholstery will feel damp and clammy to the touch, again this is mostly associated with condensation, but not exclusively.

damptester.jpgIf left untreated damp problems will eventually start to damage the masonry of the building itself leading to serious structural damage which may be dangerous and expensive to repair or replace. If you have any of the above symptoms in your property contact a qualified damp proof specialist. The best ones will provide you with a free survey of your problem and advise you on any remedial measures that need to be undertaken.




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