Preventing Damp Condensation.
Damp and condensation can damage walls, plaster, decorations, and cause wood rot within wooden areas of your property. Most conventional buildings and contents home insurance policies do not cover for damage caused by damp and condensation. With this in mind it is sensible for homeowners to seek out any areas of the property that have the symptoms of damp and condensation as well as identify the root source of the problem.
Damp that is caused by external moisture entering the property and is usually related to the age of the property and lack of regular maintenance. It can usually be identified by mould appearing on walls or ceilings adjacent to the external wall of the property. Over time stormy rain and wind lashes water against areas of the house where cracks may have appeared and have gradually allowed moisture to enter the interior. These areas include loose roof tiles or broken lead flashing connecting the chimney to the joins in the roof. In addition look for crumbling brickwork and pointing that has been eroded over time. Cracks are also quite common in the junction area between two pitched roofs of a home. Also where guttering has become blocked or down pipes cracked, water can escape down an outside wall exposing that wall to the risk of penetrating damp.
Water can also enter a property through cracks in the rendering or cracks caused by minor movements in the roof bearing timbers. Sometimes modern houses are built quickly and builders will load large amounts of bricks on one side of the upper area of the roof as it is being constructed. This in turn can cause the timbers to warp and cracks appear years down the line in the upper areas of the property. Modern properties also have a gaps underneath the fascia area of the roof which are sometimes not properly constructed or the mortar has flaked away, or the weatherboard has rotted away exposing driving rain into the roof timbers and causing wet trot and mould. This does not mean that damp will automatically appear on the other side of the wall inside the property. Water can travel along almost flat surfaces to the other side of the house before entering exposed or cracked elements inside the property. Therefore it is sensible to identify the entry point of the water and concentrate on repairing the exposed external element before rectifying the damage caused by moisture that has got into the property.
Rising damp is caused by water being soaked up like a sponge through the walls and floors of a property. It usually only appears in the first metre or so above the ground level. Structural movement or damage to a very old damp proof course can lead to rising damp on the inside walls around the skirting board area. Sometimes very old houses are literally built on soil as it’s base and as a result soil and plants can grow inside the cavity walls causing damp to enter the property. To prevent or rectify this problem the main solution is to install a damp proof course with a quality damp proof membrane.
For older properties inserting air bricks beneath the damp proof course to provide additional ventilation beneath floorboards assists in preventing rising damp. Another solution is to dig a small trench adjacent to the house and fill it with gravel to assist rainwater to drain away more quickly. If cavity walls have loose soil or possible plant growth inside the cavity a couple of outer wall bricks will need to be removed close to the area. This provides access to the cavity and enables homeowners to apply water repellent to affected are once the debris has been cleared. The outer brick can then be replaced. For interior damage walls may need to be re-plastered following a long period of drying out. Mould killer can be used for general damp and condensation problems in bathroom areas and this can either come in a liquid or spray form depending upon the severity of the damage.
Installing a new damp proof membrane is one solution to overcoming damp and condensation. However this major job is best left to professional builders not to amateur DIY’ers. It will mean taking out and relaying floor slabs and may involve adding moisture curing urethane to the floor. Rubberised bitumen emulsion could also be applied.
In many modern properties condensation occurs when warm moist air is exposed to a cold surface. Many flats and apartments have been poorly designed without windows inside the bathroom. This means that over time hot showers can create a condensation inside the bathroom. Condensation can also occur in kitchen areas where inadequate ventilation means that moist heat cannot escape fast enough and forms upon walls. When extractor fans fail and homeowners do not repair them condensation build-up can become particularly acute.
As builders construct more and more blocks of flats in previously reclaimed agricultural or flooded areas, the problem of changing groundwater levels is becoming more acute. For large cities (where crumbling sewage systems are struggling to cope with additional run -off caused by changing freak weather patterns and concrete driveways), preventing damp and condensation is going to become more and more of a problem for inner-city homeowners.