Keeping your Home free from damp

Keeping your Home free from Damp

With the winter months setting in it is often too cold to keep the windows open. This in turn can create issues within in the home. The lack of air movement, higher levels of moisture in the air from cooking and bathing and cold walls can lead to condensation levels increasing and mould growing. Not only can this be a eye sore, damage your decoration or create more costly issues to put right. it can also be damaging to your health. Keeping your Home free from damp may sound worrying. But simple fixes can help massively.

What are the types of damp in a home?

A number of different types of dampness that can effect a home. Usually, they are split between external ingress (water coming into the property or walls) and internal damp (moisture created within the property).

We’ll touch on a couple of the external causes of damp below, but our main focus will be on the most common of issues – internal condensation/mould staining and growth.

External Damp

External damp appears to be internal, as this is where you see the damage. However, it is caused by the issue of water creeping into brick work or walls and saturating the internal surface. It will come from a number of sources.

Rising damp happens when water is seeping into the brick work of the wall or getting into a cavity that may separate the external and internal walls of your home. The most common cause of this is a failed damp proof membrane. In older houses – pre 1950’s, this was a course of blue brick, used as they were more water resistant than normal brick. Over time they become more porous and water rise through them, into the brick above and you see dampness on the inside of your home.

Left untreated, the damp can erode the brickwork and create mould internally. You will often see your plasterwork, wall paper or paint bubble and peel off. You may also see staining in skirting board or the wood may become soft.

However, it is easily fixable. Chemicals can be injected into brickwork that creates a waterproof barrier stopping any further rise of moisture. In newer houses, either a plastic or similar material membrane is inserted between brick layers creating a permanent barrier to moisture.

Watch out for other sources of water coming into your home. Blocked or split guttering can let water into you roof space or walls. You will see damp patches in the corners of ceilings or along the join of where the wall meets the ceiling. Regular cleaning and clearing will stop this from happening.

Internal damp issues

Very often, people incorrectly diagnose damp issues in a house. Seeing a bit of mould on the wall doesn’t not mean that real damp has set in. But, left untreated it can lead to more troublesome issues.

Most internal damp/moisture issue is caused by living conditions. Too much warm moisture in the air cannot escape the rooms, sticks to a cold wall and doesn’t dry. Therefore, you get back mildew and mould. In the warmer months, it is rarely an issue. You have windows and doors open. Clothes are dried outside. You can air the bathroom easily. You might not cook as much on the hob. However, in the Winter months things change and keeping your home free from damp becomes more of a challenge.

With the cold outside and the advent of modern double glazing, homes are more airtight that ever. With a lower circulation of fresh air, colder walls and more warm moisture being created from bathing, cooking and even breathing (see the condensation on your windows in the morning – that’s you!). Moisture will cling to any cold surface and if not given the chance to dry off, will turn mouldy.

This can look unsightly, sometimes smell, cause damage to wallpaper or paint and above all else – cause health issues.

What can be done to stop or limit condensation?

So, to keep your home free from damp, firstly, spotting any moisture early on is important. Keep an eye on cold spots such as windows, corners of external facing walls. Remember, just breathing produces warm moist air!

You should aim at minimising the amount of moist air circulating the house. You can open windows or turn on an extractor fan but let it run even after you have finished in the shower. Try to avoid extreme temperature differences, i.e in the depths of winter, keep your home at a reasonable temperature inside all day. Use a dehumidifier to dry the air. This can also help in heating your home and dry air is much easier to heat than moist air is. Below are a few more hints –

  • Open your curtains in the daytime. Allow natural light and warmth to assist in keeping the temperature up in your home.
  • Air you home as often as possible. A cold house still needs airing.
  • Let bedding breath in the morning. A body produces a lot of heat and moisture over night.
  • Open a window, even if just for a little period of time.
  • Use Extractor fans where possible wen showering/bathing or cooking.
  • Maintain extractor fans regularly by cleaning them and removing fluff and dust.
  • Don’t dry clothes on radiators. Use clothes horses and try to open a window.
  • Avoid putting furniture directly against walls. It creates cold dark places for damp to hide and thrive!
  • Wipe condesation off windows early. It can avoid mould setting in.
  • Use your central heating as its meant to be used. Having a very cold room whilst the rest are warm will mean it attracts much more moisture.
  • Check that your washing machine and dryer are venting properly and warm wet air isn’t coming into the house.
  • Lag/insulate pipes. They can attract moisture and drip condensate onto walls or ceilings.
  • Close the bathroom or kitchen door when you are bathing or cooking.

Treating mould

If you do get mould growth then its best to clean it as soon as you see it. There are plenty of treatments in the market now but usually bleach can do the job. Just be careful what you are applying it to! You do want to make sure that you kill the mould spores as they can bury themselves into the paint or paper. If you plan to redecorate, you can buy base paint that will kill spores and add a protective layer. You can also buy mould resistant paint for bathrooms and kitchens, where air moisture tends to the highest.

Keeping you Home free from damp

Hopefully, that gives you a few ideas of what damp is and how to combat it. if you are ever unsure, there are plenty of specialist companies that can help you further. We advise that you take professional advice. We at Skilton & Hogg Estate Agents in Daventry & Rugby are always available to help. In the meantime, enjoy the festive period and we hope to be seeing you soon to help with all of your property needs.

Author – David Bruckert, Skilton & Hogg Estate Agents. This blog is opinion only and you should seek professional advice where necessary.

Other articles