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Various ways in which damp can impact your home

It’s a topic no homeowner wants to have to worry about, but damp is a pervasive issue that can affect all types of property. 

How can damp occur?
One of the most common causes behind dampness is condensation, which occurs when moisture in the air condenses onto cold surfaces, forming visible water droplets. If a property lacks adequate heating and ventilation, this moisture can foster the growth of harmful moulds over time, posing health risks.

Historically, before the advent of uPVC double glazing and modern insulation techniques that help improve energy efficiency of our homes, older houses relied somewhat on draftiness to expel moisture. This draftiness encompassed open fireplaces, draft-prone windows and doors, the absence of central heating, and single glazing (with condensation on glass actually helping dehumidify the air). 

Lifestyle factors also played a role, as people today wash more frequently, use baths and showers more often, launder clothes and dry them indoors, cook more meals, and spend extended periods at home, especially with the rise of remote work. As technology, knowledge, and energy efficiency priorities have advanced, we now inhabit properties that are more energy-efficient but, in many cases, more susceptible to condensation due to reduced ventilation.

As a result, condensation issues appear to be on the rise, particularly in older properties retrofitted with modern amenities like central heating, double glazing, and insulation. 

What impact can damp have?
Aside from the health concerns associated with mould spores, dampness can inflict severe damage on wall and floor finishes and can also cause internal timbers to rot. Rot comes in two forms: dry rot and wet rot, both of which, if unchecked, can cause significant damage.

Dampness can infiltrate your home via various means, sometimes not immediately obvious, and can even result from a combination of factors. If you or a surveyor detects dampness in a property, it's vital to first assess the extent of the issue and trace its source. 

In older solid stone or brick constructed properties, dampness is more prevalent because these houses were often constructed before the introduction of damp-proof courses, and they lack the cavities found in more modern homes (which allow water to run down the inner side of the outer leaf and away through weep holes). 

Consequently, in older houses, damp can enter through various avenues, including but not limited to water running down walls due to damaged guttering, poor drainage, deteriorated mortar pointing, or neglected external wall render. 

Modern properties are less susceptible, but dampness can still occur through improperly installed cavity insulation, subpar workmanship leading to bridging of cavities above the damp-proof course, ingress around window and door frames or due to high external ground levels that breach the damp-proof course. Additionally, internal leaking pipes, concealed behind walls or trunking, can commonly cause damp issues.

So how can I prevent damp?
The key is to ensure your property remains damp-free, taking action when necessary. If the source is readily apparent, such as a leaky gutter, a straightforward solution may suffice. Yet, in complex cases—especially in older homes with excessive dampness —a surveyor's expertise is invaluable. 

Surveyors are trained to test and analyse damp, identify its causes, and provide guidance on the next steps. Depending on factors like property type, the extent of the damp, and underlying causes, they may recommend preventive measures or, in severe cases, refer you to a specialist damp treatment company for comprehensive investigations and remedial work.

Speak to us today if you’re concerned about a damp problem at your property. 

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