In a lot of older buildings these days, we see a lot of damp and mould. Here we are going to try to give you some advice and tips on what you can do to reduce this.
Not only does damp make your walls and ceilings look nasty, you are also more likely to suffer with respiratory problems, infections, allergies or asthma. Damp and mould can also affect the immune system. People who are more likely to be affected with these problems are:
- Babies and children
- Elderly people
- Those that suffer existing skin problems, such as eczema
- Those with respiratory problems, such as allergies and asthma
- Those who have a weakened immune system, for example, those being treated with chemotherapy.
Rising damp affects buildings by moisture breaking through the damp protection (if fitted) at the bottom of the building, eventually saturating the brick and any other porous material until you start to see wet stains appearing on the inside. Usually rising damp only travels up the wall to a metre, but there has been cases where it has gone higher. If the damp protection is in good tact, its possible the outdoor ground level is higher than the damp course, therefore bridging above it.
Penetrating damp is the result of water infiltration through an external wall and into the property. This occurs either due to water entering through a defect in the building or when external brick or stone walls have degraded to the point where they become porous and allow water ingress to pass through the external wall into the property. This can appear at any height on an external wall of the building.
A leaking roof, gutter or even a pipe can cause severe damp in a building. Quite often a leak will go undetected until the damage is already done, which in most cases is either water pouring through somewhere or a big damp stain on a wall or ceiling. These are relatively easy to repair as once the leak is fixed, the damage can either be cut out and replaced or stain blocked and painted.
Condensation is the most common type of damp. It’s caused by a combination of excess moisture in the air and poor ventilation. It could start from something simple, such as steam from the kettle, running the hot water or cooking pasta on the hob. If treated properly, condensation can be remedied without it causing lasting damage.
The first sign of condensation is usually moisture drops on walls, mirrors or windows. These form when hot, moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces.
While these small droplets of water may not be troublesome right away, the effects of condensation can worsen over time, producing black mould and the beginnings of a damp smell.
If caught early, condensation mould can be easily treated at home using a cloth dipped in soapy water, or with an antibacterial spray that will kill the fungus. Remember to dry the area after you’ve cleared the mould.
To prevent condensation reoccurring, you might want to invest in better ventilation systems, such as extractor fans or dehumidifiers in particularly damp rooms.
If the problem is in a bathroom that has poor ventilation, there are also paints that have anti-mould properties mixed in with them that will massively help combat this.
When we survey a property, the first tool we use is our eyes. Quite often, we can spot damps and tell what sort it is just by looking. We then follow up our suspicions using specialist equipment which reads the walls or ceilings and produces a moisture reading. These readings range from below 200 for a dry wall to 999 for a very wet wall.
Moisture meters come in all different shapes and sizes and massively vary in price. The meter we use is able to produce 3 different types of readings:
- Direct 2 pin measurement – this checks the surface of the wall to see if the damp is caused by condensation or if it has penetrated right through from the outside.
- Search mode – Measures moisture beneath the surface without drilling holes using radio signals.
- Deep probe mode – These allow us to drill a long narrow hole and check the moisture content deep in a wall or floor.