What is damp?
Damp occurs when moisture or water builds up within the structure of a building – often in the floor, walls or the ceiling. It can occur for a huge number of reasons, often related to poor building quality and it has become a serious problem in the UK, reducing the quality of living conditions in many households across the country.
Aside from causing physical damage to the upholstery and aesthetics of a property, damp can also cause structural problems as well as having health implications for those who live with severe cases. That’s why it can be so important to have a damp survey completed on your property if you’re worried about damp.
Do you need a damp survey?
Whenever you are concerned about the potential of damp in a property, you should have a survey carried out as soon as possible. This is the only way to understand the nature of the problem and how it can be solved. If you have a problem with damp it is very unlikely that it will fix itself, it will simply get worse as time goes on.
Getting in a chartered surveyor to assess the situation and provide you with a damp survey could end up saving you a lot of money in the long term as you may be able to take preventative steps before the problem becomes much worse. If you leave it and the damp problem spreads it could ultimately be far more costly and challenging to deal with.
Kinds of damp
There are three types of damp that account for the majority of damp cases in the UK – here’s our guide to identifying and understanding the causes of each:
Rising damp is one of the most feared forms of damp. It happens when water on the ground rises up through a wall or floor. You might notice the gradual change to parts of the floor and wall starting with the floorboards and then the skirting board. It’s also likely that you’ll see damp patches appearing in the affected areas.
Penetrating damp occurs when water and moisture is able to leak through the walls. This could be due to cracks in the masonry or through poor build quality. This can generally be identified with small patches of damp on their own. This form of damp is most commonly found in older buildings.
This is the most common kind of damp in the UK. It pops up regularly in the autumn and winter when there is more likely to be an imbalance in the air temperature inside and outside the home. You may find condensation on windows first of all but it becomes a problem when you can start to see droplets on the wall or damage to plaster.
At first, the damage caused by damp will only be minor aesthetic changes such as the blistering of plaster or dampening of the paint. However, as time goes on things can get significantly worse as it can cause structural damage. Brickwork, timber and even rusting steel and iron can begin to weaken the structural integrity of the property.
This can become especially problematic in older buildings – especially if they are listed. Listed buildings are generally required to be repaired in the same style and using the same materials as those that were previously used.
Potential health risks
You might not be aware that there are health risks associated with living in a property that has a problem with damp. Some of the most common problems include asthma as well as other lung and respiratory issues. If there is low air quality it can make it harder for lungs to work properly and this can irritate them. The mould from the damp spores also has the potential to cause a range of infections. Unfortunately it’s also true that those sorts of damp conditions are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
What treatments are available?
Depending on the form of damp you have, there are different treatments available. It every scenario, however, it is vital that you have a damp survey carried out by experienced professionals. If the issue is misdiagnosed you could potentially make the situation worse when you attempt to fix it. Get expert advice on the problem and you will then be able to take the correct steps to deal with it.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with Hutton & Rostron.