The most common cause of damage to any property is Damp. There are four major causes of damp, Rain Penetration, due to poor maintenance, Rising Damp, usually to older properties where the existing damp proof course has partially broken down, Lateral Damp Penetration, to walls that are constructed below the external ground level and Condensation caused by high humidity usually created by lack of ventilation and the occupants lifestyle. All can lead to costly damage, timber decay and health problems.
For timber to rot it needs a moisture content of over 20% so as soon as it gets wet it is danger. This is natures way of tidying up. A tree falls over, it becomes wet and then it’s attacked by millions of spores and insects that are in the air constantly. Without them doing their job we wouldn’t be here! They don’t know the timber in your house isn’t a fallen tree, they find a piece of wet wood and start to do what they are here to do, tidying up. This is why it is very important that your property is kept dry because without moisture timber decay can’t occur.
Rain penetration, due to poor maintenance, is by far the most common cause of wood rotting fungi because when it rains the internal timber gets wet and when it stops the timber dries slightly. This creates ideal conditions for the most insidious of wood rot, Dry Rot Fungus (Serpula lacrymans). Eradicating Dry Rot can cost thousands of pounds but you will have little choice because it will just keep spreading until eventually the property becomes unsafe to live in.
Rising damp, if left untreated, can cause timber decay to the flooring timbers and joinery, degrade plaster and increase the humidity. It is pointless spending good money decorating and fitting your new kitchen until you have eliminated the damp because they can become affected and have to be removed again and in some cases replaced.
Lateral damp is penetrating damp which occurs to walls built below ground level. Damp penetrates the wall due to hydroscopic pressure and can only be prevented by applying an impervious layer of ‘damp proofing’ material to the inner surface of the wall (Tanking) or by allowing the damp in and controlling where it goes with a ‘Cavity Drain Membrane’ Neither of these damp proofing methods should ever be carried out by anyone other than a qualified specialist.
Condensation is caused when warmer air reaches a colder surface and condenses. It has become far more common these days because of our life styles, insulation methods which restrict ventilation and a lack of consistent warm temperature, due to high energy bills. The simplest way to control humidity is to change how we do things. When we cook, boil a kettle, bath or shower, open a window to extract the moisture. When possible constantly keep a window open slightly and don’t dry washing in the house. It is us that create humidity and it us that have to extract it. Condensation also brings with it Black Mould Fungus (Aspergilla spp) and Dust Mites which can affect your health. Solutions we use to control condensation are to install a Condensation Control Unit, Pacifier vents or Extractors but the solution should only be recommended and installed by qualified damp proofing company.
Whatever the damp problem it is very important to deal with it immediately because the longer you leave it the more damage it will cause. Never consider using a company who are not members of the Property Care Association (PCA) or TrustMark. Do it once .. do it right.