Damp is the most common problem to affect properties, especially older ones where the damp proofing isn’t to the modern standard. While small mould patches or a little extra moisture in the home might not seem like a big problem, damp is an issue that can develop behind the scenes and lead to other serious conditions including wet, dry rot and woodworm infestation.
Causes of damp
There are several causes of damp that can allow these conditions to get a foothold in your home so understanding how damp can be caused is important. Identifying potential problems and having an expert such as Tapco HomeDry deal with them, is important, before they weaken the structure of your home.
Condensation is by far the most common form of damp in a home and is often due to our own actions. We add double glazed windows and doors to increase the energy efficiency of our homes, but forget to include the right amount of ventilation. Condensation happens when warm moist air, produced by us, comes into contact with a cold wall surface and condenses. Classic signs include misted windows, water droplets on sills or walls wet to the touch.
Rising damp in buildings is a natural process whereby water from the ground slowly rises up the brickwork, by capillary action, above the ground level. In newer properties, a damp proofing course will stop this process and prevent it causing a problem. But if the damp proof course is old and fails, or is missing entirely, then the damp if free to rise up through the brickwork and into the internal surfaces of the home.
Penetrating damp from rain takes place when parts of the building are defective, such as when a roof leaks or guttering malfunctions. This allows water to saturate the walls into the property and in a short time, stain and damage the internal structure.
Lateral damp penetration is another common cause of damage and occurs when the walls of the building have been constructed below ground and are earth retaining. Ground water is forced through the wall under hydrostatic pressure and can cause the walls to turn black and become very wet.
Conditions caused by damp
While understanding the causes of damp may be something not all homeowners are able to deal with, spotting the signs or conditions associated with damp, is much easier to. Damp conditions can lead to serious damage to the structure of the house because many of them affect the timbers, which in older properties can form 75% of the structure and are an integral part of the building.
Wet rot may sound the more serious of the two main wood rot conditions to affect a building but it isn’t, that title belongs to dry rot. However it is the most common and affects very damp or wet wood and is sometimes accompanied by black strands growing on timber and walls (Cellar fungus), as well as breaking down the wood into fibres and making it feel soft and spongy. Often wood will darken in colour, lose its strength and be easy to crumble and collapse.
Dry rot is by far the most dangerous damp related timber rot condition because true dry rot is a unique fungi that can spread across wood and masonry searching for more food, wood.. This means it can attack any part of your house, even on different levels and even grow through the wall to your neighbours property. Dry rot develops when a moisture content is above 20% and quickly attacks underfloor areas and timber where the ventilation is poor. A mushroom like fungal ‘pancake’ (Fruiting body) growth will often appear together with white strands (mycelium) that is searching for more wood, leaving it dry with cuboidal cracking, which crumbles when touched.The growth of this fundus is rapid and urgent remedial work and treatment is required.
As well as these problems, high moisture content and damp can lead to other conditions such as. Infestation by species of woodworm. This is an infestation by any number of wood-boring beetles and insects that eat the wood of your house and need specialist insecticidal treatment to deal with. If left for any length of time they can also lead to progressive weakening of the structural timber of your home.
What to do
If you think you have any of these conditions or have noticed signs of damp in your home, contact Tapco HomeDry without delay. We will conduct a thorough survey on your home and recommend the right method of remedial work to get your property sound and dry.