Damp remains one of the most common problems in homes of all ages across the country. Dampness is caused by too much moisture in a space through one of a number of reasons and can lead to serious conditions such as dry and wet rot or the growth of black mould. So how do damp specialists go about diagnosing the causes of dampness in buildings?
The different types and causes of damp
The first step that damp specialists will use to diagnose any problems with damp is to look at the signs and causes of damp to identify what type is affecting the premises. There are three general types of damp that affect buildings:
- Condensation – this is when the water vapour normally produced in homes reaches a cooler surface and the water containing within it is released. If this happens too much, it causes a condensation problem
- Rising damp – this is the type of damp associated with a missing or malfunctioning damp proof course or DPC. The damp proofing is embedded in the brickwork of a home but if it doesn’t work properly, then water reaches interior spaces and causes damp
- Penetrating damp – this is where water penetrates the home due to damage to the weather proofing of the property. This can be a damaged roof tile or malfunctioning gutter for example and allows rain to penetrate the walls, causing damp
There are various tools that damp specialists use to diagnose the exact type of damp and also how far the problem has spread. Observation is one of the key tactics where inspections of timbers, walls and other areas of the house can show where problems are and what type of damp is causing them.
Moisture meters can be used to see how much moisture is present in building materials such as bricks. Other specialists measuring equipment might be used to take readings around the house such as temperature and humidity equipment, especially if condensation is believed to be the cause of the problem.
Signs of damp
Homeowners can always keep an eye open for signs of damp themselves and know when it is time to call the damp specialists or at least have a professional check. Some of the classic signs of one of the three damp problems include:
- Water on walls, furniture and windows – this is a sign of condensation as the warm moisture-filled air hits the cooler surfaces and releases the water.
- Black mould – this is a sign that the surface below is wetter than it should be and the mould has been able to grow.
- Tide marks on walls – this is a sign of rising damp and malfunctioning damp proofing where the water is being absorbed too high and is affecting the internal walls, leaving marks when it does evaporate.
- Peeling wallpaper – this can show that the room is either being exposed to damp inside the walls due to rising damp or the moisture levels are too high in the room due to condensation.
- Dark patches on walls or ceilings – this is often a sign that penetrating damp is at work and water is leaking in through a weak spot.
- Wet timbers – this can be a sign of condensation or penetrating damp.
- Fungal growth – spores, signs of the mushroom-like fruiting bodies and other symptoms can indicate damp related conditions such as dry or wet rot.
Dealing with damp
Once the process of diagnosing the problem is complete, then the damp expert can offer ideas as to what needs to be done to solve the problem.
With rising damp and damp proofing problems, often the action will involve repairing or replacing the DPC. This is often done with chemicals that injected into the bricks to make them impenetrable to water and therefore stop and rising damp.
With condensation, the ventilation of the house will often be examined to see why the situation is occurring. Steps might be including adding kitchen or bathrooms fans or air bricks to increase ventilation.
With penetrating damp, the cause of the water leaking in will be solved then steps can be taken to repair the damage including using damp proof plaster on walls to make them stronger and more waterproof in the future.