Buying your first home is a big step and very exciting. You find a home that you can afford, has the features you want and is in the location you love. But there is talk about a damp problem, or maybe you have been recommended to have the house checked for damp. Here are the key things you need to know about damp and your potential new home.
What causes damp?
Damp can be caused by several different things and the cause leads to the name given to the damp problem. For example, there are three main ones – condensation, rising damp and penetrating damp. These damp problems can lead to more severe conditions such as wet or dry rot or woodworm infestations.
Condensation is by far the most common type of damp and this is where the home has too much moisture inside and not enough ventilation to the outside. Showers and baths, cooking and washing machines can all add moisture to the air and if there’s not the right type of ventilation, this gets trapped inside the house. The moist air hits the cold walls, moisture is released and leads to damp problems.
Rising damp comes when there is a lack of a damp proof course or the existing one has failed. Water is naturally absorbed through bricks and if there isn’t a DPC to stop this, it will keep going until it reaches the inner surfaces of the house. This leads to a range of damp associated problems.
Penetrating damp tends to take place up high when there is a broken roof tile, a crack in brickwork or another weak spot. Water continuously sneaks in and causes damage that also leads to damp problems. This can also happen with underground areas such as basements when the walls don’t have the right protection and water can absorb through the brickwork into the main areas of the house.
Recognise the signs of damp
Each damp problem can have its own signs to stop while there are other signs that overlap and occur regardless of the type of damp. Spotting these signs and identifying the cause is the primary steps a first-time buyer needs to take.
Some of the signs of damp include:
Black mould growing on walls
Damp, musty smell in rooms
Walls or floors that feel wet when you touch them
Water stained or peeling wallpaper
Water stains or dark patches on plastered walls
Fungus growing on timbers (wet or dry rot)
What to do about damp
As a first time buyer, there are steps to be followed to handle the damp problem and these should be done as quickly as possible to avoid the condition becoming worse.
Identify the cause of damp
To combat damp, you need to know what type and what is the cause. A damp survey is often the best way to do this as it involves a damp expert checking the house and looking into the problems. They can tell you where the water is gaining access or if condensation is the issue.
Stop the water access
If water is getting into the property or building up due to a lack of ventilation, the next step is to combat this. Without solving the problem that allows the damp to be, you can’t clear away the problem. This might mean increasing ventilation, fixing roof tiles or replacing the damp proof course.
Remove traces of damp
Once the cause of the damp has been dealt with, the next step is to remove the damp and the conditions connected with it. This will mean drying out walls, removing wet wallpaper and cleaning away black mould problems. Damp-proof paints are often used to protect the walls once the water levels have been reduced and to stop mould growing again.
Redecorate and monitor
Once measures have been taken to stop the problem and remove the damp symptoms, then the house is ready to be redecorated. Once this is done, it is always worth monitoring the area to ensure the problem doesn’t reoccur, especially if it was something like condensation.
Consider a dehumidifier
Over the short term to help ensure those moisture levels stay under control, a dehumidifier can be a good idea to help. This removes moisture from the air and stops things like black mould from growing again. You can often hire these for a set time rather than needing to buy one.
Contact a specialist about damp proofing
Whether the problem is a slight spot of mould or a woodworm infestation, you should always have an expert at your side during the damp process. They can help find the cause of the problem, the best solution and ensure the right treatments are used to stop it occurring again.