If you’re looking to expand the living space in your home but don’t want to give up garden space to an extension, you may have the option to expand downwards. Your cellar could hold incredibly untapped potential as an additional living space.
If your cellar is a damp and inhospitable space, you’ll need to think about taking steps to damp proof the space before you move forward with your conversion plans. Damp issues won’t be better without intervention, so you should address these before you invest any money in decor and furnishings.
What is damp?
Damp occurs when there is excess moisture in a space. Poor ventilation and leaks can lead to additional moisture in the air that will settle on the coldest surface. Cellar spaces are typically damp as they have poor ventilation and low levels of waterproofing against water ingress. If you don’t use your cellar for much more than storage, you’re unlikely to be bothered by the damp. But as soon as you decide you’d like to use this space, you’ll need to think about how to protect your cellar from damp.
Why are cellars prone to damp?
Damp can impact any part of your home, but the cellar is particularly at risk. There are a number of reasons that your cellar is more prone to damp issues. As the lowest point of your home, any leaks in your property will eventually settle in the cellar. These can go unnoticed for a long time, which can make the damp problem worse.
Your cellar is also typically colder than other parts of your home. This means that warm moist air from your home will move to colder areas and then settle on the coldest surfaces. The walls and floors of your cellar might not have high levels of insulation, so they will be naturally colder than other areas of your home.
And finally, while the rest of your property might be protected from rising damp using a damp-proof course, these methods don’t work as well for cellar spaces. Your foundations will be protected during the construction process, but these methods can fail over time. This can lead to hydrostatic pressure forcing moisture into your cellar space and causing damp issues.
What are the benefits of damp proofing?
There are many benefits to damp proofing your cellar, even if you don’t plan to use the space. Damp proofing your cellar can improve the air quality throughout the rest of your home. Damp can lead to mould and mildew that spread throughout your home and leads to a musty smell.
Another common benefit of damp proofing your cellar is that you’ll be able to use it for storage with confidence. Without this essential step, you run the risk of damaging your possessions with moisture, mould and mildew.
And finally, damp proofing your cellar will allow you to turn it into a functional space. This could increase the value of your home by adding an extra room or multiple rooms to your floor plan. You could use the space as a home office, home gym, cinema, or even a secondary living space. Rather than move home, you could increase the size (and value) of your existing property.
Identify the cause of the damp
The first step in damp proofing your cellar is to identify the cause of the damp. Common causes of damp include:
- Moisture ingress from the floor and walls
- Leaking pipework in your home
- Broken roof tiles or faulty rendering
- Broken drain pipes allowing water into your home
- Excess moisture and poor ventilation
Before you can damp proof your cellar, you need to know the root cause of the problem. If you aren’t sure where your damp problem is coming from, hire a professional to visit your home and carry out an inspection. They can use specialist tools to identify damp that is not visible to the naked eye, and this can be invaluable to diagnosing the issue.
Address moisture issues
Once you have found the cause of the damp, it’s time to address the excess moisture in your home. The most common method for damp proofing a cellar is known as tanking. While your home foundations will have been protected against water ingress when the property was built, you can also update these measures to stop moisture getting into your cellar space.
Rather than dig into the foundations around your home, we can use cellar damp proofing measures such as tanking to create an impermeable barrier between the moisture outside your property and the space inside. When moisture is no longer able to get through, you can then insulate and heat the space to help keep damp under control.
Once these measures are completed, you can then decorate the space and make it a functional living space. As the cellar is more prone to damp problems, it’s a good idea to have a dehumidifier in the space to address any moisture that arises from general use of the space.