Mythbusting: The Damp Edition
Our team of damp specialists work all over London and are fully trained to spot all kinds of established and would-be damp issues. Damp is actually one of the most common problems facing homes and businesses across the UK. This is especially the case in hotspots like London, thanks to the capital’s vast array of older and damp-prone buildings. Combined with the unusually soggy weather we see – regardless of the season or the forecast – it makes sense that damp is so commonplace.
However, as common as it is, the vast majority of us are confused by the multitude of myths and misunderstandings surrounding damp, condensation and associated issues. So, we thought it would be a good idea to clear up some of the biggest misconceptions with a quick overview of what damp is and what it isn’t.
When Damp Is Damp
Damp sounds pretty straightforward; there’s water or moisture where there shouldn’t be. No liquid: no damp. However, there are two very distinct types of damp, each with their own characteristics and causes. It is worth noting that while they are not one and the same, in some cases, both types can be present.
It is rare to have rising damp in the truest sense of the word. As the name suggests, this damp works from the ground up as groundwater is soaked up through walls and floors, sometimes reaching as high as a metre up.
The reason that this particular type of damp is so rare is in part due to the mandatory use of damp-proof course in buildings. A requirement since the mid-19th century, this membrane is in place to stop excessive water causing damage, but if it is not effective – either due to ageing or damage – the water can seep through. Conversely, a lack of drainage or instances where your property is lower than the ground outside will lead to rising damp.
To spot rising damp, look for damage at lower levels such as skirting boards. You may also find flaked plaster and peeling paint and wallpaper. There may also be visible wet patches and white residue where the salt in the groundwater crystallises. Where floors are the problem area, you may see damp patches and flooring that lifts up.
Another example of damp doing what it says on the tin; this is damp that penetrates, usually as a result of water leaking and coming through walls. It can sometimes spread to the ceiling, but will usually fan out horizontally along one level, rather than vertically as with rising damp.
Unlike condensation, which is caused by ventilation issues, or rising damp which is caused by groundwater getting through a worn membrane, penetrating damp is usually indicative of structural issues such as faulty roofing, cracked walls and leaky plumbing.
Penetrating damp is usually easily identified during wet weather as affected areas darken with damp patches.
When Damp isn’t Damp
Condensation is common, but it is not damp. It occurs in poorly ventilated areas, such as those created by modern energy-saving techniques like airtight double glazing, or where there is a big enough difference between internal and external temperatures, as with centrally heated homes full of warm moist air that hits cold walls and condenses.
Identifiable by water droplets on windows and walls, dark mould on glass and walls, or blue-green mould on wooden and leather surfaces; all typical indicators along with an unpleasant musty odour and in some extreme cases, damage to plaster and decaying wooden window frames.
When Damp Needs Sorting Out
If you’re suffering from damp or issues you suspect could be related to damp, you most certainly aren’t alone. That is why our team of skilled experts are on hand to assess the situation, identify the root cause and address the issue with appropriate damp proofing solutions, so get in touch with our expert team today.