With the climate in the UK, knowing how to solve damp problems in houses can be a useful skill to have.
As we live in a relatively wet climate, problems caused by excessive moisture are relatively common in UK property.
If you own or are considering buying a property with damp issues, knowing to how to solve damp issues in houses can be very important. After all, if damp is left untreated it can cause serious structural issues.
So, let’s take a look at what damp is and how you can prevent and treat it…
What Are The Causes Of Damp In Houses?
Firstly, what actually causes damp in the first place? In short, damp is caused by excessive moisture, be it in the air or through water working its way where it’s not meant to be.
Some of the common caused of damp in houses are:
- Poor ventilation
- Burst pipes
- Blocked or broken guttering
- Leaky roofs or windows
- Rising moisture from the floor
Of course, there are other potential causes too but the vast majority of cases will be due to one of these things.
How To Identify Damp Problems
The first thing you may notice when walking into a property with serious damp or mould issues is the smell.
Damp has quite a distinctive, almost earthy and musty kind of smell.
However, you’ll only smell it if the damp is already quite bad, thankfully, most damp is also easy to identify visually.
Dark mould spots on walls are a dead giveaway, as are yellowish stains. In fact, anything that looks like water marks on a wall could well be damp.
If the wallpaper or paint has become crinkled, that’s another potential indication of damp.
Types Of Damp To Look Out For
The three most common types of damp that affect UK properties are penetrating damp, rising damp, and condensation.
Let’s take a look at each one in turn…
This is caused by water working its way through walls or via a leaky roof or window.
Usually, the damp will appear around the same point as the water is finding it’s way into the building.
Penetrating damp is almost always caused by poor maintenance such as leaking guttering, blocked drains, or even cracked brickwork.
As modern properties are built with a protective layer of non-porous ‘blue’ bricks and/or damp proofing, rising damp tends to only affect older properties.
As normal bricks are porous, and therefore let water soak through, in wet conditions, it’s possible for damp to travel through and up a wall.
This is what gives the name ‘rising’ damp, as it the damp starts at ground level and slowly soaks upwards, seemingly defying gravity!
Damp problems linked to condensation are more common in the winter in rooms where there’s more moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
It occurs when the moisture in the air makes contact with a cold wall and condenses back to water.
Over time, the moist conditions can lead to damp and mould problems.
What Illnesses Can You Get From Damp?
If damp is left untreated, it isn’t just an issue for your property. It can cause health issues too.
The most common illnesses caused by damp are linked to the respiratory system.
Regular exposure to damp and mould can lead to respiratory infections, asthma, and allergies. Your immune system can even be affected by damp.
That’s why it’s important to always treat damp as quickly as possible after identifying it.
How To Solve Damp Problems
Your first step is to establish what type of damp you have and what the cause of it is.
If you have penetrating damp, it can usually be resolved simply with good maintenance. That means unblocking guttering, repairing leaks, repointing walls and so on.
If you are suffering from rising damp you’ll need to consult with a damp expert and look at getting a damp proof membrane or other damp proof course applied to your walls.
If your issue is more to do with condensation a dehumidifier may at least help to provide a temporary fix. However, longer term you’ll need to look at adding some kind of ventilation to solve the damp problems.
Just remember, damp is a condition that’s only likely to get worse. Therefore, it’s best not to leave it untreated, it’s unlikely to go away on its own.
The sooner you address the issue, the better. Keep in mind though that you’ll need to repair the source of the problem before you fix any cosmetic damage.
The age and structure of your building may also affect how you approach removing damp. This is especially true if you have damp in a listed building.
How To Treat Damp Walls Internally
Once you have found the source of your damp problems and repaired the problem to prevent further damage, you’ll need to repair the cosmetic damage caused to the internal walls.
Be aware though, this isn’t simply a case of painting over the damage straight away.
If you do that, you’ll likely find the paint doesn’t stick to the area that was affected by damp very well.
Instead, you’ll have to first thoroughly clean any mould or residue from the affected area using soapy water.
You may also need to carefully sand down the area to get a nice flat finish again.
Then, leave the area to dry out completely (note that this could take weeks or even months!). Keeping the room nice and warm will help speed up the process.
Only once all residue has been removed and the wall has dried out should you attempt to repaint or wallpaper over the affected area.
For walls that have been badly affected by damp, it may be necessary to completely replaster the wall.
So, there we have it, a quick guide on how to solve damp issues in houses that should see you through most damp issues you encounter.
If the risk of water entering your property is high, you may also be interested in our tips on how to protect your property from flooding.