Damp is one of the most problematic discoveries for a homeowner. It both visibly damaged plaster, wallpaper and joinery but also causes more sinister, hidden problems as well. Damp can make a room feel cold and unpleasant, as well as being unhealthy to live in. Once damp gets a grip, if it isn’t dealt with it can cause serious structural issues. The best thing that you can do if you discover damp is to treat it early to reduce the cost of treatments and minimise the severity of the problems it causes. The best way to establish the extent of the problem is to get a survey done by a trusted and experienced damp proof expert who will use a damp meter to measure surface damp. Here are some solutions to problems that your damp expert might uncover.
Lateral penetrating damp
Let’s start with the bad news. If your home is diagnosed with having lateral penetrating damp then this is a significant problem. This type of damp affects the internal surfaces of your walls and is caused by hydrostatic pressure which forces damp through the wall. It can be very damaging and potentially costly because it requires more than a simple damp proof course. To treat lateral penetrating damp, you will require a special waterproof system called ‘tanking’ or cavity drain membrane (CDM). To have a wall tanked, damp wall plaster will be removed and a waterproof system applied. CDM uses a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) which is fixed into place to create a membrane. The water behind the membrane is then diverted away from the wall to a more appropriate drainage point. To complete the job, the wall is dry lined or plastered.
Most people are familiar with the concept of rising damp. This is damp which rises up through bricks and plaster and can be identified by peeling wallpaper at the bottom of walls or damaged plaster which is damp and cold to touch. If rising damp is found in your home then it needs to be dealt with quickly to stop the damp in its tracks. Treatment involves removal of the damp plaster and a new damp proof course, which involves injecting a special solution into the base of the wall and then having the walls re-plastered.
Condensation occurs when warm moist air comes into contact with cold walls or windows. This is a common problem in bathrooms and is worse during spells of cold weather. It can produce black spot mould fungus which is harmful to both the property and the health of its inhabitants. Good ways of identifying problem condensation is if you have misted windows or black / green mould. This can be controlled with improved ventilation and temperature balance. You may also wish to consider insulating cold walls, using extractor fans, vents or a condensation control unit.
Rain penetration and water damage
Rain can get into properties via leaky roofs and poor maintenance of pointing and rendering. You may notice damp spots on the walls. The longer the problem is ignored, the more likely it is that rain will get in and the higher the chance of damage occurring. The best way to tackle this problem is to repair the defects that are allowing the rain to get inside. Water damage other than rain can include leaks from plumbing, appliances or even a flood. If there is a large amount of water it may need pumping out before it causes wet carpets, stains, swollen units and even ceiling collapse. If the water damage is significant, the wet plaster might need removing. You will certainly need a dehumidifier and fans to dry it out.
In in doubt, it is always best to get the professionals in. A sub-standard job can cost you more money in the long run.