If you are in the process of buying a property then damp problems can be one of those things that you need to look out for. This is particularly the case if you are buying a property that has been empty for quite a while or if it’s a particularly old property (built pre-1919). With the latter, properties built before this date were not built with a damp-proof course so they can be prone to more damp issues.
Generally there are three types of damp that may affect the property you are purchasing – rising damp, penetrating damp and condensation. Let’s take a quick look at each of these:
Rising Damp – this is caused by ground water moving up the walls of the property. The damp-proof course should stop this but if there isn’t one or it’s not working properly, damp could start to infiltrate the walls, especially if the ground-level outside is higher than the damp-proof course. Tell-tale signs of rising damp include a tide mark appearing along the wall, peeling paint and wallpaper, damaged skirting boards, wet carpets by the wall etc.
Penetrating Damp – this is caused by water leaking through walls and can often result from damaged guttering or roofing. Penetrating damp tends to move horizontally through a building and it can be identified through damp patches appearing on ceilings, walls and floors. Older properties can be prone to penetrating damp because they tend to have solid walls. Newer properties have cavity walls which afford some protection.
Condensation – this is caused by moist air condensing on walls. More of a problem in winter, condensation can be intensified by the process of heating coming on and going off combined with poor ventilation. This results in damp air condensing and water starts to appear on windows and even on walls. Left unattended this can damage plaster, window frames, cause mould and also create an unpleasant odour.
What a surveyor will recommend
When paying for a survey, your surveyor will test for dampness throughout the property you intend to purchase and advise you if and where there is a problem. They will advise you as to the severity of the dampness, the potential defects or damage that it may cause and the steps you should consider to deal with the problem.
Dealing with damp issues
In the event of a rising damp or penetrating damp it is advisable to bring in a damp-proofing specialist who will check the integrity of your damp-proof course and install a new one if necessary. With regards to penetrating damp, a specialist will investigate the cause of the damp to see if there are problems with the gutters and downpipes or if there is any pointing or flashing issues in the roof. This may mean you need new guttering or the roof re-pointed.
Condensation issues can be dealt with by having better ventilation. This may include having a bathroom and kitchen fan installed, purchasing a dehumidifier, having cavity wall insulation and regulating the heating levels in your home more effectively.
To find out more about damp problems in the home and how an effective survey can assist you then please do not hesitate to contact us.