If a survey has revealed that the property you are about to buy has damp, what does that mean and what do you do about it?
Well, you don’t have to be a damp squib. Help is at hand.
It might be rather dry reading (excuse the pun), but here’s the low-down on damp and what you can do about it.
What is damp?
Damp is generally defined as unwanted water or at least, moisture, in quantities that are unsightly or could cause deterioration to the building or furnishings. There are several types of damp: penetrating damp, rising damp, damp caused by plumbing defects and damp caused by condensation.
Penetrating damp occurs as a result of problems with the fabric of the building that can allow water to leak into the walls or floors.
Penetrating damp can also make your house smell musty, and can also cause health problems, especially among asthmatics or people with other respiratory ailments. Damp can also contribute to a feeling of cold in the home and therefore could cause you to crank up the heat, making your utility bills more expensive.
What causes penetrating damp?
The damp could stem from problems on the interior or the exterior of the property or both.
To stop penetrating damp, the source of the moisture needs to be tackled and this usually involves repair work to your house of some kind.
Rising Damp (not be confused with the 1970’s TV show of the same name)
Rising damp is water from the ground that enters a structure by capillary action. Water that enters or affects a building through any other route can move about in various ways but is not rising damp. Rising damp can be cured by the installation of a chemical damp proof course.
What can I do about rising damp in my house?
Rising damp comes from water slowly rising UPWARDS into the building fabric from the ground or from any other source such as walkways and deck access and paths that run around your house, but are directly next to the walls
This is important to note the difference. Also one strange fact is that in most houses, damp will rise in what’s called “capillary action” and will usually rise about 4 or 5 feet and then stop. So if you have damp in UPSTAIRS rooms its probably penetrating damp and NOT rising damp.
The main cause of rising damp in houses is the lack of an adequate damp proof course. The damp proof course may be missing altogether or may have failed or have been bridged or bypassed in some way. The damp does not rise quickly and does not normally reach higher than 1 metre up the wall. It leaves characteristic tide marks and sometimes salt deposits on this edge. The marks will look the same for long periods and are not normally affected by changes in climatic conditions.
This damp is usually seen on external and party walls above the skirting boards.
This type of damp can be caused by:
Plumbing defects are typically solved by:
Condensation is caused when moisture produced by everyday activities such as cooking and bathing meets a cold surface and condenses forming water droplets. Mould growth will quickly appear and spread all over the cold surface such as a wall or window frame. The amount of moisture deposited is dependant on how warm the air is, how much moisture the air is carrying and how cold the surface is.
The signs of common condensation are:
Condensation control is a complex issue and is a balance between:
If a survey has suggested that the property you have made an offer on has a damp problem, then it is best to seek the advice of a professional to assess the job and advise on the costs involved in solving the issue. At this point you could choose to pull out of the sale or alternatively, you could ask that the sale price be re-negotiated to reflect the cost of repairs – and this is where your estate agent can really act as your champion. If you decide to undertake repairing the damp it is best to employ a professional builder or specialist.
If you need the advice of a damp specialist, Northfields can refer you to our preferred contractor so that you don’t have to take a risk with the finding someone on the internet. Call our Property Management team on 020 8799 4362 – we can recommend someone to help who we know is up to the job.