rising damp present in house

How to Prevent Damp in a House?

23 November 2021

As you no doubt already know damp is a common problem that affects many properties across the UK. Preventing damp occurring at your house is always going to be better that having to rectify a damp problem. Carrying out simple home maintenance tasks at your property can go a long way to preventing damp taking a hold.

Responding quickly to property maintenance issues, such as emptying blocked gutters and repairing any cracks in walls can make the difference between an inexpensive repair and an expensive one.

In this article, we explain what the different forms of damp are and what can be done to prevent dampness from affecting your house.

Condensation

black mould in kitchen

Condensation is by far the most common form of dampness that can occur within your house. Compared to rising damp and penetrating damp this is the simplest form of damp that can, by and large, be prevented by making a number of small changes to your daily lifestyle.

Condensation occurs when warm, moisture laden air comes into contact with a cold surface or if there is too much humidity within your home. When warm moisture laden air comes into contact with a cold surface it cools down. This then turns into condensation.

When the excess moisture has nowhere to escape to condensation will form on walls, ceilings and windowsills. If the condensation issue is not rectified quickly then, over time, black mould spots will also start to appear. Black mould growth can be dangerous to not only your health but if left for a prolonged period of time can also lead to further damage occurring to your house.

How to Prevent Condensation?

As we have already mentioned, there are simple steps you can take at your house to prevent condensation from becoming a problem. Having good ventilation is the key to preventing condensation.

Opening Windows and Doors

open window

The simplest method of improving airflow in your property and allowing moisture to escape is to open windows and doors where possible. You should also try to avoid drying clothes inside. This is especially an issue during the cooler months of the year.

During autumn and winter you should make sure that you don’t dry clothes on radiators but, if you have to, wherever possible make sure that the nearby windows are open.

Extractor Fans

To achieve good ventilation, you should also consider adding extractor fans if you don’t have any installed already. This is especially important in the bathroom and kitchen. This will help improve the airflow of the property, helping to clear any excess moisture from the rooms.

Move Furniture Away From Cold Walls

If there is furniture, such as a sofa or wardrobe, pressed close against a cold wall, then this provides the ideal conditions for condensation to build up. Condensation likes to form behind furniture which will then lead to the growth of black mould.

To make sure there is good airflow behind the furniture, you should make sure that there is a gap between the furniture and the wall.

Prevent Moisture Building up in Kitchen

Another handy tip for preventing condensation is to restrict the amount of moisture that is created in the kitchen. You can help achieve this by simply using a lid while cooking. This can stop condensation from forming on the windows. You should also use the cooker extractor hood when the hob is being used and even run it for 5-10 minutes after cooking as well.

Rising Damp

Rising damp is much more difficult to prevent then condensation but can also cause serious problems if not resolved quickly. Rising damp is the process of water rising up through the brick work via capillary action.

It often occurs when a damp proof course has become damaged over time or if the ground levels surrounding the house have been bridged and are higher than the damp proof course. The common signs of rising damp are that there will be tide marks on the interior walls of up to 1 metre in height along with hygroscopic salt stains and plaster starting to peel off the walls.

How to Prevent Rising Damp?

Check the Damp Proof Course

carry out checks on brickwork

If you own a property that is more than 20-30 years old, then it may be possible that your existing damp proof course may have started to break down. To prevent rising damp from occurring, arrange a survey with a PCA qualified surveyor to carry out an inspection of the property and explain what action needs to be taken to prevent rising damp from occurring at the property.

Prevent Bridging of the Damp Proof Course

Bridging of the damp proof course as a result of garden landscaping is a common problem. When gardening next to the house make sure that any raised flowerbeds, patios or features do not exceed the height of the damp proof course.

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp is a common damp problem that can occur at any property, but it is also preventable by carrying out routine property maintenance tasks. Penetrating damp is the process of water penetrating through the walls of the property due to a structural defect (damaged gutters, pipes etc.)

You can usually spot signs of penetrating damp in a property by watermarks (be careful not to confuse penetrating damp with rising damp though), musty damp smell and black mould spots. Penetrating damp can also cause damage to timbers and if it does, it can then lead to wood rotting issues such as dry rot or wet rot.

How to Prevent Penetrating Damp?

The key to preventing penetrating damp from entering your house is by carrying out basic routine property maintenance. The main causes of penetrating damp are as a result of damage that has occurred on the outside of the building. The list below runs through checks and fixes that need to be made to prevent penetrating damp from becoming a problem.

Blockages or Damaged Guttering and Pipes

emptying blocked gutters

You should make routine checks on your guttering and pipes to see if they have been damaged or if there are any blockages. If you see any blockages or damage to the guttering or pipes, then these will need to be unblocked or repaired as soon as possible.

Damage to Roof Tiles

If there is any damage to the roof tiles, then a qualified roofer should carry out the work to replace any cracked or missing tiles.

Damage to Windows

Checks should be made to see if the windows have weathered over time or have just become accidentally damaged. If this is the case, then these will need to be repaired or replaced depending on the level of damage.

Cracks in the Render

Horizontal Mortar Joint Cracking

If there are cracks within the render on the outside walls, then these will allow for the water to pass through. If there are any cracks they will need to be repaired as quickly as possible.

Need Some Further Advice or to Book a Survey?

We hope this article has helped provide you with some handy tips on how to prevent damp occurring at your house. As we have already explained, there are a number of simple measures you can carry out to prevent damp and mould from becoming a problem.

If you are currently having a problem with damp and need a surveyor to help identify what type of damp is causing an issue as well as detail what type of treatment is needed, then contact our team at Timberwise.

Our surveyors are fully qualified by the Property Care Association and have many years of experience. To get in touch with us then simply contact us by either calling us on 0880 288 8660 or contacting us online.