Signs of Rising Damp on the outside walls of a home

How To Control Damp in a Second Home

30 November 2022

Owning a second home is an enviable position. Either you have the opportunity to live somewhere else when the climate suits you, or you are able to generate some passive income as a landlord, or holiday home manager.

Either way though, your time is not going to be spent entirely within one location. This means that at some point during the year one of your properties is going to be out of sight – and as a result, so will any defects in that property.

So, if you have a second home, what can you do to help stave off damp and other property care issues when you aren’t in?

Request a survey

Need a survey? call 0800 288 8660 or

What Property Care Issues Are Common in Second Homes?

Evidence of condensation forming on interior window

Having a second home means splitting your time, and that means one property is going to be out of sight for a period of the year.

Obviously, not noticing a small leak isn’t going to cause a property to dilapidate immediately – but, all it takes is a small leak to allow damp into a property. That small leak could be enough to cause real problems once the weather gets cooler, and lead to all kind of other headaches if not taken care of immediately.

Let’s examine leaks first then.

A leak could potentially lead to the onset of penetrating damp. Penetrating damp is a form of damp that comes about as a result of a defect within a property. This means that anything, from a leaky drainpipe, to an overflowing gutter, could potentially cause damp to set in a nearby wall if it’s exposed to the fault for long enough.

This is a very common form of damp in second homes. Why?

Because, if a property is left vacant over the colder months in the year for example, when rain is more common, you aren’t going to notice a small patch of damp growing larger and larger as the rain keeps falling.

Realistically, if left untreated, this kind of damp can easily lead to other nasty issues. The likes of black mould, timber degradation, dry rot, and the general decay of your properties wallpaper, plasterboard, and other decorative elements.

It’s not just penetrating damp either. Rising damp is another form of damp that gets worse with the rain, because the moisture enters your properties walls via what’s known as capillary action. Essentially, the rain falls, and soaks into the ground.

That same moisture then enters the base of your properties walls, and from there travels upwards through the porous building materials. Now, if your property has a functional damp proof course installed, you have nothing to worry about at this juncture.

However, if your damp proof course has failed then you can expect to see a level of damp seemingly ‘rising’ on your properties walls, out of the floor.

You can expect this level of dampness to rise about one meter above where your properties walls meet the floor, and for it to spread horizontally for as long as the problem is allowed to persist, as any damp proof course will be ineffective once the moisture is above it.

Just like penetrating damp, the problem will only get worse the heavier it rains. This opens up the possibilities of rot infesting your below carpet floorboards and joists, ruining your timber and creating more problems than just damp in your walls.

Obviously, this also opens up the possibility of black mould spores landing on your walls, and slowly growing and spreading as time goes by, the damp spreads, and more of your property becomes an ideal breeding ground for the wallpaper, plasterboard, and carpet ruining black mould spores.

Then of course, there is condensation.

In a vacant property, this is more of a problem in the months when ventilation is a concern. If your property isn’t ventilating its warm air properly, then any dense or moist air that becomes trapped inside the property is likely to condense onto your walls, and over time, become a damp problem.

This is more likely to happen in the summer months when your vacant second home is more likely to retain heat. One of the hardest parts about combatting condensation is that not only do you need to be in the property regularly to make sure it ventilates, but you also need to be there to notice the condensation on the walls to know there is a problem.

So, how might you go about protecting your second property if you aren’t there to see the signs of damp encroaching – and if you do notice them, what can you do?

Request a survey

Need a survey? call 0800 288 8660 or

Protecting Your Second Home Against Damp

 

 

Depending on how you choose to use your second home there are a couple of different ways that you can stave off damp setting in when you aren’t in.

The first would be to have a damp and timber survey conducted on the property, and to follow the surveyors instructions on how to protect the property if it is found to be vulnerable to damp.

This might mean the installation of a damp proof course (DPC), some work on building defects to prevent the onset of rising damp, or even reducing the ways in which condensation is generated passively. In any event, you will want to follow the findings of the surveyor closely as they are going to know exactly what risks your property is going to face in the coming months depending on the weather, and depending on whether the property is going to sit vacant or occupied.

Then there is the question on whether your property is actually being occupied whilst you aren’t there. If it is, then you may well want to ask the tenants to keep an eye on potential damp spots whilst you are away, and if they do notice the signs of damp beginning to present themselves then you can act even in your absence.

Tenants being in your second home means that you could potentially have damp proofing surveys or works take place when you aren’t there. Obviously, it might not be ideal for a holiday home you are renting out in the summer, but a long term tenant occupying your property when you aren’t there is handy for if you want a surveyor to visit the property when you aren’t around.

If you have no one in your second home when you aren’t there though, this option may not be available to you. The best bet in this instance would be to make sure that the property is entirely up to a qualified surveyors standards before leaving it.

If you need to make sure that your second property is safe to leave before an extended period of time away, then get in touch with our team.

Our qualified and highly experienced surveyors can closely inspect your property for any signs of damp, or indications that damp proofing or remedial measures might fail in the future so that you can leave your second home safe in the knowledge that damp wont be ruining it whilst you are away.

Just call 0800 288 8660, or visit us online to arrange a survey with our team.