Dampness is a common problem encountered all property owner or residences. No house is immune to dampness. Dampness can cause unprotected wood to wot in a matter of weeks or make your brand new appliances rust in a week and the worst problem dampness can cause indoors is mold and mildew growth on every surface of the home and its items.
Dampness will make your home or any other space feel cold with stuffy unhealthy air and if it is not addressed over time it can cause thousands of dollar worth of structural damage to your home. Luckily dampness can be identified and treated using simple strategies to mitigate its symptoms. However, it is important to deal with the source of the dampness first so as to have long-term control over it.
How to identify a damp problem.
During the winter period it is much easier to spot dampness symptoms, however, you can check for this problem at any time of the year. Here is a list of the surface to check and what to look out for:
1. On the walls – Touch the surface of the walls in rooms in your house. Feel if the walls feel cold, damp or have condensed water on them. Look out for mold or fungi growth, they will appear as grey growth or black spots on wood, painted wall, and wallpaper. Paint and wallpaper peeling off the walls is usually a clear indication of dampness.
2. Ceiling – Look out for mold growth, also pay close attention to the color of the ceiling – water stains or brown patches are usually a sign of fluid damage.
3. Windows – Check of condensation on the windows, or glass doors. Check for puddles of water on the windows sills, especially in the morning. These are signs of high humidity levels in the house, which might be the reason for increased dampness indoors. Also, check for mold growth on the wooden window frames and the silicon sealant used to seal the space between the window frame and walls.
4. Kitchen and bathrooms – Check the cupboard and cabinets for any water damage stain and mold growth, while paying close attention to any musty smell in there. Inspect for the same on the windows and ceiling in these spaces. In the bathroom check for mold under the sink, in the drains, under the tab, and on all surfaces.
5. The attic, basement or the crawlspaces – For most people, these either totally don’t use this space or the use them as excess storage spaces. Because not much care is taken to the humidity levels of humidity in these spaces then they become excessively damp. Check for condensed water or a musty smell.
Causes of damp.
Here is a list of some of the major causes of damp in homes:
1. Penetrating damp.
Causes - Occurs when water seeps through crack or opening on the exterior surface of the house. Rainwater can penetrate through damaged chimneys or roofs. Common causes include leaking roofs caused by loose or broken tiles or damaged flashing, leaking gutters caused by loose hanging gutters or blocked gutters with debris or dead leaves, leaks from parapet can cause damage to the walls and the roof.
Signs of penetrating dampness – brown stains on the ceilings, in the chimney and walls as a result of water damage.
Repairs – Identify the leak and have it seal or the roof tile replaced to avoid easy rainwater ingress.
2. Insufficient ventilation.
Causes – Modern lifestyles and household activities like hot showers, cooking, and washing, have been proven capable of generating over 15 liters of water vapor. The ineffective ventilation systems in your home will cause accumulation of humidity indoors. Concrete from the newly constructed house will gradually let the water used in built out into the indoor air increasing the indoor humidity levels.
Signs – condensation on windows, cold uninsulated pipes or cold walls especially in the mornings. Your home feels cool and damp.
Repairs – clean out the vents in the house and reduce the number of activities that generate moisture indoors.
3. Leaking plumbing.
Cause – Leaking water, it doesn’t matter whether its slow trickling drops or water gushing out in a large amount or whether its warm or cold water. Leaking water from taps or pipe or appliance like washing machines is one of the major causes of increased dampness indoors.
Signs – look out for mold growth paces or brown water stains on the walls. Check for mold growth under the sink and under any appliance using water.
Repairs – check all the pipes and ensure they are well connected to the taps and other appliance without leaks., no burst pipes, no breakdown on the pipe joints and ensure baths don’t overflow.
4. Rising damp.
Cause – common in older homes, today the modern house is built with a damp-proof course on its foundation. In older houses with on damp-proof course, the concrete in the foundation will absorb ground water, especially in the rainy seasons when the soil is highly saturated. This will allow damp to raise.
Signs – damp surface and mold growth on the ground floor rooms. In extreme cases of rising damp, you can see puddles of water on the floor.
Repairs - you can install the modern damp-proof course. This can be expensive but it is the only. Better rainwater collection systems that will allow most of the water to be deposited away from the home’s foundation.
How do you prevent dampness in your home?
It is important to note that any preventive measure taken like insulation or modern plaster should never decrease the house’s ability to breathe. Trapping the moisture in between insulation materials and the walls can cause health and structural problems.
Here are some of the measures you should take to prevent dampness indoors:
1. Choose the right sealant and paint – Use water-based paint system indoor to improve the home’s breathe-ability and also guarantee vapor pressure build up. Use a flexible silicone sealant to seal the window frames and glass joints.
2. Frequent outdoor home maintenance :
- Ensure you regularly check the roof for any damages.
- Keep the gutter clean and repair them in case of any damage.
- You can also install gutter guards to keep debris and leaves from the gutters.
- Inspect the exterior surface for crack or any damage.
3. Ensure there is no crack on window and walls – Seal all cracks on the home structure and fix leaking pipes or appliances like washing machines.
4. Keep the house warm – to reduce the level of indoor condensation you can keep the indoor air warm, which will warm up most of the surfaces in the house hence decrease dampness.
5. Avoid activities that generate a lot of moisture - While some household activities cant be avoided – like we will never recommend you skip showering, but you can recommend you avoid drying your wet clothes indoors.
6. Have a great ventilation system – Have an effective ventilation system that will allow free air circulation throughout the entire house. This ensures the water vapor does not accumulate in one single room making it damp. You can also install an extractor fan or air mover in the kitchen or bathrooms, which should be used when cooking or showering to help clear the moisture in the room.
7. Invest in a dehumidifier – We saved the best for last. Investing in a dehumidifier is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to keep your home damp free. A dehumidifierwill remove excess moisture from the air, filter out mold spore and other airborne impurities for better indoor air quality. A dehumidifier will also aid in warming up the indoor air. Once the dehumidifier controls your indoor humidity levels to maintain below 50%, you will feel warmer and more comfortable.