At the PCA (Property Care Association), both the association and its PCA members realise that protecting homes from damp and water is a vital part of preventing property problems. Effective drainage and guttering, watertight roofing and efficient pointing can all work together to protect properties from the outside - but when does the appearance of damp inside a house signal a problem?
Steve Hodgson, deputy director of the PCA, which represents the UK's damp proofing, timber preservation, structural maintenance and structural waterproofing industries, offers some advice on when to call in the experts.
When is there a damp proofing problem?
"There is no set guide when people should seek expert help with damp proofing problems in their home."
"For example, condensation that appears and then quickly disappears after a shower or cooking is absolutely normal. However, if condensation (the most common damp proofing problem) persists in the home, or there is wetness or black mould on walls ceilings or floors; then you may have a damp proofing problem that needs to be addressed. Quite often, small steps are all that are required in order to prevent damp occurring, but acting on the wrong advice at this stage could result in costly and expensive works, that are not always necessary."
"Help should be sought if persistent damp staining, surface salts or mildew can be seen on internal surfaces or if evidence of wood rot of any description is noticed within the property - but it is important to get expert advice from a professional. Inexperienced and unscrupulous cowboy operators must be avoided."
"Here, the PCA can help. Members, such as Wise Property Care, are all experts in building preservation and have the experience and training necessary to give the right advice.
"They have been carefully vetted before being awarded membership and the PCA is also a member of TrustMark, the scheme supported by Government to help property owners find reliable and trustworthy trades' people to make home improvements."
Damp - blight on property
"If damp conditions are allowed to persist in any property leading to damp proofing problems, then it will soon feel unpleasant for the occupants. Wallpaper and paint and other finishes are often damaged, stale odour can fill the air and in extreme causes fungal decay and beetle infestation can affect joinery and structural timbers.
"Water entering a structure will lead to serious problems if left unchecked. A dry rot outbreak can represent a serious blight to any property. Decay can start in concealed timbers that have become damp and, in the right conditions, can spread rapidly leading to serious structural failure of the affected wood.
"Modern treatment techniques can be far less invasive than they used to be and are highly effective, but take steps to prevent it - and get the right advice if you sense problems developing - major damage and costly repairs can be avoided if the causes of water ingress are identified and are nipped in the bud."
Damp proofing tips to help protect your home
Homeowners can also take some steps to prevent damp problems occurring in the first place. For example:
- Work should be undertaken to stop water getting into a house. Keep drains clear of leaves and other debris to enable water to escape from a building quickly, particularly during heavy downpours.
- Check your lead-work and roof tiling is in good condition and able to withstand the wind as well as the rain. If anything is loose or worn, water will find its way in.
- Check gutters are free from moss, leaves and other debris, and are all properly connected to give water a fast exit from the building.
- Poor pointing and rendering, as well as inefficient flashing on chimney breasts, can allow water to stream into a property. This is a very common damp problem area.
Internally, homes should be properly ventilated. With the modern demand for energy-efficient properties that are sealed with double glazing and new forms of insulation, newer buildings often present few opportunities for water vapour to escape from tumble dryers, showers and other appliance. In these sealed conditions, water vapour will condense when it meets a cold surface. By simply allowing a home to breathe - perhaps by opening windows, installing positive air ventilation systems and using the heating system effectively - you can help to stem potential damp proofing problems.
For more information on damp
For more information on damp and damp related issues then visit the following web pages:
Alternatively to speak to a damp expert contact us using the online contact form or by calling 0800 65 22 678.