Discover what is causing your damp problem and how to cure it

Damp proofing or condensation should be carried out only by a professional damp proofing company, preferably one that is Property Care Association (PCA) qualified.

The first step in solving a damp problem is to find what type of damp your property is suffering from. Only by having a professional survey carried out can you can be sure of what type of damp your property is suffering from. But by knowing the signs you can often tell what is at the root of the problem.

Rising Damp

Rising damp can be a common problem in older properties, and often causes decay to skirting boards, and damage to plaster, decoration, and furnishings. It can also be damaging to health.

Rising damp causes

Rising damp is caused by the lack of — or breakdown of — the original damp proof course. Most buildings have a damp proof course. However, when this becomes damaged or has not been installed properly, damp will rise through the brickwork.

In other cases, the ground levels outside the property rise over time until eventually they are higher than the damp course. This allows moisture from the soil to rise up through the brickwork.

How to identify rising damp

Rising damp is caused by moisture rising up porous brick or masonry walls through capillary action — a little like moisture being absorbed by a sponge. The moisture will continue to rise until gravity stops any further movement.

Rising damp can often be characterised by a "tide mark" like stain on the lower sections of the affected walls. It is important to identify if you have a rising damp problem and find an appropriate rising damp treatment as quickly as possible.

The only cure for rising damp

The only way to completely cure rising damp is to stop the moisture from rising up the wall. It isn’t enough to stop the damp from entering the property by applying a waterproof barrier onto the walls, because eventually the damp will rise above the barrier and leave a stain higher up the wall.

Then the whole area will need to be treated again to a higher level, which means spending even more money than the first time around, not to mention the disruption it causes.

In some cases, the waterproof barrier will fail, sometimes in as little as twelve months, again requiring the work to be redone with all the expense and disruption that entails.

A permanent cure

The Dryzone system is the result of an extensive in-house research and development program which involved the screening and testing of hundreds of potential formulations.

Tests have proved that Dryzone offers a higher degree of protection against rising damp than previous systems which used chemical injection techniques.

The British Board of Agrément (BBA) — a Government-partnered testing organization that has been providing independent information on building products for over 30 years — has carried out extensive tests and awarded Dryzone a prestigious BBA approval.

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Condensation is by far the most common cause of dampness in buildings. It affects both old and new buildings, and can be a significant problem where the building has been modernised.

It is also directly associated with mould growth, which you may see first. The mould is usually found on decorative surfaces, especially wallpaper, where it can cause severe and permanent spoiling, and causes the musty odour associated with a damp house.

Condensation and your health

In severe cases, the mould and the spores may cause health complaints, including coughs, sore eyes and breathing problems. In fact, mould is classified as a Category 1 risk under the Health and Safety Hazards Rating System.

The obvious places for condensation to occur are on cold walls and floors, but it can also occur in roof spaces and in sub-floor areas where there is a timber suspended floor. In the latter case it can lead to wet or dry rot developing.

The causes of condensation

The causes of condensation are always the same. It happens when air filled with moisture touches a cold surface. This often happens on the windows, but it is also common on external walls (which tend to be cold).

The moisture in the air then “condensates” (turns into water) and you get the problems you’re familiar with — the windows covered in water, damp patches on the walls, and the growth of black mould.

Latest techniques to cure condensation

There is really only one cure for condensation, and that is to reduce the moisture in the air by creating adequate ventilation.

Damp Cured does this by using the most advanced ventilation systems available, particularly those from Envirovent, the leading manufacturer of energy-efficient ventilation systems and winner of an innovation award for their products on condensation control.

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Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp occurs when moisture seeps in from the external walls to the internal walls. It is usually caused by construction that has failed and occurs at a high level of the property.

Penetrating damp is often caused by blocked guttering or down-pipes, which causes the water to overflow and saturate the external wall.

In some cases the gap between the cavity walls has been bridged by rubbish left within the cavity or mortar left on wall ties. Water can now cross the cavity wall to the internal wall and saturate the inner masonry and the inner plaster.

Penetration of rain into brickwork can also be due to a high porosity of the brick or failure of the pointing. Formation of hairline cracks in rendering can also allow rain water to penetrate the wall.

Penetrating damp will occur in certain areas of walls or ceilings. However, leaks can cause the same localised damp pattern.

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Dry Rot

Dry rot occurs when excess moisture penetrates timbers. It can travel through brick walls and concrete floors well away from the source of moisture in search of additional timber. Dry rot can travel at an alarming speed and must be treated as soon as possible to minimise further damage.

Signs of dry rot

White sheets (known as mycelium growth) are often present, and an orange-coloured fruiting body may be seen on the timber. Badly-affected timber will be dark brown and crumble due to rot feeding on it.

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Wet Rot

Unlike dry rot, wet rot will remain near the source of moisture. It occurs when the moisture content of a timber becomes too high, which could be caused by a number of problems. It is essential to hire an experienced damp proofing contractor to diagnose the problem and treat it quickly.

Signs of wet rot

A black fungus may appear on timber, which will likely be discoloured and feel soft and spongy to the touch

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