How to diagnose damp in your home

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Damp is a problem in many older homes. It is often quite a simple issue that is easily resolved but working out what is causing it is key to curing or at least beginning to tackle the problem.

Is the wall damp?

The first thing you need to look for is the symptoms of damp. This will often be fairly obvious – for example, black mould loves cool, damp conditions and will grow on the affected area.

Another way of assessing damp is to place the back of your hand on parts of the wall to detect a temperature change – if it is cold this may be damp. The back of your hand is more sensitive than the fingers or palm.

Use a damp meter to assess whether and where the damp actually is. This costs a few pounds but if there is a problem will give you an accurate reading of the problem.

Let’s look at five causes of damp and its root problems:

  1. Condensation

Black mould is a symptom of condensation. You should use a mould killing spray regularly to tackle the mould and people in your home should stop getting any associated health problems to do with mould spores.

If possible stop hanging wet laundry in the home. If you can dry it in a machine or outside this will stop the accumulation of moisture in the air and on the walls.

Try to get a through-wall venting system and heat your home well to tackle the condensation problem.

  1. Check your roof and guttering!

A build-up of leaves in your gutters can force water under the eaves of your roof and into your home. If the flushing on your roof is gone, this can also lead to ingress of water.

  1. Is there debris in the cavity wall?

If there is rubbish or rubble bridging the gap between the outer and inner walls this will cause cold spots. Removal of this will prevent further condensation build up.

  1. Is the outside brickwork in good condition?

Where the mortar or cement has gone between the bricks this can let the moisture in. This can be resolved by repointing the brickwork.

  1. Damp course?

Is there a bridge over the damp course such as soil, rubble or a construction? Is the damp course intact? If no to these consider a chemical damp proof course treatment. There are some good ones that can be used by DIYers.

The take home

A little research around the root of your damp issues can save a lot of money and even your family’s health and welfare. It can often be easily resolved with minimal fuss or cost.