Homeowners invest a lot of money, time, and effort to build and maintain a beautiful home. Therefore, when they come across recurring construction problems that destroy their home’s aesthetic appeal, they get frustrated.
Moisture in the walls, also known as damp, is one such problem.
For many homeowners, damp keeps returning despite their continued efforts and expenditures to counter it.
Apart from ruining a home’s look, it also creates significant health risks and reduces the property’s value.
So with moisture in your walls, you can’t expect any good to come your way.
You should aim to get rid of it – and as soon as you can!
Types of damp
First of all, it is important to identify exactly how moisture is affecting your home’s walls to determine the correct treatment approach. This ‘diagnostic step’ significantly reduces the chances of it returning.
Knowing the different types of damp can also help you in two other ways:
- If you are building your own home, you will have the option of choosing the right kind of construction materials and methods to employ for prevention. This is the most basic step you can take to avoid this problem in the long run. Not surprisingly, it comes at the very top of every expert’s recommendations list (on this issue).
- If you are a homebuyer, especially a first time one, then you can detect the signs of any existing moisture in the walls. Armed with this knowledge, you can then choose to pursue another property option, or even negotiate lower prices for the same structure. The information given below can really help you in this respect.
The most common types of damp are listed as follows:
This appears in the form of mild patches on the walls. The patches may seem negligible at first, but if left unchecked, they can lead to more severe moisture-retention issues. You may also be able to identify spores of black mould on their surfaces if you look closely enough.
This type of damping occurs due to the saturation of water vapour in the house – as a result of poor ventilation.
To get rid of condensation, you obviously need to improve your home’s ventilation.
To do this, open the windows at different hours of the day. Try to reduce activities that create moisture indoors. For example, dry your clothes outdoors and use exhaust fans when cooking.
It is also important to clear any black mould spots formed due to condensation.
For this purpose, you can find many removal products in the market, but it is better to call a professional. Consider installing an air ventilation system in your home for a more robust, long-term, defense.
Lateral damp can appear at any point on a wall surface. Typically, this type of moisture intrudes into your indoors space through an outside wall. Its passage is made possible because of broken/missing tiles, leaking pipes, and choked/overflowing gutters.
Lateral damp usually appears as dark patches on walls and woodwork. If you have peeling, crumbly, and wet plaster on your walls, you’ve probably contracted this problem.
Apart from clearing the damage caused by lateral damp, you have to find the source of the leak that’s causing it. For this end, a plumber can thoroughly scan your home for any pipes or other water sources leaking into the walls or ceiling.
You should know that only repairing this damage will get rid of this problem. So you might want to avoid any other ‘shortcuts’ that you see on the internet.
Rising damp appears with signs that are similar to those of lateral damp. The only difference is that this type of moisture issue starts from the lower segments of your walls.
You can identify the damp patches as rising tide marks. These can go as high as one metre sometimes; leaving behind residues of salt and water.
When the water is still inside the wall, the paint will feel pasty, and damage will be visible on the skirting too.
Eventually the water will dry out, but it does not mean that the damage is fixed. When this happens, the paint will begin to crumble, leaving behind uneven layers in its wake.
Just like lateral damp, you need to find the source of the leakage causing the issue. And again, you should avoid quick fixes as these only add to the cost and recovery effort.
Covering the damage with a fresh layer of paint will make it harder to treat the area when the damp returns; since the water source will still be leaking into it.
If the issue is still in its initial stages, you can apply a regular fix after repairing the leakage. If it has turned into a chronic headache, you can consider the following treatments:
- Injection of siliconates for imbuing ‘built properties’
- Physical rising damp membrane (suitable for professional use only)
After applying your chosen treatment method, take care to remove any salt-contaminated plaster. Otherwise, the residues will continue to absorb more moisture.
This type of damp originates in your home’s outside walls. With time, it can penetrate deep into your interior walls; becoming horribly visible.
Penetrating damp is not always the result of leakages. Outdoor walls are always exposed to the impact of environmental conditions. Also, poor, displaced, or damaged brickwork can worsen this problem.
Penetrating damp can give rise to further damage, including outpourings of black mould, dry rot, and wet rot.
So word of advice: Don’t try to fix it before having the actual cause treated!
You need to call a professional damp surveyor to find out what is causing the penetrating damp. Some common causes include a missing roof slate, blocked gutter, and cracked masonry. These are easy to fix, and should definitely be looked for first.
Other causes, like old brickwork, poorly installed windows, leaking roof, and damage to existing damp-proofing installations are more difficult to remedy.
So to reiterate everything we’ve discussed, the first step to treating a damp problem in your home is to identify its particular type. For treatments, we strongly recommend hiring a damp surveyor and other relevant professionals.
If you’ve got other practical ideas on removing damp from house walls, please share them with us in the comments section below.