Peter Ross, Operations Manager at Wise Property Care, shares some top tips on avoiding damp issues in your home this winter.
“The weather in Aberdeenshire has been particularly poor so far this month. Temperatures recently dropped as low as -4.5C and regular spells of heavy rain have prompted the emergency services and city council to urge homeowners to ‘be prepared’ for winter weather conditions.
With the forecast showing little sign of improvement, it’s important that homeowners inspect their properties and ensure the correct measures are in place to avoid any damp related issues this winter.
Unwanted moisture in a property – or damp – can not only cause cosmetic damage, it can also cause serious structural issues and even pose eventual health risks to occupants.
So, whether it’s your family home or commercial premises, now is the time to check your property is suitably equipped.
Prepare in advance
Before the rain and cold worsens, the first step is to examine your property and make sure everything is in place to prevent a damp problem from occurring in the first place. This should include:
- Checking drains and downpipes to ensure there are no blockages or leaks
- Inspecting flashing on the property’s roof and mastic around windows to ensure it prevents water from entering the building
- Ensuring that external ground levels are a minimum of 150mm below the building’s current damp proof course
- Applying a weather protective coating to the building’s exterior if you have absorbent masonry walls
- Making sure the property is properly ventilated – by installing and maintaining extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms, opening trickle vents on windows and by insulating the internal surface of cold outside walls and loft spaces
Understanding the different types of damp
With certain areas of Aberdeenshire recording over an inch of rainfall in just 24-hours this month, it’s a very real possibility that damp could be affecting your property.
By the time damp is visible, the damage can already be done, so it’s important to stay vigilant and look out for early warning signs.
There are three common forms of damp:
- Condensation: affects one in five British homes and is formed when moist warm air comes into contact with a cold surface.
- Rising damp: often occurs if a property does not have a damp proof course or has a failing damp proof course. It can also arise as a result of surface run-off hitting a wall during heavy storms.
- Penetrating damp: can occur if the property is exposed to prevailing winds, driving rain into the masonry and causing a form of damp that isn’t always obvious.
Spotting the warning signs
There are several things that can help you spot a potential damp problem. For example, when wet or damp patches appear on walls after rain and then disappear on drier days it indicates the presence of hygroscopic salts, which pull in excess moisture from the air and lead to damp patches.
Cracked plaster, peeling wallpaper, discolouration or stains on walls are also things to watch out for. Rotting skirting boards or structural timbers would also indicate a more significant damp problem.
It’s also important to follow your nose, as the excess moisture that causes damp will usually lead to an unmistakeably musty smell that can be vital to help identify an issue that could be building up out of sight.
With any damp problem, it is important to correctly identify the issue before going ahead with any form of damp proofing treatment. It can be very costly if a damp problem is misdiagnosed and the wrong treatment has been applied. Be sure to act fast, and if in doubt, call in the professionals!”
Find out more about how Wise Property Care can you help you online here.