How to identify damp at home?

Damp Proofing

How to identify damp at home?

Damp in the home is a horrible feeling, it stops your clothes from drying, smells bad and can even cause or irritate health problems.

So when you can smell or feel damp in the house, knowing where it’s coming from, what kind of damp it is and what’s causing it is essential to getting it fixed quickly.

Here’s a brief overview of the different kinds of damp and how to identify damp at home

1. Walls

Put your hand against the wall. Does it feel cold or damp?

The tell-tale signs will be mould or fungal growth. Black speckled marks or grey spreading growth on paint, walls, woodwork and wallpaper. You can also spot damp if you have wallpaper that’s curling or flaky paintwork.

2. Ceilings

Check ceilings for the same signs for mould as walls but also have a look for any discolouration or staining. If there are brown patches in the corners or around chimney breasts it could be a sign of damp.

3. Windows

The obvious sign here is condensation when you wake up in the morning, sometimes accompanied by puddles of water on the sills. Black mould can also appear on window frames – both wooden and PVC – and the seals.

“These can all be an indication of high moisture levels within the property.”

4. Bathrooms and kitchens

Two of the busiest rooms in our houses can also be the most susceptible to damp. Have a look on any tile grouting or sealant around the shower and sink for signs of black mould. Look out for it around window frames and the ceiling.

Check inside any cupboards or cabinets for staining. If there’s a musty smell, that too could indicate damp.

5. Unheated spaces and basements/cellars

Ask how to identify damp here, and the best answer is to sniff. That tell-tale musty smell will be obvious. Again, look out for mould and staining on the walls and woodwork.

What’s the cause?

You can normally narrow the causes of damp in the home down to four main problems:

  • Ventilation
    If moisture can’t escape from the property you can suffer from symptoms like cold damp walls, condensation and a cold feeling throughout.
  • Penetrating damp
    This can be as a result of leaky pipes, guttering, a leaking roof, or old and crumbling mortar, pebble dash or render on a property.
  • Rising damp
    Associated with older properties before damp-proof courses became a necessity. Surfaces will feel cold and damp and that musty smell will also be present.
  • Leaking plumbing
    Whether it’s coming from the hot and cold water, waste water or central heating pipework, this is a common cause of damp problems. Look for spreading damp patches – maybe under a radiator or around a sink

What to do?

You may be tempted to give it a go yourself, but unless your the source of damp is very minor or DIY skills are exceptional, you could well create more problems than you solve.

You’ve identified the damp – what’s next?

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