Damp is an issue which all properties face at some point and it can be both damaging to our health and damaging to the buildings that it affects. However, it can be addressed, the risks can be avoided and there are methods to prevent it from being a problem.
Ventilation is the key to reducing damp and it's quite simple to achieve. Leaving windows open, turning on ventilation systems and ensuring wet areas are thoroughly dried out is all it really takes. A good ventilation system with an extractor fan is a must for kitchens and bathroom areas.
Making sure that residential and office furniture is moved away from walls and windows during colder months may not prevent damp but it will reduce the likelihood of damp causing damage to furniture and discourage the build up of mould.
Damp isn't just an issue in residential properties; damp is frequently encountered in offices and can be just as big an issue. As offices can be unoccupied for longer periods it is important that the temperature not drop too low. Cleaning of windows is important to prevent condensation buildup (and also to make for a happy work environment) and, as at home, opening windows will allow air to flow more freely and reduce the risk of damp problems.
Sources of Damp
Surprisingly, one common source of damp is ventilation systems - this is because they are rarely cleaned properly. Clogged up ventilation systems will force damp and mould to remain on the property. Clean extractor fans several times a year as a minimum and if damp remains a problem then consider replacing fans and ducting with larger sizes.
Check your pipes. Leaky or blocked pipes will mean that more moisture will stay in the room. Check cladding, concrete walls and flooring for damp patches which might indicate that moisture is making its way through. As winter approaches check for leaves and plants which may be blocking drains and pipes.
In older buildings some of the modern methods we use for heating can add to damp issues. Double-glazed windows will increase relative humidity and may lead to damp if air isn't able to flow freely.
Obtaining a hygrometer may help you identify rooms with high humidity and a dehumidifier can reduce condensation issues but it doesn't fully address damp problems. Running a dehumidifier can be expensive so it is wise to select one which is Energy Certified.
There are many tools and installations which will combat damp. Use a waterproof sealant to fix concrete problems and replace tiles if they are broken. Improved drainage, albeit expensive, is one solution for ground floor spaces which are prone to flooding or have a history of drainage issues.
In wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms one easy fix is to use an automatic extractor fan which will turn on when steam and high humidity is detected. Condensation which forms on windows should be cleared quickly to minimize the chance of black mould developing.
It is wise to regularly inspect insulation for signs of water damage. If insulation isn't kept dry, there is a strong change of damp developing. Similarly, make sure that wooden frames and beams aren't rotting. Treat these issues at the first opportunity. If wooden doors or frames are showing signs of rot then consider fitting a weatherboard.
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