Dealing with Damp When Renovating a Property
If you have a house to renovate or own a portfolio of properties to improve, damp is likely to be an issue that rears its ugly head at some point. It can be a serious problem for homeowners and investors alike; untreated, it can lead to the deterioration of masonry, timber and plaster and even become a health hazard for occupants. However, it isn’t too difficult to sort out, as long as you know what you’re looking for…
First, you need to bear in mind that the treatment and prevention of damp changes depending on the age of a building. Old buildings were designed with solid walls without damp proof barriers with the expectation that water below and above ground would enter the building in the form of moisture. Essentially, no effort was made to keep moisture out of the house! However, this was completely intentional: old buildings were erected with an ability to breathe, featuring loose fitting doors and windows and fireplaces which drew in and circulated large quantities of air, meaning that moisture could pass from room to room and exit through the external walls.
On the other hand, modern buildings are designed to keep water out entirely using a system of barriers such as insulation and products designed to seal surfaces, such as damp-proof paints and plasters. So, start by evaluating the age of the property and act accordingly: sealing up an old property using damp proofing materials intended for use in modern buildings could spell disaster.
Next, identify the cause of damp. It might be something simple and easy to fix, such as a plumbing problem (like a relentless drip forming an intense damp patch on the ceiling), leaking gutters causing water to spill down external walls, holes in the roof, or even or blockages in downpipes.
Alternatively, it could be something trickier to fix… for example, the previous homeowner may have injected damp-proofing chemicals or seals into an already-damp wall, preventing water from escaping and worsening the damp problem. Another common mistake you might have to contend with is the addition of solid wood flooring that hasn’t been installed in a way that allows moisture from below to escape. In this instance, moisture will simply travel to the base of the adjoining walls and worsen the effects of damp. If any of these scenarios could be the cause of damp in your property, seek the advice of a professional!
Finally, be sure you know how to to identify damp and condensation. There are differences between the two, and as a result, you’ll need different solutions to deal with both. Condensation occurs when water vapour is produced in large quantities without anywhere to go, usually via activities such as showering, drying laundry inside or cooking.
In this case, renovators will need to properly ventilate the area and invest in paint products and other materials with anti-condensation properties. On the other hand, instances of damp will require treatment to solve the problem, followed by a material or product designed to prevent damp returning.