Damp and Condensation
By Scott Moran, BSc (Hons) MRICS - Surveying Director
Damp properties cause misery for thousands of households across the UK. Figures from the English Housing Survey show 4% of the estimated 23 million households in England are experiencing damp problems in at least one room of their home.
The UK’s cold and wet climate contributes to the problem, but building fabric also plays a part. And although the age of much of the housing stock can contribute to damp issues, new homes can suffer from “damp” too.
Living in a damp property is generally unpleasant, what’s more it comes with known health risks. Damp often leads to mould, which can have effects ranging from nasal stuffiness or wheezing, to eye or skin irritation. Children, the elderly and people with skin or respiratory conditions are particularly at risk from moisture build-up in the home.
‘Damp’ is a general term which covers a range of different issues connected to excess moisture. It is important to establish what the source of the problem is exactly, and its origin and this is where Nuven Surveyors can help.
If a property suffers from a build up of condensation, something as simple as improving ventilation might fix the problem. Penetrating damp, on the other hand, is caused by water leaking through walls, and may be caused by something as simple as defective rainwater goods.
If dampness is just occurring at the bottom of a wall, the issue may be rising damp. This is where ground water moves up through the house due to capillary action. However, this is often misdiagnosed and may be remedied by something as simple as lowering external ground levels.
Excess condensation in a property is a common problem. There are some simple ways of cutting the risk of condensation build up. We all create moisture in our homes through cooking, boiling kettles, showers, and even breathing. On average, a family of four will create more than 100 pints of moisture each week – and if there’s nowhere for it to escape, it’s going to build up on surfaces.
A common misnomer is that improving insulation is the answer but the relationship between insulation and damp is a complicated one. By and large, insulation keeps a house warmer – including the inside surface of the walls. Condensation is less likely to build up on a warm surface, so insulating a property reduces risk.
If condensation is found in one place, it may be that this is an uninsulated part of the house when everything else is insulated. This can occur when your wall is insulated but you have single glazing. Another common issue is an insulation gap at the top of wall, as small gaps tend to attract condensation.
However, insulation needs to be installed correctly. We have seen cases where insulation is actually the cause of damp issues. This shouldn’t be the case when insulation is installed properly, and as long as the home was suitable for the insulation method chosen – but insulation is not the solution to an existing damp problem.
In fact, it could make it worse or move it somewhere else. For example, if you had areas of defective external pointing before you installed cavity wall insulation, it could have been leaking down the cavity. When you fill the cavity, the insulation may cause dampness internally.
Moisture is rarely a desired house guest, and it can go beyond discomfort to serious effects. While it can be a complex issue, no one should have to live in damp conditions. Finding the root of the problem can be the first step in making changes that can bring improvements in quality of life for tenants and homeowners alike.
Nuven Surveyors is experienced in diagnosing problems associated with excess moisture in properties and can give advice to homebuyers, landlords or home owners in this regard. As always please do not hesitate to contact us for any informal advice and please direct formal enquiries to us for sensible, pragmatic and informed advice.
Nuven Surveyors operate across the South of England providing RICS Home Surveys, RICS Valuations, Damp Surveys, Thermal Imaging Surveys and New Build Snagging Surveys. We are here to guide you through the survey process and ensure that your dream home does not become a nightmare. Our surveyors are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and with that comes the experience and knowledge to provide you with an in-depth report. Our focus is on customer communication and local knowledge - each surveyor only operates within a small area from their base, allowing them to spend more time on each instruction to ensure they can offer our customers the best possible service.
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