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Damp is something that can really creep up on us, once spotted if can already have caused immeasurable damage to our homes. It also has a tendency to develop in the most awkward of places. Places that we may not check that frequently; such as behind furniture or in the corners where our walls meet. Once identified it can also be difficult to find the cause. Could it be a lack of ventilation? Poor insulation or just a general build-up of moisture over time. We may act quickly to wipe away the signs of damp, but this doesn’t get to root of the problem. Eventually the signs will reappear, and we need to start all over again.

What causes damp?

Rising damp’ is caused by a gradual build-up of moisture in our walls that soaks through over time without ever fully drying. This causes it to damage the materials and masonry as it steadily spreads and becomes more pronounced. By the time it becomes visible it may have already spread further than we can see, but there are things we can do to halt further damage, and repair the damage already caused. It may be time to call in the professionals. Damp proofing your home may now be the best way to ensure that rising damp doesn’t spread and stays away for good.

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What exactly is Damp Proofing?

In a nutshell Damp proofing is a professional service that specialises in eliminating signs of damp, finding the exact cause and making sure it never happens again. Some homes are more prone to damp than others. Decisions taken during the construction process can mean that some homes are highly suspectable to signs of damp while others are much more resistant. Damp proofing comes in various forms, while professional damp proofing experts are adept in finding and resolving the causes of rising damp, damp proofing itself refers to the practice of preventing future damage.

But how does this work? Once the damage has been located and resolved it's then that damp proofing can begin in earnest to make sure it never happens again. Professionals apply waterproofing techniques to the home’s walls, paying particular attention to foundation walls. This prevents the gradual build-up of moisture, stopping it in its tracks so no further damage can be inflicted on the premises.

No matter how well a structure is built, rising damp is always a risk until proper waterproofing techniques have been applied, sometimes they need to be reapplied. This is because its normal and natural for damp to rise out of the earth and into buildings, it can happen to any building. It may take decades, even centuries for the signs to show, but in time they can. Masonry, cement, bricks and paint all decay and break down over time. Even the most well-made buildings can eventually become susceptible to rising damp. The building may have been adequately waterproofed when it was built but that could have been a very long time ago.

How does Waterproofing work?

Waterproofing techniques like damp proofing, work when a physical and usually horizontal moisture barrier is applied to walls and floors. This stops any water residue traveling further, halting it in its tracks so it will evaporate before it spreads and causes further harm. Damp proofing is just one form of waterproofing but there are many more.

While damp proofing is intended to stop moisture from the soil getting into our houses, waterproofing is a much more general term. It is essentially the practice of stopping moisture build-up from anywhere, not just the ground. It’s also a much more comprehensive and technical service which is highly unique and dependant on the property in question. While damp proofing is something done to the foundation walls, waterproofing may be used on a roof or anywhere else.

What are the risks of damp?

The obvious risks of rising damp are cosmetic, such as wallpaper becoming sodden, plaster disintegrating and dirty water marks staining our walls and ceilings. But damp can be much more costly and dangerous if left unchecked. Damp can, in time, cause structural damage. This can mean that a building may need a new roof or new walls altogether which counts as major structural renovation. While insurance companies normally cover this kind of thing it’s often the homeowner’s responsibility to notice and rectify damp before it goes this far. If they have ignored it then an insurance company may be within their right to refuse to pay out.

There are also several health risks associated with damp, if left untreated damp can turn into mould that releases spores into the air. Not only can such spores cause a flair up of our allergies, but over time they can also lead to incredibly nasty respiratory ailments. Black mould’ for example is also known for potentially causing neurological disorders in some people, some of which can be fatal. In some countries there are insects that thrive in such a damp environment and can contribute to the damage by burrowing and chewing through our walls. This causes slow but steady structural damage which can become incredibly dangerous.

What can I do to prevent damp?

Damp is influenced by various factors, the humidity of our climate, the weather itself, how and when our building was constructed and finally how we maintain it. An effective central heating system helps our homes stay dry as the pipes warm the walls and cause moisture to evaporate. Although many homes with excellent central heating systems can still run the risk of rising damp, it doesn’t ensure protection from it, only contributes somewhat.

Ventilating a home well is also helpful, particularly rooms like kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms. Basically, anywhere where moisture is more likely to build up. Making sure ventilation shafts and systems are functioning correctly and that windows are opened regularly all helps in keeping an environment moisture free. Many homeowners also employ use of an electric dehumidifier too. These are helpful in draining excess moisture from the atmosphere of a home and help prevent a build-up of damp. It’s important to point out that the following techniques help keep damp away, but they don’t prevent it entirely. By the time damp becomes visible these methods will do little to treat it. The best thing at this stage is to call in some professional help.

What should I do when I notice rising damp?

We would recommend seeking assistance from a damp proofing professional as soon as you notice damp in your home. They will be able to help you identify where the damp is coming from and stop it from spreading, if the damage is minimal it may be a relatively quick fix. But if the damage is extreme it may lead to further work. A damp proofing professional will be able to advise what the best course of action may be.

What the damp proofing professional will be able to do for you however is apply their techniques to make sure your home is protected from further damage. If damp has built up once then it’s likely to happen again, simply fixing the existing problem isn’t enough. It needs to be stopped from coming back.

How much does damp proofing cost?

In the UK the average cost of a single damp proofing treatment for an average home is around £2000 to £3000. Of course, it depends on the size of the home and what exactly needs to be done. The damp proofing company may not only need to install their moisture barriers, but it may be necessary to install a damp proofing course too. This is when additional layers of damp proofing materials are applied to buildings that are particularly vulnerable to the elements and may need extra care and attention.

The good news is following one of these treatments, the providers will offer a guarantee of ten years, meaning if damp is to build up again in that time then they will be able to take care of it for you for free. But it’s highly unlikely damp will build up again after this, at least not for a very long time. Damp proofing techniques are now arguably better and more effective than they have ever been before. Modern homes tend to be built in different ways and should, in theory, already be damp proof. But this isn’t always the case.

Damp proofing however is more commonly requested by owners of older buildings which makes sense. They have existed longer and have had more time for damp to build up and become noticeable. Most damp proofing companies are usually happy to come out and visit a property to offer a quote. This way they can assess the damage for free and let you know how much it will be to repair it and prevent it from ever happening again.

If you notice the build-up of damp in your home or suspect it may be building up then consider calling the professionals for a free consultation. Peace of mind if priceless and it may save you thousands of pounds further down the line.

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