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Spotting damp signs in your home and how to handle it

No one wants to find out that they have damp in their home or business. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, damp can truly spoil your living space - and with the obvious health and comfort issues, it is always wise to spot any problems early and remedy them quickly.

According to Underfloor Heating Trade Supplies, damp can devalue the price of your property. At its worst, it signals that you have structural and weatherproofing issues that can be costly to fix.

Many new homes are built with damp proofing measures in place, but older homes and buildings are susceptible to this problem.

What causes damp?

Damp is caused by an excess of this moisture, which is caused by one of two factors:

  • A sudden increase in the moisture in your building

  • A gradual accumulation of moisture that cannot escape

Leaky plumbing/gutters, a hole in your rood, blocked windowsill groove, high humidity and condensation on windows and wall are some of the most obvious causes of damp.

How can I tell if I have a damp problem?

According to SA DAMP, once damp has become a problem in your home, you may begin to notice the following physical defects.

Damp proofing problems on the outside walls causes the mortar to fret and fall out between the bricks and stonework.

1.Mould and wet stains on skirting boards

2. Decayed or rotting timber

3. Crumbling plaster

4. Peeling, bubbling or flaking paint

5. Discolouration, mould growth and staining on walls

6. Salt stains and salt deposit build-up

Is damp a risk to my health?

Damp is often the perfect breeding ground for a variety of moulds and fungi. Spores, airborne mould concentrations and bacteria can be inhaled by humans, which can cause serious respiratory illnesses and other health problems.

While you might think you need to run to the phone and book a professional to come and deal with the problem, in most cases damp can be dealt with on your own.

Nico Nei of Waterproofing Durban, shares three things you can do to keep your home safe from damp…

1. Keep your home ventilated

Good ventilation will prevent the build-up of condensation, which can lead to damp problems. Make sure you keep your home well ventilated at all times, even if the temperature drops a little bit.

Air your house every day by opening the windows and letting the air circulate. You could also talk to a local builder about adding more vents to the kitchen or bathroom, which are both prone to damp as a result of condensation.

2. Regrout your tiles

Old or cracked grouting can leak and let extra moisture into your kitchen or bathroom. You can prevent this by simply regrouting your tiles.

3. Reduce moisture

A quick-and-easy way to protect your home from damp is to reduce the moisture. Less moisture means less condensation and a less damp atmosphere for mould to thrive in.

Easy ways to reduce your moisture include:

- Keeping the lid on saucepans while cooking.

- Only boiling the kettle when you need it.

- Drying clothes outside if possible

What is lateral or penetrating damp?

Lateral or penetrating damp is caused by water leaking through your walls, and is often the result of structural problems such as faulty guttering, roofing, flashing and cracks in the walls.

Rising damp may cause damp proofing problems on inside walls, which will likely include…

1. Paint not adhering to the wall

2. Wall paper lifts and stains appear on the walls

3. Plaster flakes away, feels soft, spongy and bubbles, and white powder or crystals appear

4. Skirting boards and floor boards rot.


Taking as many steps as you can to reduce and prevent damp will keep your home dry for years.


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