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When it’s pouring down outside, there’s no better place to be than in your own home, warm and dry. But what are you going to do when your house starts to let water in? Water in your house can cause damp, mould, and even wet rot. Condensation and damp can be caused by a number of reasons: drying out wet clothes, showers, kettles, and even our breath, and if it’s left unchecked, it could cause structural problems to your building.

What is Condensation?

Condensation can form when there’s a difference between temperatures inside and outside, and enough humidity in the air. This will lead to damp and mould, and will certainly rot your window frames. Fortunately, condensation is easy to deal with. Just wipe it down with a cloth, and simply rinse it down the drain. If the condensation still persists, try covering up your pots whilst cooking, not letting the kettle boil as long, keep the room well-ventilated, and in some extreme cases, you may need to use a dehumidifier. But do deal with condensation the moment you find it, because if you don’t, it will turn into mould.

Bad condensation issues on window interior

Extreme condensation on inside of window

What is Mould?

Mould is a fungus that thrives in humid conditions. Wash down all the infected area with a Health and Safety Executive-approved fungicidal wash. Once you’ve cleared all the mould and you’ve left it to dry out, redecorate if necessary using a fungicidal paint and wallpaper paste. But try to keep the room well-ventilated at all times with airbricks, or even leaving the window open.

Damp and mildew on wall

Damp and mildew on wall

What is Damp?

How about if it’s something more serious, like damp?

Whether it’s rising damp or penetrating damp it can cause serious structural problems to your home, and if it’s left unattended, it can perish your plasterwork, damage your paintwork, and even ceilings can come collapsing down. Damp is easy to spot – it leaves tide marks, it’s dark, it’s cold to touch, and it comes in two forms.

Penetrating damp: that’s when you have a crack in the wall or the ceiling, which will let the rain water come in. It can even come in from gutters and downspouts, and even rubbish left outside, piled up against the wall – that can help penetrating damp draw its way through the brickwork.

The other one is rising damp – that’s when you haven’t got a sufficient DPC (which is a Damp-Proof Course) in the brickwork to stop water table of the ground penetrating its way through.

Salt deposits on walls

Salt deposits on wall caused by damp issues

If it’s penetrating damp, you may be able to solve this yourself – find out where the water’s coming from, fix it, dry it out using a dehumidifier if you’ve got one, and then replaster if necessary and finish with the paintwork. If you do think you’ve got rising damp, you shouldn’t attempt to tackle this yourself: your whole house may need a new Damp-Proof Course. You’re going to need to use a qualified contractor because left untreated, it could lead to yet another problem.

If damp or moisture gets into your woodwork, it can cause wet rot. Wet rot is a fungus that gets into damp wood. It starts to deteriorate it from the inside out, it gives a dark wet appearance with cracks in the timber. Although it’s not as serious as dry rot, it can do serious damage to your timbers, but you should be able to treat it yourself.

Dry rot causing timber to crumble

Dry rot has caused the timber to crumble

Repairing the Damage Caused by Damp, Rot and Condensation

First of all you need to establish where the water’s coming in, and then, of course, deal with it. Then you need to find out which timbers are rotten and need replacing. You can do this by getting yourself a sharp tool like a bradawl, simply pressing it through the wood, and if you find it goes all the way through quite easy, you know that it’s completely decayed – it has to be replaced with new. But remember, once you’ve removed all your rotten wood, you need to treat the area with a wet rot fungicide, covering all the areas where the fungus could be hiding before you apply any new wood.

If you want to stop your problems with damp popping up again, then always make sure your roof is properly maintained, that there aren’t any cracks in your walls, and that nothing that might be collecting water is piled up against your external walls. And keep rooms that are prone to condensation well-ventilated, and always address a problem the moment you discover it, because they won’t get better on their own.

If you would like to find out a little more about various damp issues and how to diagnose and fix them, check out all of our damp projects here.

More About Craig

Craig Phillips

Craig Phillips, experienced builder and Big Brother winner, is a guest author for DIY Doctor and an ambassador for Checkatrade.com. You can Find out even more about Craig here, or even visit Craig here on Google+.

If you have a job that’s too big or complicated for you to do yourself, find a reviewed, approved and reputable tradesperson here.


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