How To Spot The Signs of Damp In Your Home

When it comes to keeping your home comfortable and secure, spotting the signs of damp is a good skill to practice. This is one area where swift action can make all the difference; damp can quickly get out of control, causing severe and possible expensive damage to your home.

What Is Damp?

Damp is essentially unwanted moisture, which is typically present in the floors, ceilings or walls of a home. It comes in many forms, with rising damp being one of the most well known; this tends to affect the walls of a building, and occurs when the moisture present in the ground travels up the wall, through small tubes in the bricks – similar to sucking up through a straw. The water also contains salt, and this can cause its own damage.

Damp may be caused by a number of reasons, including:

  • Broken, damaged or missing roof tiles
  • Porous bricks
  • Leaking pipes
  • Moisture emerging from the soil

What Are The Problems Caused By Damp?

Damp can cause serious structural problems to your home, damaging foundations and integrity. In addition, any existing respiratory or health issues, such as asthma, can be exacerbated by damp in the home.

What Are The Signs of Damp?

In some cases, damp can be obvious, but spotting the signs early allows you to implement the best treatment and seek action as rapidly as possible.  In the early days, you may notice a strange damp, dank, musty smell which you cannot pinpoint, and which refuses to go even after extensive cleaning. You may also be able to feel a damp patch on the floor or wall.

Some of the most common signs include:

  • Damp patches which appear to start at the bottom of the wall, and move slowly upwards – you may be able to feel this
  • Noticing that floor coverings, including carpet or vinyl, are wet, and appear to be lifting away from the floor
  • Skirting boards or plaster which is rotting, or feels damp
  • Noticing a white or powdery, salt-like substance on the wall, or a strange yellow or brown stain
  • Wallpaper or paint which is peeling, or which feels crunchy when you move your hand across the salt
  • Excessive condensation on the windows or glass doors
  • Dark or discoloured patches
  • Feeling unexpected cold patches on walls or floors
  • Seeing mouldy patches, or mildew, on the ceiling, floor or wall

Because the cause of damp can be difficult to trace it is wise to eliminate potential causes. As a Leak Detection company we often get calls from homeowners with damp that they suspect to be from a hidden water leak, we are able to thoroughly test your pipework and heating system for hidden water leaks – but are not experts in damp. If we were to find a water leak then our fees are normally reclaimable from your home insurance under a section of your home insurance policy called “Trace and Access“. If your furnishings have been damaged by the damp then you will need Matching Sets Cover to be able to claim for the damage caused by damp.

Can Damp Walls Be Fixed?

In some cases, a simple replacement of the existing bricks and mortar can be enough to fix your problem; you can also invest in a specialist exterior silicone paint, designed to repel water, which can help prevent the risk of the problem recurring.

In most cases, however, you are far better off consulting the experts. An experienced surveyor will be able to complete a thorough investigation of the site, and has the knowledge to identify the specific type of damp, as well as potential causes. They may also advise on potential repairs, such as fitting new damp-proof barriers or damp course, or sealing internal walls and floors in damp-proofing material. In some cases, you may also be advised to replace or fit a cavity tray – this can help prevent any water on the outside from reaching the internal wall, reducing the risk of dampness.

Will I Be Covered By Insurance?

In some cases, issues around damp may be covered by your home insurance – either home insurance, or buildings coverage. This is far from guaranteed however, so it is important to ensure that you check the small print of your policy carefully – you may be required to purchase this as an add on. In most cases, however, it is cost effective – the damage caused by damp can be extensive and costly, so having that extra peace of mind is reassuring. We have a guide on How to make a water leak insurance claim on our blog.