How to Treat Damp…

But first, let me tell you a little “how to treat damp” story…..

how to treat a damp wall image

Too late......

A few years ago I issued an invoice for £5100 for a leaking gutter on the house of a client of mine. Over £5,000! and before you rush off and tell everyone that I must be one of those cowboy builders, let me explain how ignoring damp cost him dearly.

My client had lived in his lovely old period cottage for many years but slowly the ingress of water turned his “shabby chic” cottage into, well, just shabby really! And all because of a leaking gutter. In fact the gutter wasn’t even leaking really, but rather was not catching the water as it had been poorly installed by a builder, now surely long dead.

All that water was pouring down the brickwork, around a wooden window and for the grand finale into the wall and around the ends of the first floor joists. Of course over decades the window and the joist ends turned to a mushy, soggy mess. Replacing joist ends is not a five minute job. Hence the huge bill. All this could have been avoided as the ill fitting gutter could have been fixed for under £100, or 10 bob if it had been done decades ago instead of being ignored.

Water is the greatest enemy of your old house, it is trying to get in absolutely everywhere, through the roof, through the walls and even up out of the ground. It pours out of your appliances and even your lifestyle, all into the fabric of your house.

As for my advice, it is two fold….

  1. how to treat damp in an old house with ventilation

    Ventilation works...

    Firstly, ensure that the house can breathe. That means a little ventilation in each room using trickle vents in windows or air bricks in the walls. Also resist the temptation to paint sealers on the brickwork which often just moves the problem to somewhere else.

  2. image of approaching rain, time to look at the roof

    Go get your rain gear...

    Secondly, next time it is pouring down with rain, don your raincoat and your sou’wester and go outside (ignore the looks from the neighbours) and slowly walk around your property and have a good look at where all that rain is going. Look for water going where it is not supposed to, running down walls, drips and spills etc etc.

You might think this is daft but you might be amazed at what you notice and you just might just save yourself a bundle by spotting a problem before any damage is done to the fabric of your home.

If you want to learn more about treating damp in houses I can recommend  Jonathan Hetreed’s book, Damp House; A Guide to the Causes and Treatment of Dampness. (or here if you are in the states). Jonathan is an architect, learning his trade at Cambridge and his book will give you a good understanding of what type of damp problem you have and some of the potential cures available to you.

If you are still asking yourself “how do I treat damp”? With respect, is the answer! Damp has the potential to make you very unhappy indeed, not to mention ill and poorer 😉

Feel free to leave a comment about your own damp story’s or problem or if you need some advice about your own home.

Stay well

2 Responses to How to Treat Damp…

  1. Ian says:

    Hi Stephen, the folks at SPAB were invaluable to be back in the day when I made the transition from cement to lime mortars as a result of the properties I was working on getting older and older. My personal bugbear on older properties is paving and worse, concrete right upto the brickwork. I love to see gravel or other decorative stone in deep borders (set at the right height) around old brickwork, less splashback, water can drain away and not pool against the wall and the ground can breathe.
    Thanks for stopping by!
    Ian

  2. Stephen Pollard says:

    Agree 100%. So many people try to treat the symptom of the damp (e.g. apply ‘Stain Blockers’ etc to walls) rather then the cause and often end up trapping moisture in rather than stopping it from going in in the first place! Anyone interested in some common causes of water ingress would find these videos interesting:
    http://www.webvu.co.uk/spab/

I'd love to know what you think...