Damp Survey Tips

DIY Damp Survey Tips: What Homeowners Need to Know

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Key Takeaways:

  • DIY Damp Survey Tips: Conducting a DIY damp survey is essential for homeowners to identify and address moisture issues before they worsen. Key considerations include watching for signs like peeling wallpaper and musty smells, checking external walls for dampness, inspecting guttering and roofs for water ingress, and addressing condensation-prone areas.
  • Identifying Causes of Dampness: Understanding the root causes of dampness is crucial before attempting any treatment. Two common causes are penetrating dampness and rising dampness. Penetrating dampness results from water entering through external walls, damaged guttering, or roof damage, leading to issues like mold growth and peeling wallpaper.
  • Rising Damp Treatment: Rising dampness poses concerns for homeowners, but effective treatment options are available. Damp proofing, involving the installation of a damp-proof course (DPC) to create a barrier against ground-level moisture, is a common solution. DPCs can be made from various materials and are typically placed around 150mm above ground level.

While a damp home is unpleasant and can lead to serious issues like mold growth and structural damage if left untreated, many damp problems can be addressed through simple DIY fixes and surveys. As homeowners, we want to understand the root causes of any moisture issues cropping up and tackle them before they worsen. 

In this guideline, I’ll share some easy DIY tips for conducting a basic damp survey of your property to identify potential trouble spots. Knowing where and how moisture may enter your walls, crawl spaces, or basement is key to effectively addressing damp concerns. A few hours of checking over high-risk areas could help you catch small problems before they escalate and save money on repairs versus ignoring the signs of excessive moisture. 

Let’s get started with some simple checks you can do around your home.

DIY Damp Survey Tips

DIY Damp Survey Tips: Know What to Look For

Watch for signs like peeling wallpaper and musty smells when conducting a DIY damp survey. Check external walls for dampness, inspect guttering and roofs for water ingress, and be wary of excess moisture or high humidity. 

Prioritize air circulation—maintain extractor fans, open windows, and dry clothes outside. Look out for condensation-prone areas like windows and skirting boards. Address porous materials and suspect rising dampness, checking the damp proof course. 

Simple fixes, like improving ventilation, can mitigate some damp issues, but identifying root causes is crucial. Seek professional advice when in doubt to prevent further damage. Proactive damp prevention avoids costly repairs, preserving your home’s condition.

Identifying the Causes of Dampness

When it comes to damp problems, it’s essential to identify the root causes before attempting any damp treatment. Two common causes of dampness are penetrating dampness and rising dampness. This section will discuss these types of dampness and how to recognize them.

  • Penetrating Damp

This type of dampness is caused by water entering the property through external walls, damaged guttering, or roof damage. Penetrating dampness can lead to mold growth, peeling wallpaper, and even dry rot if left untreated. To identify penetrating damp problems, look for damp patches on walls and ceilings and check for any signs of water ingress. You can prevent penetrating dampness by promptly repairing any damaged external walls, windows, or roof tiles.

  • Rising Damp

It occurs when moisture is drawn up from the ground, and it is most common in properties without a damp-proof course or where this has failed. Rising dampness is often visible as a tide mark on internal walls, peeling wallpaper, or damp and cold surfaces near ground level. Ensure your property has a damp-proof course and functions correctly to prevent rising dampness. If you suspect rising dampness, it is essential to seek professional advice.

DIY Damp Survey Tips

Performing a Simple Damp Test to Determine the Source 

Damp problems in homes can cause significant damage if left untreated. Therefore, homeowners must conduct a damp survey to locate potential issues in their property and prevent them from escalating. A simple damp test is one easy DIY way to check for damp problems.

  • Conducting a Simple Damp Test

To perform the test, check walls for signs of dampness, such as peeling wallpaper, mold growth, or stains. You can also use a moisture meter to measure moisture levels. Avoid checking the walls on a cold day with little air circulation, as this may not provide an accurate reading.

Next, check external walls for signs of water ingress. If you have damaged guttering or downspouts, this can cause water to run down external walls and penetrate the interior. Check for any exterior wall damage, including windows and roof damage.

  • Checking Ground Levels

Ground levels close to external walls should also be checked. If the ground level is higher than the damp-proof course, there is a risk of penetrating damp. The damp-proof course is a horizontal layer of material installed in walls to prevent moisture from rising from the ground.

  • Assessing Humidity Levels

Another indicator of a damp problem is high humidity levels. Use an electronic humidity meter to check the levels in your home. If the humidity is above 65%, this can lead to excess moisture, which can cause damp problems.

  • Removing Excess Moisture

If there is too much moisture in your home, you can improve air circulation by opening windows or using extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens. Additionally, avoid drying clothes indoors, as this can add moisture to the air. If you notice a room has high humidity levels, consider using a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture.

Check out Damp solutions – DIY tips.

Rising Damp Treatment

Rising Damp Treatment: Solutions for Preventing Moisture From Rising

When tackling damp problems in your home, rising dampness can be especially concerning. Rising dampness occurs when moisture from the ground seeps into your walls, potentially causing damage to your property and creating unhealthy living conditions. 

Fortunately, there are several effective rising damp treatment options available to homeowners.

  • Damp Proofing

Damp proofing is one of the most common solutions for preventing rising dampness. This method involves installing a damp proof course (DPC) into the base of your walls to create a barrier against ground-level moisture. DPCs can be made from various materials, such as plastic, slate, or bitumen felt, and are typically placed around 150mm above ground level.

  • Penetrating Damp Problems

Another common damp problem is penetrating damp, which occurs when water enters through external walls and causes damage to internal walls and décor. To prevent this, homeowners can take measures to improve air circulation, such as opening windows and installing extractor fans in particularly humid areas (such as bathrooms and kitchens). Checking for roof damage and damaged guttering can also help prevent water ingress.

  • Excessive Moisture

Excessive moisture can accumulate in homes through typical daily activities, such as cooking and showering. To eliminate excess moisture, opt for a tumble dryer or a dehumidifier rather than drying clothes indoors. Elevated humidity may stem from cold surfaces like windows and skirting boards, so it’s crucial to insulate these areas to thwart the formation of dampness on these surfaces.

  • Damp Survey

Conducting a damp survey can be an effective DIY approach to identifying the root cause of a damp problem. This survey can involve checking moisture levels in the property, looking for signs of mold growth, and inspecting external walls and ground levels for damage. However, if the problem persists, seeking professional advice is recommended.

  • Preventing Dampness

As with many household issues, prevention is key to preventing dampness. Ensuring proper air circulation, checking for water damage, and maintaining good ventilation are simple solutions that can prevent rising dampness and other moisture-related problems. Additionally, if porous bricks or ground levels are causing the issue, addressing these underlying factors can help prevent further moisture from being absorbed into the walls.


Penetrating Damp

Signs Your Home May Have Penetrating Damp and How to Treat It 

Penetrating dampness is caused by water entering your home through external walls, usually due to defects or damage to the building’s structure. If not addressed promptly, it can lead to significant challenges, such as mold development, structural deterioration, and potential health concerns. Detecting the early indicators of this issue is crucial, and it is essential to implement the required measures to rectify the situation. The following are signs to be vigilant about and the corresponding methods to mitigate them:

  • Signs of Penetrating Damp

– Damp patches on internal walls

– Peeling wallpaper or blistered paint

– Musty smells

– Mould growth

– Stains or dampness around windows and doors

– Damage to the building structure

– Visible signs of water ingress

– High humidity levels

  • How to Treat Penetrating Damp
  1. Identify the root cause: It’s crucial to find the source of the problem before taking any remedial measures. It could be a damaged guttering system, roof damage, or porous bricks, allowing water to seep into your home.
  1. Remove excess moisture: Once you have identified the source, it’s important to remove it to prevent further damage. Use extractor fans, open windows, and dry clothes outside to reduce humidity.
  1. Repair any damage: Repair any damage to external walls, windows, or roofs. Particular attention should be paid to ground-level external walls, which are most vulnerable to water ingress.
  1. Dampproofing: Dampproofing your home is an effective way of preventing dampness. It can be done by applying a damp proof course to the walls or using a damp proof paint.
  1. Seek professional advice: For more severe cases of penetrating damp problems, it’s advisable to seek professional advice. They can diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action.

Is Damp Proof Needed? When to Call in the Professionals.

Moisture is a prevalent concern in numerous households and can stem from diverse sources like inadequate ventilation, leaky pipes or roofs, and condensation. If left unattended, moisture-related problems can inflict substantial harm to your property’s infrastructure and may even give rise to health issues such as respiratory problems.

When should you consider calling in professionals for damp proofing?

  • Assessing the Severity of Damp

Before you call in professionals, assessing the severity of dampness in your home is important. You can address the issue with a simple DIY fix if you notice small damp patches on your walls or ceilings. However, if the damp has spread throughout your home and is causing significant damage, it’s best to seek professional help.

  • Damp Proofing Solutions

If you’re experiencing a recurring damp problem, consider damp-proofing solutions. It includes measures such as installing a damp-proof course, tanking, or using a waterproof membrane. These solutions can help prevent moisture from penetrating your walls and protect the structure of your home from further damage.

  • When to Call in the Professionals

Suppose you require further understanding of the extent of moisture-related issues in your residence that cannot be resolved through basic do-it-yourself remedies. In that case, seeking guidance from a damp-proofing specialist is advisable. These experts possess the necessary knowledge and skills to pinpoint the reasons for dampness and offer viable solutions to deter its reoccurrence.

Maintaining Your Home’s Damp Protection 

Preventing dampness is much easier and less costly than rectifying the problem once it has set in. 

Here are some maintenance tips to protect your home from damp:

  1. Regularly check for damp or mold growth signs and immediately act if detected.
  1. Keep gutters and downpipes clear of debris to avoid water accumulating. 
  1. Check for roof damage and repair as necessary.
  1. Keep ground levels around your home lower than your damp-proof course to prevent water ingress.
  1. Ensure your home is adequately ventilated with extractor fans and opening windows.

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Wrapping Up

Overall, dampness in your home can be an overtaking problem if addressed. Thankfully, taking the simple DIY steps discussed here to identify potential trouble spots for moisture can help catch issues before they become major ones. Regularly checking areas of your walls, crawl spaces, and basements for signs of excessive moisture is key to maintaining a healthy home. 

Don’t forget that if identifying a cause proves too difficult or you find the affected areas are beyond reproach, contacting a professional is always your best option for guaranteed results. 

With these tips in mind and some regular maintenance checks, you should have no problem preventing or managing damping very quickly and easily.

Picture of Jake Fitzgerald - Damp Surveyor

Jake Fitzgerald - Damp Surveyor

Surveyor of Timber & Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB) & ( MRICS ) Chartered Quantity Surveyor

Jake is a qualified chartered quantity surveyor and experienced damp specialist with a unique skill set in thermal imaging. With a focus on effective solutions, Jake combines his expertise in quantity surveying and thermal imaging to accurately assess and address damp-related issues. He utilises advanced technology to identify hidden moisture sources and develop targeted strategies, ensuring comprehensive and cost-effective solutions for his clients. With a commitment to open communication and client satisfaction, Jake delivers cutting-edge solutions that tackle damp challenges head-on.

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