To keep your house dry, warm, and free from mould, it is essential to keep it as watertight as possible. There are a few key areas where water can enter your house, and its important to understand what these areas are, and what checks you can perform to ensure everything is as it should be.
On your external walls, check to see if there is evidence of any of the following:
- Are the windows and window frames in good condition? Check for signs of rot in wooden windows also gaps around the window frames that could be letting in cold air and damp.
- Mortar in brickwork – is it up to scratch? Mortar joints should not have pieces missing or be eroded, this can cause structural weaknesses and penetrating damp.
- Does your property have damp proof course and is it working effectively? Look for a line of plastic bedded into the mortar joint approximately 150mm above you external ground level. In older buildings this could be a line of bitumen or even slate.
- Are any air bricks blocked? Look for bricks with horizontal holes in them normally placed at approximately 150mm above the external ground level, they should be free from blockages and obstructions to allow air movement through them.
Check your roof to find out if there are any of the following issues:
- Are your gutters blocked or broken? Leaves and debris can collect in gutters causing them to block, once blocked water overflows and often runs down walls creating moss and algae down the wall and possibly internal damp patches.
- Do you have any missing, broken or out of place tiles? Check for spaces on your roof where tile should be, they may have been displaced by storms or heavy winds.
- Is the chimney and its surround in good condition? Flashing around the chimney should be sealed into the chimney and flat over the tiles. Any lifting or damaged flashing should be replaced immediately to stop roof leaks.
It’s also important to be aware that if you have any climbing plants on your house, they could be hiding some of the above problems. Roots of trees near to your home may also cause damage to your foundations or damp proof courses.
Internally, there are a few areas to look out for:
- Check windows and walls for condensation. Normally you will see water drops on windows or cold surfaces, in more severe cases you may even experience black mould on various substrates. Kitchens and bathrooms are the areas where condensation is most likely to form due to cooking washing and drying of clothes. If you spot condensation, it is important to take positive steps to control the condensation. This can be done by installing ventilation systems to control the relative humidity (amount of moisture in the air) and using anti mould products to remove mould and stop it occurring the future.
- Is all your plumbing in good condition? Is there any damage or are there any visible cracks or leaks around sinks or toilets? Damp patches across floors and on walls can quite easily be from a leaking or damaged pipes. Normally damp patches will look like dark areas on walls, floors and even ceilings. Often once the leak has been rectified the damp patch will disappear. If the leak has been prevalent for a long time this may have caused rot within timber that will require remedial treatment by a professional.
If you spot any internal or external problems, it is important to take steps straight away to dry out any damp, and prevent further problems.
Where they is any doubt about the causes source or risks associated with water ingress, talk to a damp proofing expert.