Damp problems are not just an aesthetic nuisance. In fact, dampness in the walls deteriorates the building structure. With structural damage, fungi and mould can also become a health hazard. So, you should remove all signs of dampness as soon as possible.
Old houses have old technology, which is usually super inefficient. Often, renovators need to modernise the heating to prevent any damp issues. But before renovation can occur, getting rid of any sign of moisture is essential. Mainly because humidity interferes with the ability of brickwork or wood to protect the building against the elements.
Photo by Thayran Melo on Unsplash
Different Types of Humidity
It may be surprising to find out that one can spend a million bucks on a renovation and continue to have damp problems. But humidity is the result of four different causes:
- moisture in the ground which moves to the walls (rising damp)
- condensation after sudden temperature changes
- leaking water pipes
- rainwater infiltration
Without a doubt, the first three situations are the most common. The fourth occurrence is instead a sign of lack of proper maintenance. Especially when the gutter system works fine and is not clogged.
Specialists also like to enumerate more causes. In fact, recent construction work can also leave behind residual moisture. Sometimes, electrical or chemical factors play a critical role. Or there may be slope pressure because of environmental modification around the house or facility.
About The Structural Damage
According to Damp Hero the relative humidity in your home is higher than 60%, structural damage can ensue. Of course, such conditions need to be constant for a while. But without the proper equipment to track humidity indoors, avoiding damp problems could prove to be impossible.
Moisture damage happens when the air contains water vapour above 60%. As a result, mould and mildew can grow in places like attics. And especially in basements. All that warm air rises and creates a problem for the rest of the building from the ground up. So much so that foundation issues are not off the list. It can be even worse if moisture finds its way into the brickwork, it could cause structural damage called spalling, which could lead to cracking in your bricks and cause issues for your home’s structure.
Of course, wood floors can sag or warp as well. But before that, clogged gutters and downspouts may add to the whole mess from the top down. In this last example, the trapped water finds its way into the house, causing damp spots on the ceiling. The latter could finally draw attention away from the more dangerous damage to the foundation.
The Risks of Renovating Without Solving Damp Problems
The first and more alarming issue is that humid, warm air can cause health issues for anyone within the premises. In detail, mould and mildew can spark asthma, allergy, or cold symptoms. But above all, removing mould and mildew will not fix the problem especially in bathrooms. First of all, because they will come back sooner than you think. But also because humidity will affect the indoor air quality.
In summer, high heat plus high humidity alter people's perception of heat. This combination could become an occupational hazard for stay-at-home elders or their caretakers. As the dampness can depend on the building design, unhygienic conditions will keep bothering the residents.
When poor construction materials cause damp problems, the plaster on the walls may come off at first. But water may soon fill the interconnected void within the bricks and concrete elements. After that, water could move by capillary action and reach other parts of the building, causing even more structural damage. In this case, the act of renovating itself could be a dangerous activity because of the weakened structure.
Furthermore, if you decide to start and continue moving forward with a renovation project before first dealing with any damp problems that you may have found within the property before starting, you could end up costing yourself a lot of stress and money in the future.
This should not stop you from renovating your home though. Instead, you should identify and fix the cause of the dampness. Many things can cause dampness in your property such as broken or damaged window seals, burst pipes, issues with your neighbour's plumbing or even weather penetration. Next, you will want to remove any remaining damp material. This can mean cutting out and removing the affected wood, plaster or even brickwork depending on how severe the dampness is within the property. Finally, you will be able to treat, replace and cover up all affected areas that had been damaged by the dampness.
If your DIY experience does not cover these particular skill sets, have no fear as this can easily be done through professionals such as Kent Plasterers. When there is a core problem that needs fixing, it is generally worthwhile getting a person or business with the relevant knowledge and skill set in to fix the issue so that it gets sorted the first time, and you can eliminate the worry of it returning at a later date.
If you are looking for a way to help deter any damp issues within your property, you could consider looking into dehumidifiers, or during the warmer and drier months, leaving your windows open for periods of time to allow for airflow.
Wood Rot And Home Value Analysis
Some people may want to renovate their property to sell it. But sadly, no home inspector would give an optimistic estimate if there is too much dampness. Likewise, energy efficiency experts would suggest fixing any problem related to crawl spaces before you put your house or facility on the market.
Home inspectors use a variety of tools to read humidity levels. In essence, these tools are moisture metres. With some of them, they can punch wood surfaces and read their internal humidity level. The gist of their procedures is that they will determine how much the building is worth depending on several readings.
High humidity levels let mycelium spores thrive. For clarity, fungal spores are the basis for wood rot. Serpula lacrymans are specially responsible for the most common type of rot in most homes lacking adequate ventilation. You do not have to be a real estate agent to guess how much these spores kill your home value.
Damp problems reduce the life span of any building. But at the same time, they make any renovation attempt futile. Humidity would cause paint to bleach, flake, and blister. It would also attract termites to the new furniture and deteriorate the unspoiled floor covering you just chose.
The plaster will come crashing down next. And damage to electrical installations could follow. As dampness causes metal corrosion, you might have to pay for extra mitigation measures as well. Even after a couple of months if the humidity level is extremely high.
Signs of dampness can only get worse year after year. If this situation goes on for too long, fungi will begin to eat and erode the lumber frame. The interior humidity will go up and damage your closets. This means that your leather shoes may harbour mould. At that point, it may be too big a problem for a quick fix. You might have to spend thousands of dollars just to repair the structural damage.
The Bottom Line
You should remove all signs of damp before renovation because excessive humidity is not a temporary issue. Of course, water leaks are dangerous and more noticeable. But those damp problems will come back to haunt you if you renovate too soon.
Remember that once you introduce fungi spores into your property, they will latch on not only to your walls and wooden structures. They will reach the most remote parts of your building and spread by sticking to your shoes and clothes. In the end, they will lower the structural value of the property and hinder any selling attempt.
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