Damp has been found in properties since we lived in caves! During the feedback sessions after our surveys, this is one of the most worrying issues for our clients. They often prick up their ears at the mention of dampness in a property! A recent survey suggests that 67% of people would consider pulling out of a purchase if damp was discovered.
Why is it such a problem? Dampness does not just damage decorations, wallpapers and paintwork. Where it has been present for some time it can damage adjacent timbers, leading to expensive structural problems. How might you detect it without the sophisticated meters that we use? During a viewing, your best friend in this quest is your nose – damp timbers give off a recognisable musty smell. This is often hard to mask, even with air freshener or the old favourites of coffee or baking bread.
We normally split dampness into 4 categories:
This is moisture rising up the walls of the building from ground level. Look out for ‘tide marks’ around the base of the walls indoors, perhaps just darker paint near floor level. Look for salts crystallising on the surface of the wall or blistering to the paintwork finishes. Can you see rust forming on the nails holding the skirting boards or along the metal angle beads at corners? If so, this indicates that the dampness has been occurring for a long time.
This is dampness penetrating through the roof or walls. Look for stains around the ceilings of the upper floor, beneath the roof. Especially look around chimney breasts and under window sills for brown staining. However, penetrating damp can be easily confused with condensation as they both normally occur in vulnerable parts of the building, such as in corners of rooms or around windows.
Condensation can occur anywhere in the property.For dampness issues beneath a room with stripped flooring,look at the nail heads to see if they have rusted. If so, this suggests excessive moisture in the area.
Bathrooms are notorious for condensation problems so inspect them thoroughly for mould growth. This normally appears in the corners of rooms and takes on a crescent shape due to air movement in the room. Mould can also appear behind large items of furniture so take a sneaky peek behind wardrobes. This mould suggests condensation related problems. Often painted over by canny vendors, the paintwork is still darker so inspect the corners of rooms thoroughly, especially if they have sloping ceilings.
One of the most common reasons for escape of water claims with insurance companies is failed seals. Look out for cracks to the grouting in bathrooms and also for failed seals around kitchen sinks, baths and showers. There might even be a darker stain on the ceiling of the room below the bathroom, a real giveaway.
Also have a look underneath the WC cistern. Modern close-coupled toilets in particular often leak –and what about that plastic tub beneath to catch any drips?!
Do you already have suspicions about dampness in a property ? If you have used our services previously, just contact our office with your invoice number and we will arrange to loan you a damp meter to use during your viewing. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say –