You may have been reading recently about the danger of damp in homes. During our cold and wet winters, it’s a common problem. And when homes are poorly maintained, it can be much worse. If you’re a homeowner, you may be worrying about damp forming or you might be suffering from it already. But in most cases, a simple home maintenance routine is all that’s needed to keep it at bay.
Check your roof
Although it’s not recommended for any homeowner to climb up on their roof, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it over from time to time.
All you need to do is stand back from your home – from the bottom of your garden or from the pavement on the opposite side of the road – and look up at the roof. If you’re struggling to see your roof clearly, grab a pair of binoculars to get a closer look from the ground.
Telltale signs of problems are chipped, slipped and cracked tiles and missing pieces of lead flashing. These typically allow rainwater to find its way inside your home, leading to damp patches on walls and ceilings. Spotting these problems early can save you from long-term damage.
Clear your gutters
Gutters are there to channel rainwater into the ground or the sewer but they can block up with leaves and other debris, preventing them from working properly. This causes rainwater to collect and spill over the sides of your gutters and into your walls. Sometimes when dirt is left in your gutters for a long time, weeds and moss can start to grow. This has the potential to damage your guttering and roof and increases the risk of moisture getting into your home.
The cost of gutter clearing is typically around £75 for a small house but if scaffolding is needed, then you can add between £200 and £300 to this total. It’s a good idea to get guards fitted to your gutters and downpipes at the same time, so they won’t get clogged up again quickly. This will save you money in the future.
Cap your chimney
If you have a chimney, it’s important to understand that this is open to the elements, including rain, sleet and wind. This means it’s a prime place for moisture to seep in and build up.
Fitting a cap or cowl cap not only helps to stop moisture but also prevents debris and nesting birds, which can also exacerbate damp problems. For homes that have a working fireplace or stove, it also improves the efficiency of fires and minimises the smoke inside the home, so it’s essential to fit one. You can get one fitted for around £200. If you’re getting any repairs done to your roof, it’s a good idea to ask for a cap to be installed at the same time.
Improve air flow
A lack of air flow around your home can stop moisture escaping. Instead it can cling to walls and ceilings and even cause floors and woodwork to rot. Air bricks and vents can be found in old and new homes, and they’re there to help air circulate freely. As we all look to improve energy efficiency, it can be tempting to block these vents up to reduce draughts but this is a mistake. So, have a check around your home and make sure your vents are kept clear.
Sometimes as we add more insulation, such as roof and floor insulation, it’s necessary to add in new vents. If you’re finding condensation in your loft, this is a sure sign you need to improve ventilation.
To improve air flow around your home, it’s also worth opening windows and internal doors now and again. This can prevent moisture from clinging to your bathroom walls or causing damp in rooms where you’re drying laundry.
Reduce moisture build-up
But what if you’re still finding there’s too much moisture inside your home? And how do you know if moisture levels are too high? Condensation on windows and the formation of mildew in corners and on grouting and sealant are sure signs.
So, how do you go about reducing it? Well, you can avoid drying clothes indoors, open windows frequently and put lids on your pans when you cook. This should reduce moisture. But there are other things you can do. Installing extractor fans in both the kitchen and bathroom to combat the steam is a good step. And when you can’t avoid drying clothes inside, you can use a dehumidifier to help absorb the moisture it creates.