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How to Check for Damp in Properties Before You Buy
Damp can be a problem in any home and one that can lead to numerous issues. All too often the problems aren’t found until it’s too late for those purchasing a property.
Buying a house with a major damp issue can prove problematic and will cost money to rectify. There are many ways of diagnosing damp, but what is the best way to do so before you actually buy a property? And what are the tell-tale signs? This post looks into the warning signs of damp in more detail and provides some information on the best course of action if purchasing a property with issues.
The Major Issues – Structural Problems & Buying a Home
The importance of getting a professional and thorough structural survey on a property before you buy cannot be underestimated. Major, and even dangerous, issues can otherwise be easily missed and cause you significant issues further down the line. Damp can be a primary cause of some of these issues. The below are some of the things a survey should identify:
- Structural Cracking (see more on how to treat cracks in walls)
- Rising Damp
- Penetrating Damp
- Timber Issues (see more details on how to identify and treat woodworm and dealing with fungal decay
Checking for Damp Before You Buy a house
Homebuyers should always check thoroughly for mould and damp problems before they commit to a sale. Often, homebuyers are naïve to the amount of remedial work their property will need in order to cure damp. While many cases of damp need simple and inexpensive damp proofing treatment, in extreme cases the structural integrity of the building may be at risk. This can result in lengthy and costly remedial work.
When viewing a property, take a look at the following areas to uncover damp warning signs before you buy a home:
Where to Check for Damp when viewing a property
You can instantly tell if the basement is suffering from damp. There can be evidence of moisture ingress and mould growth, combined with a damp and cold atmosphere. Moisture within the basement will quickly destroy paintwork, so look out for discolouration or damp patches on the walls. Basements can provide excellent inhabitable space but if there's water ingress and damp issues you'll have to undertake some significant work.
Do the floorboards feel spongy? This means the wood beneath the flooring is beginning to rot and decay because of moisture seeping in from the ground. This can be a costly repair.
Walls and ceilings
You will notice wall discolouration or paint and wallpaper peeling off the walls. Bad cases of damp may result to re-plastering using a damp proof membrane first of all to cure and prevent any further moisture seeping into the walls. Minimal black mould can be cured by a mould wash concentrate which will cleanse and eliminate black mould. Use an anti-mould paint, and only an anti-mould paint to redecorate the walls. Simply covering the walls with normal paint will not prevent further outbreaks – the mould will continue to come back.
Bathrooms may suffer from excessive condensation due to showering, bathing and the use of hot water. Condensation in bathrooms often leads to a rapid and unhealthy spread of black mould and other fungi. If the bathroom is suffering from condensation, you know mould is going to follow, and fast. Read our guide to dealing with bathroom condensation and removing mould for more information.
Airing cupboard with water heater
There is going to be a small amount of moisture damage surrounding the water heater. However, if the dry wall is soft in that room, there may be a chance of a larger moisture problem elsewhere in the property.
Sniff out the smell!
Keep your nose open to a musty smell. This is one of the first tail signs that a property is suffering from damp, even if you can’t see it.
The best way to ensure your property is completely clear from damp is to call in a surveyor to check the property for you. If damp is found, contact the vendor and negotiate the price. If the damage is minimal you could potentially cure the damp conditions yourself, however always consult a professional if you are not sure.
If you think there is an elevated issue or structural risks associated with the property you are intending to buy, you can commission a RICS Home Buyer’s Report to identify problems and look at a range of solutions.
If you are buying a property, the more major issues such as rising and penetrating damp need to identified and dealt with as soon as possible.
Rising damp is caused by moisture rising up through the walls and salts being deposited on internal fixtures, fittings and decorations. It’s relatively easy to misdiagnose and it’s always best to have a professional inspect the property before employing any fixes. You can do this before purchase with a professional damp survey.
You can read our guide to spotting and treating rising damp for some insights around warning signs when buying a property.
Roof problems on a property can also be to blame for penetrating damp – problems with tiles, guttering or chimney abutments are relatively easy to spot but can be expensive to fix so it’s worth knowing about them as soon as you possibly can.
Condensation is another form of damp which can be easy to spot. The one good thing about excess condensation is that it’s usually caused by existing occupants - if you are buying the property make sure you spot areas to improve including where to install extra ventilation and how to remove vegetation from outside walls.
You can browse our water repellants that are a good defence against penetrating damp once the root cause is fixed. We also take you through some of the telltale signs and overview of the best penetrating damp treatments.
Permagard - Providing Solutions. Inspiring Confidence.
Quite often, employing an expert damp proofing specialist to sort out the issues is more than enough. Injecting a chemical damp proof course and re-plastering and painting the walls is quick and generally affordable. Here at Permagard we are more than happy to advise you on the best solution for your home.