The cost of damp proofing your property
Damp can cause structural problems and pose serious health risks – so make sure your home is damp proofed properly now.
Damp is proven to be one of the most difficult and troublesome of household problems and many home owners struggle to deal with it. The appearance of damp may suggest some sort of internal leak in your pipe or guttering system that needs to be located and fixed or condensation problems. Left untreated damp can cause various forms of mould and fungi to thrive on the inside of the building, which can result in an infestation of mites or even put you and your family at risk of serious respiratory illnesses and infections.
Damp is usually caused by excessive condensation; water penetration into the plaster and brickwork of internal walls extracts salts which appear as unsightly white deposits known as efflorescence. The leaks also result in unattractive ‘tide marks’ appearing on the interior side of the wall, which can often spread rapidly and severely damage the structure and safety of the wall itself. Damp also rots wooden fittings and furniture and can loosen wallpaper, plaster and paintwork.
Although many buildings should have been damp proofed before purchase it’s often the case that previous home owners or contractors skipped over the problem rather than dealing with it straight away, meaning your walls aren’t built with the correct non-porous material or haven’t been sufficiently waterproofed. To deal with the problem before it gets too serious you should always avoid drying wet clothes on radiators and keep rooms, especially those below ground level, well ventilated; mould should be scrubbed away carefully (always wear gloves) and you can check for leaks in gutters and down-pipes yourself. Before the situation gets to the point where the building or you and your family’s health is at risk, you should always have the property professionally damp proofed, which can be achieved in a number of ways:
- Damp proof course – professionally abbreviated to DPC, a damp proof course is traditionally a horizontal barrier raised 150mm above the damaged wall, designed to divert rainwater and prevent the absorption of moisture and most specifically the onset of rising damp. Depending on the size/age of your home and extent of the damage, damp proof courses can cost anywhere between £500 and £2,000 for the fitting and installation, although just treating a single wall can cost less.
- Osmotic electric treatment – this involves inserting special wires (known as anodes) into the wall to temporarily provide a heat source that will dry out any lingering moisture. This treatment can take time but should cost less than £500 per instalment.
- Chemical injection – this is specifically designed for walls that weren’t originally pre-treated with waterproof chemicals and are thus more vulnerable to damp; such chemicals are simply inserted by a professional into the damaged walls to fight off the excess moisture. Each treatment costs anywhere between £600 and £1,000, depending on the size and location of the wall.
- Extractor fans – simple but effective options, extractor fans can be fitted into walls to improve ventilation by transferring warm, damp air outside. They often cost less than £100 and can be professionally fitted for around the same price.
- Humidifier – although they are traditionally thought to warm a room and increase airborne water levels, new humidifiers have now been developed that are designed to gently suck the moisture out of the air. They usually require electrical outlets and can be purchased from anything between £100 to £750, depending on the quality.
- Damp detector – this is more of a preventative measure than a cure but these new damp detectors are becoming more of a household necessity year on year; they are usually battery powered and can be hand-held or designed to be fitted to the wall and are usually priced at below £50.
Remember, although most home owners are perfectly capable of detecting damp themselves, you should call in a professional to inspect the property properly before deciding on which treatment your problem would be best suited to. Make sure they are affiliated with the Property Care Association (P.C.A) or are a Certified Surveyor in Remedial Treatment (C.S.R.T). Try to look around for the best quotes, as the inspection won’t be free, although it will provide you with a Damp Proofing Certificate that can prove extremely invaluable if you ever decide to sell your home. Even if you don’t, you’ll have a warm and cosy environment to relax in, without any worry for your health and safety.