Damp Walls

Damp Walls In Your Home

gutters

I posted on my blog, in November last year, about damp walls that arise as a result not having gutters on your home to control the flow of rainwater off your roof.

On Saturday I inspected a four-year-old property that had a one tile overhang on the roof, no gutters but had paving surrounding the house.

However, the external walls of the house were in a desperate state because of the three most destructive mistakes architects, developers, builders and homeowners make!

As a result, I’m going to repeat part of the issues mentioned in my blog again!

Damp walls caused by no gutters

Gutters collect the rainwater runoff from the roof, discharging it into downpipes which conveys the rainwater away from the house in a controlled manner. In addition, they also protect the timber roof structure at the eaves of the house. Furthermore, gutters protect the exterior walls, windows and doors of the house and its foundation from damp and potential damage.

damp walls

The splashing up against the walls was the most serious cause of the penetrating damp on the walls of the house. Moreover, the crazing cracking (spiderweb-like fine cracking) in the plasterwork was the main indicator of the penetrating damp caused splashing up of rainwater. No cracking was observed higher up on the walls.

Even if your house has a reduced overhang at the eaves, gutters will still provide the required protection against heavy rain and wind storms your house may be subjected to.

Insufficient roof overhang at the eaves

Roofs with no gutters which have a two-tile overhang (600mm in the case of a metal roof) or less will allow water to pour from the roof close to the walls, windows and doors and the foundation.

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Mould and Sleep Loss

Health Risks of Mould in the Home: Sleep Loss

sleep loss

WC: 529

Do you suffer from sleep loss?

Did you know that one way to identify a mould problem in your home is watching your water bill? Leaks and damp surfaces are primed for mould growth, especially in areas that are prone to collection surfaces and warmth—think your bathrooms, kitchen and basement.

In addition to leaky pipes, many people don’t realize that mould can form in other disguised areas of your home such as on your mattress. Whether you sleep in a damp room, spill a glass of water that is absorbed into your mattress, or sweat a lot at night, your mattress may be primed for mould growth. Mattresses can include soft, porous materials such as cotton covers or foam comfort layers, any of which can absorb moisture both inside and outside of your mattress.

So, while you may know to check your pipes or understand that your basement, kitchen, and bathrooms are often culprits of leaks and potential areas of mould growth, keep in mind that places such as your bedroom may hide a serious mould problem.

Here are five ways indoor mould causes sleep loss

Sleep Loss

Mould impacts the air quality in your house by releasing glucans which can cause an inflammatory response to your respiratory system. In turn, it affects your ability to breathe effectively by prompting your body to go into a fix-it mode such as an increase in mucus production which builds up and makes it difficult to breathe.

Sleep Apnea

It is estimated that nearly 22-million people are affected by sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a dangerous and potentially deadly problem wherein a person momentarily stops breathing. The result is gasping or snoring as the person’s brain tries to readjust breathing. Sleep apnea is caused by the blockage or narrowing of the airways that is often the result of congestion associated with mould.

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Leaks at Window Sills

Moisture Intrusion at Window Sills

window sills

During many property inspections, I keep coming across moisture problems associated with water leaking into window sills and at windows.

Moisture absorbed into brickwork and plasterwork causes them to expand slightly. When the brickwork and plasterwork dry they contract slightly. The water absorbed by the bricks and plasterwork usually causes a slight vertical crack at the edges of the internal window sills. The paint then starts to bubble along the vertical crack. This crack may continue around the length of the window sill before you notice it. What started out as a small vertical crack then becomes a horizontal crack along the bottom of the window sill on the interior face of the sill wall.

The cracks are usually not significant unless allowed to continue unabated.

Rising Damp

Sometimes the moisture intrusion at sills are mistaken for rising damp! Water leaking in at the window sill may bypass the damp proof course (DPC) built in under the window sill as a water-resistant barrier. The moisture may then appear as bubbling paint or crazing cracking of plasterwork, or both, below the window, extending down to floor level.

On external face-brick walls, this may appear as efflorescence (a white powder).

Internally, this may appear as bubbling paint above the skirting or discolouration of the skirting itself.

How do you prevent the moisture intrusion into window sills?

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Mould and Moisture

mould

Mould & Moisture

mould and musty smells
If it smells musty it is mould. It can adversely affect your health. If you suffer a pre-existing respiratory condition such as asthma, mould can aggravate the condition.

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Ten Things You Should Know:

Mould can occur in your home and workplace anywhere in South Africa. If a room or cupboard smells musty it means it has!

Potential health effects and symptoms associated with exposure to mould include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints. It is impossible to eliminate all moulds and spores indoors. All moulds can be found on any surface where moisture is present, e.g. on wood, paper, carpet, and foods. Mould growth is best controlled by controlling moisture.

  • Clean and eliminate sources of moisture.
  • Repair all leaks.
  • Reduce indoor humidity to between 30-50% by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside.
  • Increase ventilation by using air-conditioners, dehumidifiers, exhaust fans and open windows whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
  • Clean and dry any damp or wet bedding and furnishings within 24 hours.
  • Clean mould off hard surfaces with water and specialised detergents, and dry completely.
  • Replace damp or wet absorbent materials, e.g. mouldy ceiling tiles, carpeting, insulation etc.
  • Reduce condensation on cold surfaces (i.e. metal roofing, under-tile membranes, water piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  • Prevent condensation on windows in living rooms and bedrooms by keeping the windows slightly open during cold spells and at night in winter. In humid climates keep windows open 24/7.
  • Do not install carpets or other types of flooring that is not water-resistant in areas with a frequent condensation or perpetual moisture problems, e.g. bathrooms, kitchens, laundries, sculleries, at drinking fountains, or areas that may be exposed to the elements.

What is mould?

It is the common word for any fungus that grows on food or damp surfaces. In addition, it can be any colour but is often black or white.

Some often look like a stain or smudge, and they may smell musty. They can enter the home through windows, vents, and open doorways, heating and air-conditioning systems. Moreover, it can attach itself to clothes, shoes, linen, bags and pets.

You might find it in:

  • Leaky roofs, windows or pipes
  • Ceilings
  • Brick walls
  • Wood products
  • Dust
  • Paints
  • Wallpaper
  • Insulation
  • Drywall
  • Carpets
  • Upholstery
  • Mattresses
  • Wall and floor tiles
  • Built-in units and cupboards
  • Shower enclosures

Is mould harmful?

Often reports about the effects of some moulds include the term “toxic”. However, experts say this term can be misleading, since only certain spores produce toxins, and only under certain conditions.

According to researchers in the Lung Disorders Special Report: 9 Common Mould Myths, moulds can produce toxins. However, that doesn’t mean it will. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that you could inhale enough in your home or office to receive a toxic dose.

Although, only toxic under exceptional conditions, it can still adversely affect your health. In addition, if you suffer a pre-existing respiratory condition, e.g. asthma, mould can aggravate the condition.

Some people are especially sensitive to some moulds and may display symptoms that include:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Coughing and phlegm build-up
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Symptoms of asthma and any number of allergic reactions
  • Sleep loss

Tackling moulds at home

It is mostly found indoors in kitchens and bathrooms, where humidity levels are high. However, who should do the cleanup depends on a number of factors. One is the size of the affected area. If the mouldy area is less than about 1m² you can handle the job yourself. You can simply remove it with over the counter products. However, if there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mould growth covers more than 1m², it is advisable to hire a specialist contractor.

The following measures can help:

  • During humid months, use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier.
  • Ensure there is adequate ventilation, especially in your bathrooms.
  • Before painting, add mould inhibitors to the paint.
  • Use mould killing products to clean your bathroom and kitchen.
  • Don’t carpet your bathrooms and toilets.
  • Remove or replace wet carpets and upholstery.
mould

If there are musty smells in your cupboards, bedrooms, bathrooms or in your kitchen you have mould in your home! It will only grow in areas where damp conditions exist! I can identify the source of the damp condition for you. Furthermore, I can perform a Mould Inspection and advise you on the best manner in which to remove the mould.

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