Condensation Damp & Wall Mould - Treating Permanently!

Published: 12th January 2010
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How To Spot Condensation Damp

Condensation Damp generally is a bi-product of the way we live and can effect damp walls, and damp cellars. Various things which we do on a regular basis exacerbate the levels of atmospheric moisture in our homes and buildings and this has a direct bearing on the levels of condensation damp. Cooking, bathing and showering increase moisture levels in the atmosphere with the average person expelling up to 5 pints of moisture in a night while sleeping.

Condensation damp can occur when there is a lack of natural ventilation, when there is a constant change in air temperature in a room, when wall surfaces are damp and cold or when radiators have been used excessively to dry clothes. Basically, air molecules are larger when they are warm and so they can hold more atmospheric moisture. When the air cools the molecules reduce in size and so are unable to hold the same amount of moisture, and therefore deposit the excess moisture on the surrounding surfaces. Visually this can appear as actual moisture and wet to the touch, or as black spot penicillium mould. Both can have detrimental affects to the internal finishes and the spores of the mould can manifest themselves permanently in the wall plaster.

Condensation damp can also be a health hazard especially to those who already have respiratory health problems.

Dealing With Condensation Damp

When dealing with below ground condensation damp issues, a complete damp tanking set-up must be placed in the damp cellar. For above ground application, condensation damp issues must be supplemented by greater amounts of ventilation to allow for normal air fluctuations in the space. Assuming this is accomplished in a typical fashion, then a variety of mechanical ventilation or moisture control products which must be fitted to the system.

If damp mould is present attention should be given to surfaces where condensation is required. Many have found that using standard cleaning using cleaning products or bleach are futile to remove penicillium mould permanently. If spores of mould have manifested then we should remove the wall paper or apply impermeable damp proofing membrane over the affected area.

Application of Damp Proof Membranes

Damp Proof Membranes can be applied to damp walls affected by condensation damp, staining and mould and penetrating damp. The recommended High Density Polypropylene and Polyethylene damp proof membranes would be moulded into a stud formation which creates an air gap behind the system. The impervious nature of the damp proof membrane coupled with the 'egg box' stud profile means that when the membrane has been applied to the wall surface, mould spores caused by the condensation damp can no longer affect new finishes which would be applied to the Damp Proof Membrane. Similarly, any dampness in the structure will be prevented from affecting the wall finishes. They can be applied by a DIY damp expert, or a professional damp specialist.

The studs of the membrane are a natural insulator and they are provided by the air gap between the wall and the membrane. When you apply these studs on the surface of the wall, first, it will warm up the surface gently which will help the wall to dry out. Levels of condensation damp will be greatly reduced. Now the damp plaster will be able to dry out behind the membrane to solve the damp problem permanently.

Damp Proof Membrane Systems can be applied following the removal of contaminated wall finishes, or simply directly over the top of them

A contractor who has been frequently using Damp Proof Membranes said "We don't mess about any more. Whenever we have a wall affected due to condensation damp and damp mould first of all we install better levels of ventillation - naturally or mechanically - and then we apply a Damp Proof Membrane to the walls and dab fix an insulated plasterboard. That way we get a nice dry and warm wall surface which considerably reduces the chances of condensation damp re-occuring"

David Sutcliffe is an independent consultant specialising in the diagnosis of damp and condensation damp in all buildings across the construction spectrum from historic and listed buildings to new build, commercial and domestic structures. David has over 30 years of hands on experience in installing damp proof membranes as well as having years of consultancy experience

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