Win the fight against damp

Rising damp
Rising damp
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April is certainly living up to its showery reputation, and as well as being no fun, rain can lead to leaks and damp problems.

There’s nothing worse than a damp wall – it’s cold and wet and affects the whole room. But you may be able to identify the cause of the damp and remedy it yourself.

Common causes of leaks and damp include missing or blocked gutters and downpipes, missing or loose flashing and roof tiles, and flat roofs that aren’t sealed properly, so take a look yourself or get a roofer in.

If your home doesn’t have a damp-proof course, or it’s defective, you’ll need a damp specialist to install one, but it may be that the course is being prevented from doing its job.

You should be able to see the line of the course along the exterior brickwork of your home – it’s a row of holes above the ground.

If the level of your garden, patio or path is higher than the course, it won’t work properly.

Another cause of damp could be the exterior walls. Typical problems include deteriorated or missing pointing, deteriorated or cracked rendering, and bricks that have become porous.

Again, you can fix these things yourself (try the Artex Easifix Exterior Render Repair Kit, £18.98, B&Q, which is easy to use), but you may prefer to get a builder to do it.

Perhaps you’ve noticed damp on a chimney breast. This could be because the chimney stack needs to be repaired or capped, or the chimney breast isn’t ventilated properly indoors.

If the fireplace opening has been sealed up, a vent should have been fitted, but vents can get blocked with dust and debris.

If there isn’t a vent, fit one – it’s a relatively straightforward DIY job.

Once the cause of the leak or damp has been addressed, only a specialist stain-blocking paint will cover the water mark on the ceiling or wall and stop it from coming back.

Try Polycell Damp Seal, from £9.18 for 500ml, B&Q, which is available as both conventional and spray paint.

If the damp is at the bottom of the wall, it’s probably rising damp, in which case you’ll need a damp specialist to install a new damp-proof course.

They’ll also hack off the damp plaster and then replaster, but you can often save money by getting a plasterer to do this.

Another job for the professionals is sorting out a solid floor that’s developed a damp patch. This is probably caused by a faulty damp-proof membrane or a leaking pipe.

At times like this, you need a good builder or plumber on speed dial!