Frequently Asked Questions about Preservation
These questions below are amongst the most common topics regarding ailments of property preservation.
What is the difference between rising and penetrating damp?
Rising damp is due to moisture that slowly tracks upwards from the ground into porous building materials i.e.. brick, stone or mortar and generally affects older properties where the existing damp course has failed or broken down. Rising damp can be identified by a characteristic "tide mark" on the lower section of affected walls. This tide mark is caused by soluble salts (particularly nitrates and chlorides) contained in the groundwater.
Penetrating damp is an issue that can affect all buildings. It may look harmless, however penetrating damp can be damaging to a property even if it does not penetrate all the way through a wall. Typically, penetrating damp is caused by issues with the building or plumbing where a problem has allowed water to enter the property.
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What is wet rot?
What is dry rot?
What is condensation?
The saturation point of the air varies with temperature: the higher the air temperature, the more vapour it can absorb. So, the warmer the air has been and the more vapour or moisture it has absorbed, the greater the amount of condensation produced on saturation point being reached. Relative humidity (RH) is the amount of water vapour held in the air, expressed as a percentage of the amount it would take to saturate the air at the same temperature.
Example: A room heated and maintained at 20° C with a RH of 80% would be able to hold and absorb all the water vapour that is currently present. However, if more vapour were to be introduced into the air, with the same temperature maintained, the RH will increase beyond saturation point (i.e.100% RH) and after that any more water vapour will be released as condensation.
Modern living standards also contribute to the development of condensation. Changes in building design and construction also lead to its appearance, with houses being less draughty and better sealed against the elements. The main cause of condensation is the generation of moist warm air by modern living practises. This can be from cooking, bathing, washing, showering, drying clothes, paraffin heaters, flue-less gas heaters, tumble dryers, showers etc. Most homes can easily produce up to 17 litres of water per day, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, and this can spread to cooler areas of the house and condense onto the colder surfaces there.
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The following will help in the control of condensation. Please ask us for any advice on condensation within your property.
- Improved heating to cold spot areas will usually improve conditions. Gentle but constantbackground heating is better than irregular heating as this helps maintain a higher temperature within the construction and fabric of the building.
- Insulation can be achieved by installing a thermal lining system or foam lining paper to cold walls. A water vapour barrier may be necessary to the warm side of the insulation to prevent condensation forming behind the insulation.
- Ventilation is needed to bathrooms and kitchens whilst bathing, washing, tumble drying, cooking etc are taking place. This can easily be achieved by keeping the room door shut and the window open. Remember that ½-1½ changes of air per hour are required to keep properties free from condensation. This means keeping adequate ventilation, even in cold weather, and ensuring air movement within the property by leaving doors open as much as possible when rooms are not in use. Rooms closed off during the day will usually benefit from a passive ventilation unit through an outside wall to maintain natural airflow and constant temperatures.
- Trickle ventilation through window units is required to assist air change and to clear the moisture created all the time, just from breathing. Tumble dryers and washing machines should be fitted with direct exhaust hoses to the outside of the property to reduce condensation. Where possible, paraffin and flue-less gas heaters should be avoided. If used, the room must be ventilated, by keeping a window slightly open. Heaters of this type can generate 11 litres of water per 1 litre of paraffin.
- A de-humidifier can also be used. This draws the air over a heat exchanger, cooling it down to dew point and collecting the moisture in a reservoir. The air is then re-heated to an acceptable temperature and re-circulated in the room.
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