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Managing an old property: signs of damp and how to prevent them

Nothing can ruin your day more than the discovery of dampness in your home, not only because it’s unsightly but because of the other chaos it can cause on your property. All homes have moisture, regardless of age, and dampness is the build-up of this moisture that is trying to escape.

Unlike more modern homes though, old properties were designed using entirely permeable materials so moisture can pass freely through walls, floors, and ceilings. The main causes are typically corroded water pipes, excess moisture, and poor ventilation and, ultimately, require more maintenance and attention from property owners or landlords.

Initially, rising dampness may not seem like a big concern, but you would be surprised about the havoc it can wreak on your health and home. You can develop many health conditions as a result of being exposed to dampness, including asthma, skin irritations, and allergic reactions. In serious cases, dampness can be a sign of wider, hidden structural damage in your home.

Here are some signs you can look out for and how you can prevent dampness if you’re living in an older building:

Damage to plaster or paintwork

This is a sure sign that something is up with your property, and usually, dampness is the perpetrator! You might be tempted to paint over it with waterproof emulsions, but it will eventually seep through and re-stain your walls. You can save yourself time and money by tackling the issue at its source by reducing moisture levels in rooms such as bathrooms or kitchens by fitting an extractor fan like this.


Condensation forms when there is too much humidity in your home and water droplets collect on cold surfaces. Condensation itself is not a problem, but when left untreated, it can cause damp patches to form and mold to grow. There are many ways to stop condensation from collecting, including using lids when cooking, dying clothes outside, and installing an extractor fan. Another helpful habit worth adopting is to keep doors to rooms with higher moisture levels such as bathrooms closed to prevent the spread of warm air to colder areas, thus increasing condensation levels. Likewise, if you are unable to dry clothing outdoors, it is recommended to dry it on a clothing rack in the bathroom with the door closed.

Musty smells

Damp is often accompanied by a tell-tale smell that is easy to place and not exactly pleasant. It clings to your clothes and other fabrics, and it suggests that mildew or mold is lurking nearby. To get rid of it, you need to find the initial cause of the issue checking areas where mold is most likely to grow such as dark or damp corners of your home like bathrooms and basements. Once identified it may be worth checking for larger causes of the issue which could include internal water leaks, a roof leakage, or poor ventilation.

Once identified, it is also important to ensure that the affected area is thoroughly cleaned as extended exposure to mold and mildew in the home is known to cause health effects such as a stuffy nose, skin irritation, or even asthma.

Increased air humidity

During the wintertime, it’s natural to keep the windows shut and put the heating on, but this can cause excess moisture to become trapped in your home. Such problems are more common in older properties built with materials that don’t allow for efficient insulation. Once you have identified excessive humidity in your home, it is recommended to monitor the level of humidity and its source and in doing so, identify if and how the issue can be prevented. If the increased air humidity is unavoidable investing in solutions such as dehumidifiers or appropriately sized air conditioning systems can be regarded as an effective solution.

In summary, it is important to identify and address any sources of dampness in a property as soon as possible. This may involve improving ventilation, repairing leaks, or installing damp-proofing measures. By doing so, you can protect both the property and the health of its inhabitants.


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About the Author

Kaya Wittenburg

Blog Author and CEO

Kaya Wittenburg is the Founder and CEO of Sky Five Properties. Since the age of 10, real estate has been deeply ingrained into his thoughts. With world-class negotiation and deal-making skills, he brings a highly impactful presence into every transaction that he touches.

He is here to help you use real estate as a vehicle to develop your own personal empire and feel deeply satisfied along the way. If you have an interest in buying, selling or renting property in South Florida, contact Kaya today.

Feel free to call me at: (305) 357-0635
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