If your home’s walls are damp or wet, then you have a big problem. Damp walls are a sign that something is wrong, and you need to get it fixed. Moisture problems can cause issues for your entire home, including rapid mold growth. Here are some things that you need to know about wet walls in your home.
What Are the Causes of Wet Walls?
Excess moisture can occur when the air does not escape out of your home. When that happens, you are left with wet walls. Moisture coming in from another source outside your home can also cause dampness. Your regular home routine can produce excess moisture throughout the house, including drying clothes, cooking, and showering. In some cases, the building structure is damaged and causing moisture to enter. Unsealed windows, leaking pipes, or an improperly vented dryer can cause excess moisture.
Dampness can occur in any type of home. However, some older buildings were designed to allow damp air to evaporate out of the house, and they are actually more “breathable” than newer homes. With the installation of energy-saving devices, like double-glazed windows, these windows can reduce the airflow throughout the house and create problems with condensation. Even old chimneys provide extra ventilation to remove that moisture from the home. New technology is fantastic, but it is setting your home up for moisture problems.
Moisture issues are a severe problem for a homeowner. It can be an inconvenience, along with making the room feel cold and unhealthy. Excess moisture can cause other issues, including inadequate weatherproofing and structural damage. Leaks, condensation, and poor drainage are the most common causes of excess moisture issues throughout your home.
Plumbing problems can cause wet walls with those leaky pipes seeping into your space. Throughout your homeownership, you have to deal with a leaking faucet or sink. You know that you must always get those issues fixed. If not correctly installed, dishwashers and washing machines can leak into the floors and the walls too.
However, it is not always pipes and appliances that can cause leaking issues. Water can sneak through vents, chimneys, skylights, and windows to create wet walls. You might also want to check the masonry and flashing around the doors and windows on the building. These areas are prone to leaks that will cause excess moisture in the home.
Condensation is another issue that can create excess moisture in your home. It can occur when moist and hot air hits the dry and cold air. When this happens, water forms on colder surfaces, including your wall. After a hot shower, you will usually find moisture on the bathroom’s surfaces. Condensation can also be found in the kitchen, especially in any room where there is an excess of steam.
During the winter, condensation is a problem for many homes due to a significant difference in outside and inside temperatures. During this time, the house is more prone to condensation on the windows and walls. This excess moisture can encourage mold growth, drywall stains, and wet walls. Some signs of excess condensation include steam on windows, discoloring of the window panes, and growth of mold.
However, there are ways to remove that excess condensation in the home. Condensation in the house can be reduced by closing the door of the bathroom or wiping down cold surfaces. You will want to install an exhaust system in high-moisture rooms like a bathroom or kitchen. If you have wet walls, you should think about using a dehumidifier. This device can pull out excess moisture in places without an exhaust system. The roof area is also prone to collecting excess condensation. You should consider adding adequate ventilation to stop any dampness in the attic or on the roof.
Poor drainage can cause water to penetrate into the building and create excess dampness. There is something called rising damp, and it is the result of moisture pulled into porous material. Drywall and plaster act like a paper towel by absorbing the moisture. That dampness moves from the ground into the walls of your home. Rising damp can also cause watermarks and mineral deposits at the base of the walls.
There is also another type of dampness called penetrating damp. This damp can cause the same kind of damage, but it doesn’t travel up a wall. Penetrating damp comes in from the source, and it is often the result of a leak. Block wall seams and porous blocks are some of the most common places to see penetrating damp in the New Jersey area.
In some places, the soil can expand and cause inadequate drainage around the home. When the soil shifts, it creates pressure on the basement walls, which can cause them to crack, bow, and buckle. Along with the wet soil, that damage can create an entry point for moisture to seep into the home. Air gaps, burst pipes, and poor insulation are perfect breeding grounds for penetrating damp. These issues can be the result of something as simple as an incorrectly installed washing machine. Penetrating damp causes damage to the plaster, watermarks on masonry, and decay to wood surfaces. If you notice any of these signs, it might be time to call a professional for a repair service.
As you can tell, penetrating and rising damp are created by inadequate surface and ground drainage. All that excess water from a saturated ground and damaged downspout can find its way through a porous wall or a crack in the foundation.
For homes in the New Jersey area, you know that winters can be brutal. Those freezing temperatures can cause ice build-ups, and they can be troublesome for your home. When you have snow on the roof, it will eventually melt. However, when the water starts to freeze again, it can cause an ice dam. Heavy snowfalls with clogged roof gutters or ventilation can create many problems, including damage to the building’s structure. This freezing ice can pull the gutters away from your house, and the melting water can sneak into the crevices of the building. When the water enters, you may notice wet walls as the water flows from the roof. That excess water can seriously damage the foundation and the walls. You could see mold build-up on the inside and outside of your walls.
It might seem like all bad news. However, there are a few things that you can do to reduce all types of damp in your home. By improving surface drainage around your home, you can stop the dampness. You might want to redirect the water from entering the surface of the building or regrade your property. If you notice any signs of damage, you will want to fix those issues as soon as possible. You never want to ignore the problems as they will just become more costly to fix. When you have resolved the water drainage problem, make sure to repair any damaged walls to prevent mold build-up. Finally, you want to ventilate the entire space with adequate airflow. With the right airflow, you can keep your wall’s surfaces dry to prevent any additional moisture issues.
The Signs of Wet Walls
Besides the obvious visual clues, there are other signs to check to determine any excess moisture behind the walls. When you put your hand up to the wall, it should feel dry. Wet, slick, and damp walls are the first sign that you have a moisture problem in your home. However, dampness is not the only indication of a moisture issue. Peeling wallpaper and paint are also telltale signs of excess moisture, along with water stains. You might even notice mold on the walls or a musty odor throughout your whole home.
For most homes, moisture problems start to appear in the winter months, but unresolved wet walls can cause issues throughout the year. You can easily see the signs of a damp wall. Your room might feel cold and damp, while the ceiling or walls are discolored. When the rest of the wall is colder than the other parts of the room, it creates a dew-point in that area. At this spot, the moisture in the ambient air will condense easier at higher temperatures. Untreated wet spots can cause health issues, including throat irritation, eye irritation, runny rose, coughing, wheezing, and skin irritation.
While it might seem like those are the only health issues, prolonged exposure can also cause chronic problems like asthma. For those already suffering from allergies and asthma, you might experience more severe symptoms when exposed to high levels of dampness.
Checking Your Home for Excess Moisture
If you are worried about wet walls, then you will want to inspect your home for excess moisture. You can quickly check with the back of your hand. While it is not the most accurate way to measure moisture, it will let you know if your home has a problem. You should place your hand against the damp area and then touch a dry area. By comparing the two, you can gauge the level of wetness.
A damp meter is another great way to measure the moisture in the wall. These devices have two prongs on the base with a level indicator on the front. You can leave the prongs on the wall’s surface and allow it to measure the moisture. There is a level indicator that will display a percentage of dampness in the wall’s surface.
If you are really concerned about excess moisture, there are professional companies that will survey your home. You can find someone to assess the condensation issues around your property and take readings of the humidity levels. A professional company will help you to identify the source of the leak. While you might want to try to identify this on your own, you do want to hire someone trained to find the leaks. Once you have determined the severity of the moisture issues, you have to move on to the repair process. Leaks can be difficult to fix. Damaged gutters, flashing, and pipes often need the help of a professional.
Repairing Wet Walls
Once you have located the source of the excess moisture and resolved the issue, you will need to fix the aftermath of wet walls. In most cases, there will be a build-up of mold on the outside or inside of the walls. At this stage, you will have to clean all surfaces to remove mold thoroughly. Severe moisture damage might even require parts of the wall to be replaced to ensure all the mold is destroyed. After you have done this, the area must be dried before it is resealed and painted. For the bathroom, you should remove all the grout and reseal it with a sealant gun. Before you use your bathroom, the grout must be fully dry, or you can be facing the same issues with additional moisture build-up. While this might seem like a DIY project, you should really call in a professional team to assist in the mold removal project.
Preventing Future Issues
Once you have resolved your moisture issues, you want to keep a clean and dry home. Keep your walls dry by adequately ventilating the air throughout your home. Many homeowners accomplish this process with a few easy steps. You can open the windows to circulate the air or use lids when cooking in the kitchen. Some people even avoid drying clothes by hanging them outside. Excess moisture can be prevented by sealing your windows and fixing any leaks in the home. Your walls can be treated with a sealant in damp areas to prevent water from leaking inside the building.
Wet walls are a serious matter, and you should never ignore the problem. You want to find the source of the moisture and correct it. Water leaks can occur from improperly sealed windows to roof leaks. Make sure to call in a professional team to help you resolve any of these problems.
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