Rising Damp Sydney: The Curse of Winter

Winter is coming to Sydney! The warmer season is about to end and we are approaching the cold season. Are you prepared for it?

If you happen to be a fan of the world-wide phenomenal series of Game of Thrones, you would surely comprehend the horrifying warning “winter is coming”. For so many times in the series, this warning of constant vigilance in the entire seven kingdoms of Westeros has proven that the safest way to face the approaching coldest season is to be prepared. Something that determines who will live and who will die.

Okay. Let us be back in the real world. Winter brings more than just the coldest weather in Sydney. It brings a curse. Well, not in the form of the rising White Walkers and the army of the dead marching toward the wall to conquer the living just like in the Game of Thrones series. It’s in the form of the rising damp.

Rising damp is the curse of winter. It is the White Walkers with the army of the dead that penetrate into your wall from the ground. It will continue to rise by defying even the most powerful force of gravity to weaken your house or building structure and like the walking dead, it will contaminate.

I never really had an idea about how horrifying the rising damp is until I personally experienced its risks a few years ago. That traumatic experience made me hate winter until now and would always wish summer has no end.

I thought that you need to be warned about the rising damp issues that my family and I had gone through so I am sharing to you our story to give you a helpful warning.

Rising Damp Started to Break Into Our Walls

We live in an old house in Sydney. It’s a property my parents bought and gave me as a wedding gift. We’ve lived here ever since I got married 20 years ago and now have two teens. It was built with timber and double-brick. If you research these materials, you would realise how old the house is.

It’s a great house. My family loves it. It’s been a comfy home for all of us. It has also withstood many years of extremely hot and cold seasons. Well, we had few renovations done many years ago but just the roofing part and surface finishing of our walls and ceilings.

The house really looked strong and healthy not until 3 years ago when we started to see wet portions in the foundation of our walls and floors in the back part of the house. We also smell odd odour which we initially thought was just temporary as it was winter season. We thought it will just dry out eventually.

So, that winter season ended and summer season came in. The wet part of the walls and the floors at the back of our house dried out only a little but I never took a serious mind of it. I thought that was just because that part of the house was fully covered by the shadow of the tree behind. So we just carried on without really worrying about it.

During the summer season, we noticed the appearance of cockroaches in the kitchen and in the toilet. We used to see a few of them before but very seldom. This time they became more visible and we have sightings of them almost every day.

The next winter came in and we noticed that a more massive portion of the same walls and floors got the dampness. We also saw the brick wall starting to decay from the inside and the floor finishing was bubbling in some parts. The musty smell became even stronger and my wife and kids would always complain.

The Killer Smell of the Rising Damp

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second winter of having the dampness had us notice the moulds growth in the same part of the house and the musty smell became even stronger every day. My wife started to have coughs and one day, my teenage daughter complained about difficulty with breathing which caused us to call an emergency. She was also showing visible skin rashes in her arms and around the neck.

In the hospital, the doctor stated that she had symptoms of allergies and could have been a worse case had she not been sent to the emergency on time. As my wife and daughter both continued the discussion with the doctor they did mention about the musty smell from the rising damp and moulds in our house which we apparently thought was the reason they got sick.

The doctor then confirmed that dampness invites the growth of moulds that produce allergens. He continued that both damp and moulds are serious health threats to a person with a weak immune system and have sensitive respiratory problems like asthma and allergies. These are more dangerous to babies, children, and the elderly.

From there we understood that moulds have spores that are toxic. It triggers an allergic reaction to a person who touches or inhales it. Immediate symptoms are but not limited to sneezing, red eyes, runny nose, red eyes, skin rashes, and asthma attacks.

I even had a quick check in Google about it and found out that when the dampness started to form in the foundation of the walls or floors, it makes a perfect site for moulds to grow. If the rising damp is not treated early, moulds continue to grow exponentially resulting in facing more health risks. In some worst allergic or respiratory problems, it can cause death.

That incident was traumatic but at the same time enlightening for me and my family. We could have been in a worse situation if we missed getting the emergency help right away. The next step I took was to research how I could get rid of the dampness and moulds in my house.

I was surprised that there were lots of articles on the internet about rising damp and moulds. I was even more surprised to find out that there were companies that offer services to solve problems with dampness and moulds removal. Seeing the service pricing for each company, I thought there is still a way that I can probably solve the matter myself.

I checked online for some DIY (Do It Your Own) steps to fix dampness and how to remove moulds but taking into consideration the massive dampness and quite a multitude of moulds we have at home, I gave up and decided to contact experts on rising damp and moulds removal.

The Day with the Rising Damp Experts

With the urgency of our problem, I did not let another day to pass and called the rising damp experts immediately and set an appointment for their service. They were so informative on the phone about the dampness and moulds issues and even provided a quick overview of what will be done from inspection to the treatment.

The day of the appointment came and I was quite eager to have the problem fixed right away. The experts explained that a thorough inspection had to be done so that the cause and the coverage of the issue can be identified for a complete and accurate treatment. With the confidence that they are the right experts, I let them do what they needed to do.

After their inspection, they talked to me and explained the situation. They told me that I had a clogged drainage system at my backyard which caused the water to accumulate and spread through the ground reaching the nearest walls and floors, thus, forming the rising damp.

But that was not the only problem they stated. According to them, my damp-proof course had malfunctioned causing the dampness to rise drastically.

To be honest, I did not really know anything about that damp-proof course thing until they explained it to me. They said that it is a vertical or horizontal barrier embedded in the brickwork which blocks moisture from rising through the water’s capillary action. To put it simply, water has the ability to go against the force of gravity and can breach or rise through the bricks and masonry forming the damp.

So I had two problems underlying the dampness issue. These are the clogged drainage system and the malfunctioning damp-proof course. Well, both do not sound really good because these meant expenses but I had a home to save. I needed to keep my family safe.

The damp experts fixed our damp-proofing system. They removed the massive moulds. They applied disinfectant and deodorized both the affected walls and floors. We could never be more thankful that we were damp-proof again although I had to contact another tradie to fix our drainage system.

Learning from the Rising Damp Experience

The conversation I had with the rising damp experts made me realise not just the information about how dampness is formed and its causes but also the number of risks it poses. We have already talked about the health risks we are faced with the presence of rising damp and the growth of moulds in our property. If you think that’s it, read further.

I had quite a good discussion with the rising damp experts who helped me and from them, I learned a lot about the rising damp problem. Rising damp can cause extreme damages to the structure of the building if not treated immediately at its first sign. It will soak every timber material in the structure until it weakens and eventually decays even the bricks or the masonry.

The risks posed by dampness go beyond the structure damages and health issues. According to the damp experts, rising damp attracts pests, especially during summer. A flashback suddenly came to mind about the cockroaches we saw summer before that. Now that explains it but still another problem to confront.

Though our house did not have signs of termites yet, it would have eventually attracted termites if dampness continued not treated. Termites love moisture and humidity and so they would hunt for these damp sites during summer where they can easily penetrate to devour the timber or wood component of the house or building. These pests could have feasted on our home if the action was taken late.

One of the most important pieces of advice that the rising damp experts emphasized is never to disregard any signs of dampness in any part of the property. Do not wait until it’s too large before you take action. Delaying the action to treat it is giving it more chance to create more risks. Just remember what happened to my wife and daughter.

How to Defeat the Rising Damp

Rising damp is a serious problem in Sydney that requires damp expert intervention.

Rising damp can expand in no time while nourishing the moulds and so you have to act on it quickly upon seeing the first sign. If I had understood the risks of the dampness, in the first place, my wife and daughter would not have suffered from the sickness. I could no longer do something to undo that but you still can avoid that same risk and keep your family safe.

My family and I have already known and understood what winter can bring us. We keep ourselves on full alert on the signs of possible rising damp issues at home and act on it with urgency. It has been our practice to have our damp-proof system inspected. If there is any malfunction, we would have it fixed by the rising damp experts before the next winter season.

Our safety at home is certainly our responsibility. My experience taught me to be vigilant always with the signs of damp issues. We were once at serious risk and that will never happen again.

How about you? Are you prepared for the coming winter? Will your home be safe?

You work the hardest to build your home. It’s meant to be the safest abode for your family.

If you once saw dampness in your walls or floors, never disregard it. The appearance of the rising damp means either you have no damp-proof course installed or it stops working. I strongly recommend you have it checked by the rising damp experts as early as now.

Rising damp may also be because of water leaks, drainage system problems, or not enough ventilation to dry out the moisture in subfloors and internal walls. These should be checked for the appropriate solution.

Rising damp may not be the only problem you will have. You might also be welcoming unwanted pests such as termites or cockroaches. Both can be present where there is dampness.

Be aware. Be vigilant. Rising damp could hit your property sooner. Better be prepared. Winter is coming!

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