Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Sub floor ventilation, why spending a few pounds today could save you thousands tomorrow...

Often overlooked, sub floor ventilation is critical to the health of your home. If damp is at work, out of sight, under your floor boards, you could be accumulating a hefty bill that you could so easily avoid.

So let’s take a walk up to your front door and just see whether you’re harbouring a potential problem with your property.  First of all, what’s not original about your home? Has anyone added an extension, a new driveway or path? Are your borders raised with soil? Is there a car port, conservatory, porch or patio addition? Are there areas of decking or raised planters and flower boxes?  If so, the chances are that your air bricks which provide essential sub floor ventilation could be partially or completely blocked. 

Says Richard Walker, National Development Manager for Peter Cox Property Services, “It’s amazing how something so apparently small and insignificant as an air brick or two can impact on your home life so hugely.  I’ve even seen vents closed off deliberately with pieces of slate to ‘stop any draughts’ and others cemented over completely!

“But that’s precisely where all the problems start. Air bricks or air vents are normally fitted just above your property’s damp proof course and their job is to let air flow right through your property from front to back or side to side. This helps maintain the correct moisture level in your underfloor void.  Keep the moisture content to below 15% and you should be fine.  But once the level starts creeping up, then you can develop problems in the joists and floor timbers leading to, mould, damp, musty smells and eventually devastating Dry Rot.

“Modern properties usually have air-bricks spaced at around 1.5m apart but in older properties it can be very arbitrary, as can the size of the vents and what they’re made from.

“How are you to know if your sub floor ventilation is all it should be without a simple underfloor survey with a moisture meter?”

“These days”, says Richard, “as the water table is rising, and flooding more widespread, the problem really needs addressing early  - an ounce of prevention being better than thousands of pounds worth of cure. You can even help yourself by removing cobwebs, leaves and debris that can block vents. We’ll gladly show you how to keep them clear and clean with the minimum of effort.

So should you check your property’s sub floor ventilation?  The simple answer is yes. If you live in a home built before 1980, particularly in a pre-war, Victorian or even older home, it’s really worth a small investment now to have experts run a quick check for you. If your house is at pavement level, particularly in terraced properties, you really need to know what’s going on under the floor. If you notice your floors bounce, shift, creak or appear to be dropping away from the skirting boards – these are all tell-tale signs that the underfloor joists are already affected by moisture. Even if the problem is established, an early investigation can still help prevent it getting worse.

Says Richard, “Our inspections are hassle-free and don’t take long, although we do need to be thorough!  With the right meters, specialist know-how and equipment, the surveyors can be in and out in a very short time.  You will get a full report with any recommendations so you can breathe easy. I mean that quite literally. Diagnosing a damp or inadequately ventilated sub floor void early can actually help you avoid the mould and fungal decay spores which some people, particularly the young and old can be allergic to.

“If we do find sub floor ventilation problems, the reassuring news is that often we won’t even need to disturb your day to fix them. New air vents can be fitted from outside your property to achieve the necessary air flow and rectify your problem.  Where a property is at street level, we can’t lower the pavement but we can fit periscope vents to introduce air flow. Whatever solution we provide, it will be right for your property.”

Richard continues, “Recently, we worked on six houses near York racecourse, all of them affected by the raised water table and subsequently Dry Rot. Early detection in one house was key to the whole street agreeing to fix its mutual problem at source. The size and style of property isn’t the issue. The survey is similar wherever we go. It’s quick, easy and inexpensive so why wouldn’t you want to have your house checked out.

The fact is that you can protect your home and your family with just a little professional insight before problems have a chance to manifest.  You’re not only spending a little to save a lot, you’re also making one small investment to help protect your family’s long term health and well-being.

Depending on the circumstances, Peter Cox Property Services offer some surveys free of charge. The team will also consult for a quoted fee before you purchase a property, giving you extra confidence that you’re making the right move.

To discuss your property or to arrange a survey, please get in touch with your nearest office of Peter Cox Property Services at http://www.petercox.com/regions.php or you can also call 0800 789 500 to talk to the experts and we’ll send a surveyor with local knowledge of your area.