Friday, 17 January 2014

Property expert advises homeowners to check for water damage after recent bad weather

As the country starts to clean up and assess the damage of the recent storms, the UK market leaders in property maintenance, Peter Cox, advise homeowners and landlords to carry out a few basic checks, to look for any penetration of rainwater.

Richard Walker said:  “Water damage can have a devastating effect on a building and can cause damage after even minimal rain. Some problems, if left unchecked, can lead to thousands of pounds worth of property damage or could even compromise your health.”

When people think of rain damage they usually assume it will come from the roof but that is not always the case. Leaks and water penetration can also occur through walls, the chimney, windows and doors, and if you have experienced water tables and floods, even up through the floors.

First, look for standing water on drive ways and outside your property.  This is a tell-tale sign that water is not draining away. It could be rectified by cleaning drains to allow the water to run off – however, if this fails it could mean that water is not draining away and could be running into your building. If you have a cellar or basement, check it for leaks, damp, mould and standing puddles of water.

Gutters should be inspected and cleaned for any blockages.  If water overflows it could seep into your building masonry. This will eventually become visible as a damp patch on the internal wall surface - often causing discolouration and peeling or flaking of paintwork or wallpaper and even plaster damage.

This in turn may turn into mould. Mould fungi are not always visible as they prefer dark, moist areas and so can colonise inaccessible parts of the home such as wall cavities, insulation or under floorboards. Some types of mould can cause health problems especially for the very young and the very old.

Richard said:  “Mould won’t appear immediately after water leakage, but if you have found water, we recommend you keep checking for mould on a regular basis as it could take a few weeks to appear.”

Dry rot and wet rot in the home are the most frequent and serious causes of timber damage in domestic properties. Both types of ‘rot’ can cause widespread damage to the timber and affect its strength and severely damage a building. Roof failure, leaking gutters and poor sub-floor ventilation can be the starting point for the rot to get a foothold.

The first evidence of a dry rot outbreak may be a mushroom-like fruiting body or fine grey-white hyphae strands spreading over the wood, which can appear overnight. Although it is called 'dry rot', dampness is a key factor, so dealing with any sources of moisture is the first action to take, and then ventilate the area to aid the drying process.

“The problem with water is that in some cases damage is not always immediately apparent,” said Richard.  “If your home has taken a battering in the storms and you find areas where water or damp is evident, keep a watchful eye for problems as they can sometimes take a few weeks or even months to develop into something that will become a lot worse.”

Further information on water damage and is treatment is available at