Why Is It Important to Eliminate Damp?
Dampness creates the ideal environment for mould to thrive and reproduce. The mould then produces spores that are carried through the air which might be inhaled by people. Allergies and irritations might result from this scenario (worst cases may lead to lung infections).
Although most healthy people won’t be affected by mould’s biotoxins, people with asthma, allergies and weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable. They might be at higher risk of getting a lung infection due to mould.
Other effects of dampness
Aside from potentially affecting human health, dampness can also result to serious structural problems (cracked walls, timber decay, warping of the wood floor). This means costly repairs if the problem is neglected for too long. Entire floors, walls and ceilings might have to be repaired or replaced because the structural integrity is already lost.
As a result, one way to prolong your asset’s lifetime is to eliminate damp or control the moisture. Failure to do so can result to wood decay (wooden materials are particularly vulnerable to water and moisture). Wood materials may absorb or retain water which could result to expansion and rot. This kind of environment might also attract termites and contribute further to structural damage.
This happens because the unwanted moisture makes it more ideal for fungi to grow and for rotting to occur. As with most other organisms, fungi require water and food. The unwanted moisture provides the water while the wood itself is the food material. Because the wood is the food source, the wood will be broken down as the fungi thrive. The structure gets eaten away through the months and years. By the time the signs of deterioration become obvious, it’s probably too late because the damage has been continuously happening beneath the floors, ceilings and walls.
What causes dampness
Excess moisture is the primary cause. It can happen either by the entry or intrusion of moisture from the outside or the condensation from within the home, room or building.
From within, moisture can build up because of our daily activities such as showering, cooking and doing the laundry. A huge percentage of water vapour from these activities might condense on cool surfaces such as on walls, mirrors and windows. Another way for moisture to build up within is through leaky pipes. The water being released (especially when in contact with structural wood) will invite mould growth and termite infestation.
On the other hand, excess moisture can also build up because of the intrusion from the outside (e.g. leaking roofs). The water gets into the building and then stays there. Faulty construction and poor ventilation can further contribute to the moisture build-up.
Dampness has obvious causes. However, it’s still not getting the attention it deserves. After all, its effects are insidious and gradual. As mentioned earlier, it’s probably too late before the signs manifest. Still, many property owners and managers prioritise prolonging their assets’ lifetime, which is why they take measures to early detect and control dampness in their buildings.
Are we forgetting something?
Dampness can result to serious health effects and costly structural problems. Often the first step to control moisture and humidity levels is by improving ventilation and correcting the construction issues (e.g. roof and plumbing leaks).
But it doesn’t end there. Earlier we mentioned that structural damages might be continuously happening beneath the walls, ceilings and floors without our knowledge. Why does it happen? One reason is that these subsurface areas are difficult to access. And yes, they are hidden from our view which is why they continue to cause damages day in and day out.
It’s especially the case with the sub-floor space. It’s one area that’s often neglected because almost no one pays attention to what’s happening beneath our floors. We might easily notice the cracked walls or mould growth on those same walls, but it’s a totally different case when it comes to the sub-floor space. Of course you won’t hear many people talking about sub-floor ventilation.
But when something gets less attention doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Some important things get less attention perhaps because they’re relatively new or not yet widely accepted. It could be the case with sub-floor ventilation because it doesn’t get much attention compared to the roof spaces and wall cavities. However, the huge space the sub-floor occupies and how it can affect the entire foundation and structure command a high level of importance.
For instance, the sub-floor space could be 5℃ cooler than most areas of the house. As a result, this area is a great site for condensation. In other words, the area could be always wet and moist. In addition, the sub-floor area often gets poor ventilation. It’s often the case that the area doesn’t have the systems to facilitate air circulation.
This is very important in narrow areas below the suspended timber and concrete floors of all residential and commercial buildings. Facilitating or improving air circulation in the sub-floor space will help in protecting the integrity of your structure (e.g. structural timber). We can slow down or delay wood rotting and prevent termite infestation as well. This is possible because moisture build-up and dampness can be better controlled.
This better sub-floor ventilation also results to better air quality. Remember earlier that we talked about the effect of mould on human respiratory health. Mould growth introduces potentially harmful biotoxins to the air we breathe. So if we could minimise mould growth by better controlling dampness, we could somehow improve indoor air quality. That’s because there will be minimal mould growth in the sub-floor space. Although it’s a concealed or covered area, the spores or biotoxins from the sub-floor can still find their way upwards if there’s poor ventilation and the area has become a thriving environment for mould and fungi.
To minimise mould growth and better control dampness through improving sub-floor ventilation, some companies now specialise in supplying and installing mechanical ventilation exhaust fans, mechanical ventilation intake fans, high flow cement mesh vents, louvered grill vents & heritage vents. For instance, here at ExtractAir we install the complete sub-floor ventilation system according to the unique requirements and conditions of the site. Each site might have varying moisture profiles which is why we design tailored solutions for each project.
The resulting better moisture control is critical in maximising the structure’s life, reducing maintenance costs and providing good air quality for the building occupants. This better moisture control can also help minimise the risk of cracked walls, warped timber, wood decay and other structural issues caused by moisture.
Why is it important to eliminate damp?
In summary, eliminating damp or better controlling the moisture levels in a building is about protecting the building’s structural integrity and more importantly, improving respiratory health. That’s because better moisture control reduces the risk of mould, airborne pollens and other allergens. Better moisture control through improving ventilation could also prevent, slow down or minimise wood rotting and termite infestation. This could result to the longer lifespan of the entire asset (e.g. or specifically the building foundation) and reduced maintenance costs.
In other words, eliminating damp or minimising it has financial, safety and health benefits. It’s the proactive approach in protecting both the asset and the building occupants. But this approach requires an ongoing solution. This way, you gain maximum benefits and truly slow down or prevent mould growth, termite infestation and structural decay.
One such proactive approach and ongoing solution is the installation of adequate sub-floor ventilation systems. As mentioned earlier, here at ExtractAir we first assess each site before designing the system. We can then install the ventilation fans and other components so that the entire sub-floor space will experience good air circulation (minimal moisture build-up).
Aside from being a proactive and ongoing solution, our installations are also long-lasting and affordable. You can expect a long service life because the ventilation fans are manufactured here in Australia. Rest assured that all materials are designed to work against the damp, humid and dusty conditions found beneath homes, apartment complexes and commercial buildings. In addition, all of our sub-floor ventilation fans have low voltage design with overload protection, polarity protection, humidity protection & rotor lock protection to provide you with safe, effective long term operation and peace of mind.
Contact us today if you require tailored and affordable solutions regarding your sub-floor ventilation. Here at ExtractAir, we have more than 15 years of experience in the field. Our sub-floor ventilation specialists can provide you with a written quote and free on-site assessment.