Easy ways to spot damp areas and unblock an outside drain

Smaller plumbing and leaking issues can sometimes be resolved yourself. Before you call a professional, here's the easiest way to spot and repair common sources of dampness in your home, and how to unblock an outside drain.

Easy ways to spot damp areas and unblock an outside drain

Spot signs of dampness

There are two main causes of dampness in the home: condensation inside the house, and a leak coming in from outside. If you have crumbling plaster or peeling wallpaper in cold, dry weather, the chances are that the dampness is caused by condensation. If the dampness problem manifests itself in warm, rainy weather, then it's more likely that moisture is coming in from outside and is due to a structural problem in your house.

  • Damp patches at baseboard level, or a tide-mark on wallpaper anywhere up to one metre (three feet) from the floor, may indicate a problem with your damp-proof course. Check outside to see if there's visible damage to the damp course. Repairing it is a job for a professional.
  • Rising dampness can also occur if, say, a path or a flower bed is bridging (or overlapping) the damp course, and letting rainwater in. In such instances, the flowerbed or path must be lowered, or a channel cut so that it doesn't touch the walls of the house.
  • Dampness higher up the walls can be caused by cracked or missing tiles on the roof, or by leaking or blocked guttering. Get a professional to assess the cause and get it repaired straight away.

Unblock an outside drain

Blockages often occur at the gully, which is the square drain, usually outside the back door. If the gully is blocked, you may hear a bubbling sound when you drain the kitchen sink.

  • The grill covering the gully can become clogged with leaves and debris. Lift it with a garden fork and hose it clean or scrub it well with a stiff brush in hot, soapy water.
  • If the trapped water doesn't flow away immediately, then the blockage is deeper. Put on long rubber gloves, plunge your arm in, and scoop any debris out by hand. Finish by flushing the drain through with water from a hose.

Keep these tips in mind and save money by learning how to remove the source of dampness in your home and unblock your outside drain.

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