What is rising damp and what are the signs of a problem?

What is rising damp?

Rising damp occurs when excess moisture from the ground absorbs up into porous building materials such as stone, brick, earth, mortar and into the structure of the building. The moisture evaporates from either face of the wall, allowing more to be drawn from below. Rising damp is common in older buildings, but can also occur in more modern buildings if your damp-proof course has been damaged.

Though rising damp may cause unsightly aesthetic damage, it can also cause the structure of the building to be compromised and cause you bigger problems in the future. Damp walls also encourage mould growth, which can lead to health problems for occupants.

You can often identify rising damp by just looking at and touching your walls, though if you are unsure whether there is a real problem, it is best to have a water damage professional do an assessment.

What are the tell tale signs of rising damp?

There are a number of typical signs that can identify rising damp including:

TIDE MARKS AND DAMP STAINING

One of the most common signs of rising damp are tide marks left on walls. Tide marks are caused by evaporation and salts from the ground. You will usually notice them anywhere up to one metre above the skirting board.

If you do not notice tide marks, another frequent tell tale sign is damp patches or staining. usually, these damp patches are yellow to brown in colour and similar to tide marks, you will notice them again up to one metre above the skirting board.

PEELING WALLPAPER

If you’ve noticed wallpaper coming off or peeling from the wall there may be a damp issue. Usually the wallpaper will start coming loose from the skirting board first, and the corner of the wallpaper may be curved up.

DECAYED SKIRTING BOARDS

As with many forms of dampness, rising damp has the potential to cause rot within timbers it comes into contact with. Look out for skirtings that are cracked, easily crumble or localised fungus growing on or creeping out of the side. Also, look out for damaged or flaky paint.

SALTS WITHIN THE PLASTER

Fluffy deposits in the plaster are a sign of salts within the plaster. This is another sign of rising damp. These salts are washed out of your bricks and into your plaster leaving what can often look like blistering patches on your walls.

BLACK MOULD

If you start to notice black mould appearing above your skirting board it is a clear sign that there is some form of moisture issue affecting the area. This is especially true if you have no other black mould within the property and the black mould you see is localised from the skirting board to up to one metre above.

What are some other signs of rising damp?

If the above listed signs of rising damp don’t quite fit with the damp issue you’re experiencing, but you still suspect rising damp, start by running your hands around the suspected area. If you have wallpaper on your walls, you may hear a suspicious ‘crunching’ sound – this is the salts that have been drawn up from the ground. Then if possible, look at the exposed surface of the brick or stone work. Check to see if there are any salts forming and whether the brick is actually wet.

It is also important to note that rising damp only occurs on ground floor levels as it is moisture from the soil that is being drawn up the walls and therefore causing the rising damp problem.
If your damp problem is on the first floor or above, you may just simply have a condensation problem or a penetrating damp issue.

Identifying rising damp

Sometimes rising damp can be misdiagnosed. So if you are not sure and you want some expert advice, give us a call at Zephyr Ventilations. We can assess your moisture problem and give you the right specialised advice.

How can I prevent mould growth?

What conditions in the home are best for mould growth?

Keeping mould from growing in your home is really important for the health of you and your family. The first step in keeping mould under control in your home is discovering what areas and conditions are best for mould growth. Mould spores thrive and multiply in moist wet conditions. How does mould grow? Mould grows easily when moisture and humidity are present. Mould spores search for a damp surface in your home so that they can begin to grow and thrive.

What does mould need to Grow? Mould spores need three things in order to grow and multiply. That being nutrients, moisture and time. Mould can start to grow on a surface in the right conditions in as little as 24 hours.

How can I prevent mould growth in my house?

Mould spores are everywhere. They are carried by air currents throughout your home. They look for a moist dark environment where they settle and multiply. In order to prevent mould growth in your home is to maintain your home in order to keep out excess moisture. This includes having your roof checked regularly for leaks, have plumbing maintained and drying any spills, leaks or flooding that may occur.

It is recommended that home humidity levels are kept to to 30-50% to prevent mould growth. Mould also grows efficiently in warmer more humid climates, and blossoms at 25 to 30 °C. Condensation on or around windows can be an indication that your home’s moisture levels are too high. Two ways a homeowner can decrease the humidity in the home is by increasing ventilation and buying a dehumidifier.

To increase your home’s ventilation, be sure to use correctly vented exhaust fans while in the kitchen and bathroom, to reduce the moisture in the air. Ensure that ventilation throughout your home is adequate to keep up with moisture levels, consider sub-floor ventilation and roof ventilation as well as high quality bathroom and laundry ventilation systems. If your home is still struggling with higher than advisable humidity levels, consider buying a dehumidifier to maintain a optimum levels of humidity resistant to mould growth. Make sure you purchase a dehumidifier that will cover the square footage necessary for your building.

Flooding and other water damage

Flooding is a serious risk factor for mould growth. When excessive amounts of water enter a building and remain for a period of time, mould will begin to develop in as little as 24 hours. Therefore prompt action is needed in the event of a flood to prevent or reduce mould damage in your home.

You may wish to hire a professional to restore your home after a flood. This is a very good option because a professional water damage specialist has the credentials and equipment to deal with flood and water damage in a home most flood damage specialists will even deal with your insurance for you.

Where does mould grow best?

The kitchen and bathroom are often places in your home that mould likes to grow. The humidity from baths, showers, cooking, and washing dishes is often higher in these rooms. Kitchens and bathrooms usually have more plumbing than other areas of your home which could develop leaks within the walls. If you have a roof leak, the ceiling could be harbouring mould. It is important to check for leaks in these areas, monitor the humidity, set up proper ventilation and dry up any condensation that develops. Be sure to also check for mould in air conditioning and heating ducts, washing machines, dishwashers, and in the shower and bathtub.

Preventing mould Indoors

Prevention is better than cure and it It is always better to take action to prevent mould through keeping your home in the right conditions rather than dealing with an expensive and unhealthy mould issue in the future. The right ventilation systems and performing routine maintenance can save a lot of money by avoiding mould contamination in the long run. The following six steps will significantly reduce your risk of mould or other issues in the home.

  • Monitor indoor humidity
  • Clean and repair roof gutters
  • Dry wet materials quickly
  • Fix leaks
  • Increase ventilation
  • Have your roof checked regularly

So, how do we prevent mould growing in our house? The key is to reduce the conditions that are best for mould growth. What does mould need to grow? Nutrients, moisture, and time If you control the moisture, clean up and dry water damage, and reduce the time water or moisture is allowed to remain (within 24 hours), mould will have less of a chance to take up residence in your home.

Give us a call at Zephyr Ventilations. We can advise on the best solutions for ventilation for your home to prevent mould issues. If you feel you may already have a mould issue our sister company www.mouldpro.com.au will be able to assist you with mould removal services.

What to do after your home has been water damaged by flooding

There are many reasons a home can be flooded – flash flooding from a blocked street drain, heavy rain, river banks bursting due to king tides, plumbing mishaps and damaged pipes that fail. All of which can cause mild to severe water damage in your home.

Is my home safe to enter after a flood?

When a house is flooded it can cause major problems for the structure of your home, your belongings and health of your family environment. As flood water can contain mud, wildlife, rubbish and other contaminants. Cleaning up is a long process and much will need to be sanitised and or discarded. A severe flood may even damage ducts, air conditioning units, the roofing and sometimes even the foundation.

The first thing after a flood is to call your insurance company. If you are covered for flooding they will advise on what they need from you in regards to making your claims. Secondly it is best to get your home checked over by a water damage expert to ensure that it is safe to enter structurally. Depending on the severity of the flooding, major damage can occur to buildings during a flood.

The big cleanout begins

After you have been given the all clear to enter your home you will need to start the big cleanout. The first step is to shovel out all the mud, and wash away from hard surfaces. Most furniture will also need to be moved out of the home. Mattresses should always be disposed of, as well as any soft toys and decor that can’t be machine washed, and upholstered furniture should only be cleaned by a professional if not, they may be too contaminated to be salvaged.

Photographs, books and any important paperwork can be popped into a snaplock bag, frozen and cleaned later on. They will need to dry slowly and carefully, while sometimes need professional cleaning and restoration services.

Clothing, toys, bedding and soft furnishings should all be washed on hot cycles to kill any germs. All kitchenware and harder toys should be disinfected. Cupboards and counters in the kitchen need to be cleaned the same way before kitchenware can be stored again. In fact all surfaces within your home should be cleaned with hot water and heavy duty cleaner.

Mould after a flood

Sometimes after flood waters recede there has already been a significant amount of time for mould and mildew to develop in your home. If you see the tell tale signs of mould, it is best to leave it to a professional to assess the situation. Mould spores spread and scatter so easily within a house, and breathing them in can be harmful to your health. If you do need to keep working on cleaning out your home in the interim, be sure to wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing in the mould spores, and do not do anything that may cause the mould to spread further.

Ceilings and walls after flooding

Sometimes walls will need to be remediated professionally or fully replaced. It depends on the severity and depth of the flood waters and their contaminants. Once again it is best to have your building fully assessed by a flood damage expert to see what needs to be done. Sometimes if flood depths are high enough even roof insulation will need to be replaced. Sometimes it can be salvaged, depending on it’s type and the damage that has occurred. Plaster and paneling can often be saved, but air must be circulated in the wall cavities to dry the studs and sills.

Electrical and appliances in the flooded home

All electricals must be switched off and inspected by an electrician before they can be turned back on. The wiring must be completely dried out, even behind the walls. Mud can be widespread and possibly may have contaminated electrical components.

Appliances may obtain stains, odors, silt deposits, and gritty deposits and will need to be serviced, cleaned and sanitised. Running equipment before it is properly cleaned could seriously damage it and/or shock you. Professional cleaning and servicing is recommended for electronics, TVs and radios, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners. The hard exterior can be hand cleaned. All metallic appliances that have been flooded should be properly grounded to prevent electric shock.

Flooded flooring

All carpets must be removed so that a water damage expert can inspect the subflooring and commence professional floor drying services as soon as possible.

Wooden floors should be dried gradually. Sudden drying could cause cracking or splitting. Wood fly drying specialists can advise on the correct procedures and timeframes.

How ventilation systems can help

After a home has been flooded it is extremely important first of all that a structural drying service has been commenced. There will always be an excess of build up in moisture and risk of mould unless you get a specialist in to set up effective ventilation within your home. Roof ventilation will help with completely drying out the roof cavity and ceiling while sub-floor ventilation will ensure that underneath your floors get the drying they need to combat water damage.

Zephyr have a team of ventilation specialists who can visit your home and provide professional advice on the best ventilation system for your type of property. Give us a call and one of our staff will assist you with your questions on water damage today.

Mould-proofing Your Home


Autumn is generally a fairly wet season and a prime time for mould spores to spread their wings and multiply. Mould is not only unsightly and smells awful, it also has negative impacts on our health and wellbeing.

So how can you go about mould-proofing your home?

Identify any potential problematic ‘zones’

Do you notice any condensation on your windows or blinds in the morning when you get up? Do you wipe it down to dry it? Blinds, curtains and shutters are often hotspots for mould growth as that is where a lot of night time condensation gathers.

Have you noticed any overhead dripping pipes outside? Sometimes these dripping pipes can cause issues with moisture build-up that can go on to cause ‘rising damp’ that can go unnoticed until it is a big problem. It is best to check the reason why these pipes are dripping, and lead them away from your building and to a drainage area.

What about your laundry? Is the dryer correctly connected to an outdoor vent? Or are you drying your clothes is a hot steamy laundry that is the perfect breeding ground for mould growth. How are the extraction fans in your bathrooms? Are they strong enough to remove steam and condensation from your showers?

Are there any drainage problems you have noticed around your property after heavy downpours? Water pooling in areas up against your building is not a good sign.

Any and all of these can lead to damp and, ultimately, mould. Take care to address such issues with effective moisture control at your earliest convenience.

Clean and inspect your roof gutters

Always clean out your gutters regularly, and if you are unable to do this yourself, have a professional do it for you. During your clean out you can see if there are any cracked and damaged guttering that may need replacing. Having a professional do this at the time can also mean they may be able to repair or replace cracked or damaged guttering at the same time as the cleaning is being done. Cracked and damaged roof gutters can allow moisture to seep through to areas where it shouldn’t be, allowing the build up of damp and eventually mould.

Keeping your roof gutters cleaned, and in good condition on a regular basis is one of the most effective moisture control techniques. Not only does it help with moisture in your roof cavity, but also leaking gutters can cause damp build up in areas of your property that would not normally happen if gutters were maintained correctly.

Have your roof inspected on a regular basis

Having your roof professionally inspected on a regular basis will ensure that any potential leak hazards can be found and rectified. It could be anything from cracked and damaged tiles to old or incorrectly installed skylights that can lead to roof leaks. Having a regular inspection will allow the professional to discover any potential leaks that can be repaired so as to prevent any future risk of damp and mould growth.

Roof tiles can break easily when they’re stepped on, so it’s important to take care if accessing your roof. Tiles can also become broken or cracked by branches dropping onto them, and even from children throwing items onto the roof, such as heavy balls and cricket bats. Skylights can also problematic for leaks. It’s possible for installation to be performed incorrectly, leaving gaps where water can get through. They can also become cracked and damaged by hailstones and branches. The usual wear and tear is also a factor, with older skylights developing more leaks.

For roofs that are constructed from a metal material such as steel or tin, it’s important to watch for the signs of rusting, as severe rust can lead to holes developing. Identifying rust early and taking steps to repair any damage can help prevent any extensive problems leading to leakage. Chimneys are another common cause of roof leaks, with inadequately waterproofed chimneys often being the complication.

Good Ventilation in your property can be the key

When cooking always use your range hood fan so that the steam escapes. Have your clothes dryer connected to an outdoor vent so that the moisture escapes outside rather than steaming up your laundry. If you are unable to do this, open up a window, or add a screen door to your laundry for ventilation. When you can, open up your bathroom windows after showers so that the bathroom can completely dry out.

Airing out bedrooms in the mornings is also a great move to stave off damp and combat mould growth.

BUT if you really want to look at some effective ventilation systems to ensure that mould stays out of your home – We can advise on roof ventilation, underfloor ventilation, bathroom ventilation and much more.

Zephyr are specialists in ventilation, give us a call today to see how we can help prevent mould in your home today.

The importance of efficient ventilation in your office

Did you know that air pollution isn’t limited to busy streets in towns and cities? Not many of us stop to think about the pollution INSIDE our offices – the air that is circulating around us on a daily basis. We all know that traffic and industry cause pollution in the air outside, but what is happening inside? It is becoming a bigger problem inside our work environment, with indoor air up to 50% more polluted than outdoor air. Air in a poorly ventilated office can be just as polluted if not more than the air outside. When indoor air quality is poor, it is simply not as clean, fresh and pure as it should be.

Due to improved build quality of newer buildings, indoor air pollution in offices can be especially prevalent as there are less opportunities for pollutants to escape. Better insulation trapping pollutants that are created through everyday tasks in the office environment causes them to build up over time and affect the overall health of everyone who is working in proximity.

If stagnant air sits around your home for too long, you will come across all sorts of problems. Condensation can form in moist areas like the office bathrooms and kitchens and can create damp problems. Mould, which is a serious allergen, will grow and flourish. Even in building that has not previously suffered from damp, bad air quality can still cause issues. Any soft furnishings within the office can all become permeated with nasty, musty smells that can be hard to remove. Eventually poor air quality can damage the interior of your office and change the way it looks and smells long term. If you do find one day that you have a mould problem in your office, our sister company Mould Pro would be happy to assist.

Poor indoor air quality in the workplace can cause chronic health problems for you and your staff and will have a negative effect on working practices. The most common side effects of poor indoor air quality are worsened concentration and productivity levels and increased fatigue. You must wonder how many work days have been lost through sickness as a result of poor quality air!

The lungs and heart are the main organs affected. Scientific studies have shown the link between bad indoor air pollution and health issues. Nasal irritation is very common as well as dry mouth, a constricted throat and scratchy sore eyes.

Indoor air pollution is linked to causing and worsening existing conditions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Strokes
  • Allergies

Sometimes just opening a window can do more harm than good as there is the risk of exposing those inside to harmful pollutants from outside such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter. These pollutants are typically created by traffic, so in many instances opening a window may not actually be an option. By opening a window there will also be an increase the amount of noise entering the workplace, further reducing the concentration levels of those working inside. Therefore suitable ventilation in place in the office should be introduced to quickly and effectively remove harmful pollutants. Reducing the level of air pollution within your office will help to improve the health, well-being and productivity and concentration levels of those working within the office.

The good news is it is easy to improve on the air quality within your office. New technology in ventilation systems will constantly monitor the humidity levels and flow rates of the air in your office, so that the system always works efficiently and effectively. Heat Recovery ventilation solutions will not only help you improve indoor air quality but also help you save money on electricity. Here at Zephyr Ventilation we are ventilation system specialists and we can advise you on the right type of ventilation system needed for your office.

A good ventilation system is the first step towards better air quality in your workplace. You can then further enhance your office space and improve air quality further by taking the following measures:

  • Introduce living plants which are natural air purifiers
  • Remove carpets and have natural, hard flooring instead
  • Use paints and other decorating materials that are low in VOCs
  • Keep photocopiers and printers in a separate well ventilated room

If you are looking to improve the air quality in your office environment for the health and wellbeing of you and your staff, give us a call to discuss the best option for cleaner air today.