Dampness and mould: the musty smell that’s lingering in your home could be a sign of something sinister

There is no greater turn off for a home buyer than discovering evidence of rising damp or water leaks in a potential new home. Moisture issues can lead to mould growth and serious respiratory illnesses. But could your naked eye detect such a defect at a brief 15 minute open house inspection? Apart from a musty smell that you might not be able to put your finger on, how would you know if a home is hiding some serious flaws? You need to call in the experts.

Why dampness is a disaster waiting to happen

Rising damp occurs when the external walls of a house absorb moisture from the ground – either as a result of blocked or leaking gutters, a broken pipe or poor site drainage to name a few. Sub floor ventilation is meant to assist with subfloor moisture but, when it fails in combination with a faulty damp proof course, dampness issues arise. So too does the risk of timber rot, pests like termites and the build-up of mould. This is the sort of ruin that isn’t immediately evident but can compromise the structural integrity of a home.

The damage isn’t limited to the below the surface of the home either. It can conspicuously creep inside too. The internal walls of a home commonly comprise of porous materials like plasterboard which easily absorb moisture, almost like sucking water through a straw. Damage is noticeable in the way of water marks or stains and can cause paint to peel from the wall.

Older homes are at greater risk of damp issues because of their age and deterioration over the years.

The scourge of rising damp and mould

If you can’t see mould, you sure can smell it. Its presence is distinguished by a distinct musty odour.

Mould can grow anywhere – in walls and ceilings, on tiles and wood – or just about any place where there is moisture and poor ventilation: the two ingredients that encourage fungus to thrive.

The health effects of breathing airborne mould spores can be temporary – like sneezing, coughing or headaches – but the impacts can be more severe and trigger respiratory infections or worse for people who suffer chronic conditions like asthma or lung problems.

Call in the experts to stop mould in its tracks

Sure, a little bit of white vinegar and detergent might get rid of mould but that really is only a band-aid solution. The best way to control mould is to control the source of moisture feeding it. But you might need to enlist the help of an expert to find the likely source.

Whether you are looking at buying a home or you’ve discovered water damage or mould in your own home, you should call in the specialists. A building and pest inspection by the professionals is the best way to assess the interior and exterior of a home to identify any sources of moisture. They can also recommend what can be done to rectify the problem.

If a professional building inspection uncovers moisture issues that are too much for you to bear, you can walk away from a sale with peace of mind that you have saved yourself the cost of remedial work. Otherwise, use it to your advantage in the negotiation process.

For homeowners who have noticed signs of water damage in their home or picked up on that musty odour, take urgent action and book an inspection to prevent further damage.