An elderly lady called to say that I had been recommended to provide some advice regarding an ongoing damp issue.

The problem was moisture on skirtings, archtiraves and plasterboard walls in a particular area in a spare bedroom. This room also had a strong musty odour. This had been a problem for over six years and the following measures had been tried over the years-

  • Place moisture bead buckets in the room on a regular basis
  • Remove any furniture/stored personal effects from this area
  • Remove all plants/shrubs along the outside wall
  • Dig a trench along the outside wall
  • Check the dwelling stormwater
  • Contact the council to check their stormwater at the rear of the property
  • Check the roof area for possible leaks
  • Onsite investigations by family members
  • Onsite investigations from builders
  • Onsite investigations from other trades
  • Onsite inspection from an Engineer (spent 2.5 hours under the dwelling)
  • Written report from an Engineering firm (14 page report)

wall ventsI made my observations in the bedroom and there was droplets of water on the skirting boards, architraves and plaster with a very strong musty smell to the room.

I went to the adjacent external wall and observed that there was an older trench and a number of subfloor vents located in the brick veneer wall.

I then asked for access to the subfloor area. The subfloor area did not have excess moisture on the ground.

In the area below the bedroom the subfloor timbers had a white and brown fungi growing and visible moisture on the Forticon against the external wall.

I then looked for the subfloor vents and could not see any. When the torch was turned off the area was pitch black with no outside light visible (which should have been coming in via the wall vents).

I went back outside to the vents and noted that all the vents were blocked by the Forticon* with no air/ventilation possible to this area of the subfloor.

Moral to the story-check the wall vents first!

*Forticon = polythene film/plastic -Forticon is a heavy duty plastic laid underneath concrete to prevent ground water re-entering and damaging the cured concrete