On average the Costa del Sol receives around 100mm of rain each month from November through to March each year, with the national weather office of Spain expecting this to increase annually due to climatic changes. This will of course mean although the Spanish climate will get warmer, it will also become wetter for a larger number of months with increase rain fall during this time.
As many will experience, this increase in wet weather coupled with the poor build of many properties has led to damp occurring in a high level of homes throughout the region. In most UK built properties a damp course is fitted as standard to avoid such problems as rising damp and condensation build up. In Spain, it is very rare for any property to have this protection fitted. Coupled with this are poorly fitted or low quality windows, which allow further moisture into homes whilst hot conditioning only adds to making homes feel more humid which breeds mould. Finally, brick work of buildings is not of the same standard as the UK and often does not include ventilation blocks.
So this creates two problems – one, damage to a property through rising damp, two - comfort and health issues through the build-up of condensation.
Who hasn't experienced it at some point - the mustiness of damp walls in buildings with no or insufficient insulation? And when the plaster begins to fall off the walls, salt blisters with paint flaking appear on the facade and spots of mould make rooms impossible to live in, this is usually the end phase of a process which has been going on for some years. At this point it would be wrong to treat these damaged areas "cosmetically" with only mortar and paint, and have to put up with a very unhealthy living climate with higher energy costs. This stage of damage requires thorough corrective action in order to prevent total dilapidation of these sections of the house. When moisture from the ground rises up a wall due to the capillary action in the masonry material, it is called rising damp or salt damp. It carries with it corrosive salts, and causes a number of serious problems,
Electro Osmosis Damp Proofing System - How it works
The system introduces a very small and perfectly safe electric current into the wall just above ground level through a series of titanium anodes inserted into the brickwork. Its effect is to repel the rising moisture molecules down the walls and harmlessly back into the ground. As long as this tiny positive charge is maintained, the protected walls remain dry and totally free of damp
Installation is neat and quick. A series of small holes are drilled in the masonry just above ground level, and tiny anodes inserted, linked by a special connecting wire which is 'pointed' into the wall. The finished result is virtually invisible and the disruption is minimal.
Secondly, condensation is a major cause of dampness in buildings and is nearly always associated with black mould growth (Aspergillus niger). Health problems associated with black mould include allergic reactions, asthma episodes, irritations of the eye, nose and throat, sinus congestion, and other respiratory problems
The problem arises because of high relative humidities, a lack of natural ventilation and in most cases, cold external walls. Sometimes it's possible to reduce humidities by regulating activities like drying clothes outdoors. Ventilation can be provided via trickle vents and so on but these are usually ineffective and unpopular due to perceived heat losses or cold draughts. Walls can be insulated but not without relatively major disturbance to occupants.
Heat recovery Ventilators provide a continuous air change, replacing stale moisture laden air with fresh, warmed air from outside. Units are easy to fit and provide an effective solution to stale, musty indoor air condensation and mould growth problems in any room in which they are fitted.
Hopefully in the longer term, both these issues will be addressed when new properties are built in the future, but for now at least there are some ways to solve the problem in our homes. One thing is for sure is the rain in Spain does not just fall just on the plains and will affect our lives more over the coming years.
‘The rain in Spain….mainly causes damp problems’ has been compiled by Fred Jordan of Damp Tech Spain, who has 34 years of experience in building services. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to call him on office 952804834, mobile 616872951
Please visit www.damptechspain.com for more information.