Your Damp House Winter Checklist

Last winter in Adelaide it rained.  I mean it really rained.  The storms were quick and ferocious.   Now, our house has small leaks that we know about and thanks to lots of gum trees, gutters that overflow.  Its all pretty typical for an older house and a busy family with other priorities.  What do they say about builders that never get around to fixing their own home? Well, damp specialists never getting around to fixing their own damp house. 

But last winter something else happened that caused my husband and I to sit back and decide it was time to do something about it.     It was a particularly heavy rain event and we were having some friends over for dinner.  Their son came out of our toilet and complained that hot water had been falling on his head.   We both rushed to look and discovered that water was leaking from our roof through the ceiling light onto the floor.  We made the area safe at the time but decided that night it was time to waterproof our damp house.

 Luckily as damp specialists we knew where to start but we have prepared this checklist for you to check your home this winter and avoid any nasty surprises. 


  1. Clean out and check your gutters

gutter blocked with leavesNow that the autumn leaves have stopped falling it is time to check and clean out your gutters.   Empty them of leaves, mud and debris and hose clean where possible.

Cleaning your gutters means that rain can drain away easily and it won’t overflow as quickly.   This prevents water damage to your eaves, inside your roof or below on your pavers and foundations.

Check your gutters for rust spots, holes and breaks also and fix and/or replace if required.

  1. Check your down pipes

Whilst you are up on the ladder it is a great chance to check all your homes down pipes as well.    Are they connected properly?  Are there any holes or breaks?   Do they drain away to storm water at the base.

By ensuring that your down pipes are attached properly you prevent incidences of what is commonly called falling damp.  Continual moisture against your masonry from a leaking pipe can cause rising damp type symptoms such as salt stains, blistering paint, plaster and erosion of mortar.   In extreme cases you can also get mould.

Fix any issues if required – you may need to call a specialist for this.

  1. Check your roof

And finally, check your roof for any cracked, broken or missing roof tiles.   Ensure that the flashing is in place and that ridge tiles are secure and unbroken.

If you have any damp patches on your ceilings that could be a sign that you have a cracked tile, ridge or a leak somewhere in your roof.  It is worth at this point calling in a roof expert to thoroughly check over the area and determine where the leak is occurring.

  1. Check drainage around your home

Are there any areas that water pools up against your home?  Or do you find water seeping in during heavy rain?

If so now might be the time to improve the drainage around your home.  You may need to investigate installing a series of Ag drains to direct water away from the area of concern.

Do you have drains blocked with debris?    Clean them out to allow water to drain away easily.

  1. Rain Water Tank

Is your rain water tank securely attached?  Do you know where it overflows?   Does it flow down and away from your house?

Check all connections for your rain water tank.  Are they free of debris and in good working order and is the overflow working as it should.  If your tank is full it could be worth using some of that water now or draining some of the water in preparation for heavy rains.

  1. Prune your trees

It is worth pruning any branches that are dead or overhanging the house or power lines now.  Better to do it now than have heavy branches fall on your roof in the middle of a storm.

  1. Chimney

If you have a working chimney make sure it is cleaned out prior to winter. Every couple of years get it inspected by a professional to prevent safety issues and fire hazards.

These maintenance steps will obviously not protect you from a severe thunderstorm event or from flooding but it may help to prevent a damp house this year.      To help you take measures to protect your family and pets during severe storms then click on this link to the SES website for further information.  

Is it Salt Damp? – A Quick Checklist

Have you seen some damage to your walls and thought “Is it Salt Damp?”, then this Checklist is just for you.

So grab your IPad, load this checklist, and start to have a look around your home.  Start at the beginning.   Are the first 3 statements true?  If not, then it is unlikely the issue is Rising Damp and Salt Attack but another form of damp. But don’t despair … give our office a call on 813221166 and we can try and assist you further or point you in the right direction.

If they are true then keep reading.   Do any of the Exterior and/or Interior statements match the issues you are seeing around your building?  If yes, jump on your phone and give us a call.  We can get your sorted in no time at all.

Is it Salt Damp? – Firstly:

  •  Was the property built before 1978?
  • Is there an obvious damp proof barrier at the base of the wall between foundation and bricks? This could be black plastic, kiln fired bricks or tar. If one exists does it appear to be functioning?
  • Are the symptoms occurring on the first floor of the building only – Is the damp below eye level?

Is it Salt Damp? – Exterior Signs:

salt damp on external brick wall

  • Exterior damage to wall (as mentioned below) from ground level to maximum height of about 1m
  • Brick faces have “blown” off or crumbled away
  • Stones have begun to crumble and erode
  • Gaps between bricks and /or stones begin to appear
  • Mortar is “dusty” and / or crumbling between your stones and or bricks.
  • A dark or wet stain is evident at the base of the wall (particularly during wet weather)
  • Vents appear to be clogged with dirt / mud or there are no vents at all visible in wall or partially covered by paths or paving.
  • Render is bubbling or breaking away from the wall surface.
  • White furry salts (efflorescence) is appearing on the wall

Is it Salt Damp? – Interior Signs:

salt damp on internal wall

  • Plaster inside is damp and /or bubbling and breaking away from the wall surface
  • Paint inside is damp and / or bubbling and blistering off the wall.
  • Tide line or a line of moisture appears at the base of your wall.
  • Wall is beginning to discolour
  • White furry salts (efflorescence) is appearing on the walls
  • Skirting boards are beginning to rot or appear damp
  • Damage and / or dis-colouration is appearing at the base of the walls up to a maximum height of about 1m
  • Damage is not localised to a small patch behind a bathroom / toilet / laundry / kitchen

Think you may have salt damp then give us a call or click here and we can arrange a time to come out for a free inspection.

General Notes:

The above information is a guide only. Often these signs could indicate a different damp related issued. It is therefore best to always consult with a professional and request a free onsite inspection. At the time of inspection they will be able to determine if you have a problem with Salt Damp and the best means of rectifying the issue.

Be very wary of contractors who are happy to quote over the phone to fix a salt damp issue without inspecting your property. It will be impossible for them to advise over the phone if it is salt damp or an issue from a pipe leak, roofing issue, lateral damp or sub-floor ventilation.