Keeping our kids safe isn’t about worrying all the time, as much as it is keeping a sharp eye out. Being watchful and knowing what to notice, when it might matter, and when you can be like Elsa and just let it go. That kind of judgement is far more valuable than just fretting your life away in constant terror.
So knowing what to watch for in your own home, knowing where to look on your walls for water dangers and finding out if your house needs damp proofing, that right there is some valuable knowledge. To help you with this, make good use of the following two lists. If your kids show symptoms resembling anything in this list, maybe look round your house for things in the second list.
If your children have these, and have them regularly and persistently, maybe make use of the second list
- Persistent sneezing
- Runny and/or stuffy nose
- Dripping at the back of the throat
- Itchy eyes, nose, or throat
- Eyes getting overly watery
- Overly dry and scaly skin
Now at this point, most of you are probably thinking that this list isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘specific’. There’s any number of common children’s conditions where this collection of symptoms, either every one, or just some in part, could be found.
Which is why the second list is important. With a little extra knowledge, and some keen observation skills, you can confirm whether the symptoms are being caused by something wrong with your house, and if so you can seek out a solution, some of which will be more Avant Garde than others.
At the top of the second list, the first question to ask is – when was my house built – or more generally than that, do you know if it was built before 1919, or potentially even before 1875. The reason these dates are important is that 1875 was when one of England’s many public health acts were passed.
This particular public health act said that all new buildings must have ‘damp proof coursing’ meaning the building’s had to be built with enough waterproofing that the water had a path, or ‘course’ if you will, to escape the building and be permanently kept out. 1919 is important because that’s the UK’s officially designated date of when a building is “old” and could well have been using techniques from before modern ideas about damp prevention were in vogue.
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to the question above, your next question should be ‘do I know if the building has had damp proofing since?’. If your answer to the above question is ‘no’ that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of damp, but it does make it less likely.
The next thing on the list to do is to check your house for damp. Obvious indicators are wet walls and a musty, claggy-air smell. The obvious places to keep an eye are anywhere in your house that deals with a lot of water, especially if that water gets evaporated or otherwise shifts into vapour, so bathrooms and the kitchen. Any walls that have a habit of staying persistently wet, even after the water sources have stopped their busywork could be signs that the house may not be as damp proof as it needs to be.
Other signs include wall staining, and here colour matching is an important game to play, as it can tell you what kind of mould you’re dealing with. If it’s dark green, it could well be rainwater getting in, where as if it’s a black or grey colour, you’re more likely looking at water from inside that can’t get out properly. Also, keep an eye out for a slight darkness and general discolouration to the walls around the base of the building. This could be caused by rising damp, where water is sucked up from the ground by the strange, gravity defying force known as capillary action.
With the black kind of staining, it might be hiding out of immediately obvious sight. This is because the spores that make up the mould that are the culprits behind this black staining settle best in areas of ‘dead air’. Places where there is relatively little air movement, maybe behind sofas, between shelves, beside wardrobes or other places that don’t see a lot of shifting of objects or other movement.
If you find persistently wet walls in other parts of the house, but no black staining, have a look in places like those mentioned to see if the issues can be found there. Once you locate the source, there’s lots you can do.
- Anti-Damp cleaners – There are lots of over the counter cleaning agents that can turn a wall from a metropolis of mould into a wonderfully sterile city.
- De-humidifiers – These devices clean out the moisture from the air that makes it easier for mould spores to move around the house and take root. Deploying them in the rooms where the mould forms prevents spores from spreading and settling elsewhere.
- Windows – Keeping your windows open a little longer than usual, especially on dry and sunny days, can keep the house supplied with fresh air that allows spores to leave and moisture levels to settle.
These kinds of options though are only stop gap measures. They might mean the mould doesn’t get worse, but they can’t stop it all together. The only way to do that is to look into a damp proof course. Get your house inspected, have the property fixed up as best it can be. It helps to protect your kids, make your house a more pleasant place to be, and gives you that little extra peace of mind that all parents need and want.
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