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How does damp affect electrical installations?

Mould or black marks on the walls? These are the noticeable signs that a home is damp, and you can be sure that there are others issues that are not so easy to spot. Damp can affect electrical wiring, which is a type of damage that must be avoided at all costs.

Water is one of the best electricity conductors and a damp problem in your home can damage your electrical installation, whether it affects a single socket or all the wiring. This problem demands urgent attention, particularly in the cold and winter months.

Homes need a certain level of humidity in the air. The recommended optimum level is between 40-50%. Anything higher may cause problems with damp and mould, most of which are caused by condensation. The solution is to prevent damp from stagnating, which you can do by installing electric dehumidifiers or ventilating your house for ten minutes a day.

Damp also causes you to use more electricityThe higher the humidity, the more difficult it is to heat or cool a home, causing you to set the air conditioning at a lower temperature in summer to get rid of that muggy feeling or turn up the heat in winter.

 

Why do homes get damp and humid?

There are several types of damp, humidity and moisture capable of causing damage.

Damp caused by leaks from the outside, mainly in the rainy months because of defective insulation, buildings that are not watertight and walls in very poor condition. In this case, the water trickles in through the building materials, and drips, black marks and mould appear. This is the worse type of damp, because it is invisible until it is too late to prevent the damage.

Condensation occurs when there is too much humidity in the air. When moisture-laden air comes into contact with cold surfaces such as windows or walls, the vapour in the air condenses and turns into water. This forms misting, which we often see when the weather is cold. It can also leave stains on walls and damage paintwork, cause bad odours, lead to the growth of mould and even make household textiles feel damp. Homes with this problem have higher electricity bills because of the cost of running heating or dehumidifiers.

Another problem is rising damp (capillary rise), which is caused by the type of land on which the home is built or the materials used in its construction. Water goes into the subsoil and rises through walls, causing serious structural damage. This is often a problem in old and poorly insulated houses, built with permeable or porous materials in damp areas. Mould can appear on the floor and the walls always feel damp.

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How can damp affect electrical installations?

The electrical installation is one of the most important parts of the internal structure of a house. When water leaks through building materials, whether due to a broken pipe, a flood, or any humidity problem, the damage caused can lead to significant short and long-term problems. 

As we have already said, water is a good conductor of electricity, and if it reaches the wiring it can cause short circuits and faulty electrical connections that can damage electrical appliances and even cause fires. Such damage may require rewiring the property, which is an enormous expense.

What’s more, humidity rots and cracks paint and wood, rusts metal, damages domestic appliances and is a perfect medium for fungi and bacteria to colonise the environment, where they can cause allergies and respiratory problems.

 

Tips for preventing and getting rid of damp

Here are some simple, everyday tips you can put into practice to prevent damp:

  • Avoid excess humidity by ventilating the rooms of the house properly to let fresh air in. It is important to open the bathroom window after having a shower.
  • Always turn on the extractor fan while cooking.
  • Install a dehumidifier in the bathroom if the ventilation is not too good.
  • Try not to dry clothes indoors. Laundry straight out of the washing machine is full of moisture that will go directly into the air. If there is no other option, dry them in a room with a dehumidifier where you have no plants.
  • A tumble dryer is a viable investment in the long term, especially in areas with long, wet winters. Get a good rate based on consumption times, such as Endesa's Tempo Happy, and follow recommendations such as using savings apps on your smartphone to get the best use from your purchase.

If the damp is already there, there are several aspects to consider:

  • If you find damp in your home, take care not to plug in electrical appliances and power strips in the affected areas. This will protect your home from short circuits and damage to electrical appliances while you search for the root of the problem and assess the impact. If there is serious electrical damage, you will need to turn off the power.
  • The best course of action is to get a professional to diagnose what is causing the problem, where the damp is coming from and the damage it has caused to the structure of your home. It is essential to tackle the root of the problem so that it does not happen again in a few years’ time.

If there has been an electrical fault and you have signed up for a service like OKLuz Assist, you can have professional help with you within three hours to sort it out.

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