So we enjoyed the rains, the hot pakoras, masala chais and cozy evenings watching movies together at home, and just about everything associated with the welcome showers that are such a relief after the scorching summer heat. There is something magical about being safe, dry and indoors when there are torrential rains outside. Of course, there was a time when we’d run out and enjoy getting drenched, too. Wonderful memories.
But, back to reality!
With the monsoons getting ready to bid us goodbye, we are also beginning to see those damp patches appear on our outer walls, sometimes seeping into the ceiling. Moisture trapped in a building has a magical way of spreading itself rapidly. Naturally, we are now worried and anxious to fix this before it spreads and costs an arm and a leg to fix.
As I go around our home and take stock to check for those damp patches, I recall an incident of many years ago.
We had gone out of town for a week and during our absence, there were heavy rains, unusual for that time of year. Because of a blocked outlet on our terrace, the stagnant water had found a weak spot and quickly infiltrated the walls.
When we returned home, imagine my shock when I stepped into the bedroom, where one wall with a window had become a “water wall” thanks to some gaps!.
Of course, we fixed the blockage and made arrangements to seal the window gaps ASAP!
But the wall took a long time to dry, during which we started seeing black spots – the beginning of mold and fungus. We made sure the wall was clean and left the fan on, to speed up the drying.
If you are wondering why I am freaking about a damp patch, it is a serious problem. Damp walls cause serious health issues.
Did you know that:
Damp wall patches are a breeding ground for microbial activity
… and over a period of time, these patches become infested with microbes?
These microbes are harmful pollutants and have a severe impact on our health. Other effects of damp are irritations in the nose, eyes and throat, sinus pain and other respiratory ailments like bronchitis.
A damp wall invites the growth of molds
Inhaling mold spores can cause it to parasitically grow on living tissues or attach itself to the respiratory tract causing chronic respiratory diseases. Some species of black molds produce mycotoxins which have long lasting impact on the human system.
An exposure to mold and wall dampness is linked with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, wheeze, in healthy people.
If one is already suffering from asthma, it makes the symptoms worse. Even in healthy children, mold exposure can result in respiratory illnesses or shortness of breath.
Mold produces allergens and irritants
Inhaling or touching it causes allergic reaction, such as sneezing, runny nose, asthma attacks, red eyes and rashes.
With my son already suffering from wheezing and my Mom diagnosed with a chronic lung illness, we were not going to take the risk of inaction.
For any house, new or old, water leakage is a huge concern. Unfortunately, we tend to ignore the smaller patches – and then, when monsoons arrive, we decide that we’ll get it done once the rains stop. Who likes the sight of peeling paint, leaky ceilings and walls and that awful smell of damp that everything in the house seems to absorb? Imagine someone walking in and stopping, and saying “hey what’s that smell?” Ugh!
Now, the first thing we do even before monsoons strike, now, is ensure that we have minimized the chances of seepage and its consequences. Here is what we do:
- Inspect the terraces, basement, walls, washrooms, kitchens and other likely places for dampness.
- Identify the source of the leakage.
- Remove unnecessary plant and weed growth on terrace and walls.
- Waterproof the area with the appropriate product solutions.
- Grout bathroom floor tile gaps with a good epoxy solution.
- Make sure windows and balconies get proper shade to prevent direct exposure to rain water
- Check windows for gaps and seal them
- Repair all broken drainage pipes, plasters and cracks before the rains.
- Check if there is any leakage from AC ducts and repair it immediately.
- Channelize water seeping from the terrace garden so it doesn’t seep onto the slab.
One thing to remember is this: no temporary or shortcut solutions. They don’t help. I mean, who would paint a wet wall?
Unless leakage is fixed with a waterproofing product, it will remain a lifelong problem. A delay in repairing can cause serious health problems in the family.
If you already see mold growing in your home, clean it up urgently and fix the problem. Here are some tips to help you:
- If possible, keep humidity levels low inside the house. An air conditioner or dehumidifier can help. You will have to track and adjust humidity levels as it fluctuates throughout the day.
- Check to see if your home is adequately ventilated. Do you have exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms that vent outside the house?
- When the weather is bright and sunny, air the rooms in the house.
- Avoid drying clothes inside the house. I know – sometimes it is tough. But this will make mold worse.
- Check your terrace, if you have one. If there are rain pipes clogged, as it happened in our case, get them fixed as they can cause water to leak into the building structure.
- If there are minor cracks, you can fix them with a good waterproofing product like Dr Fixit. That is what we use.
- Fix bathroom leaks. Sometimes gaps between bathroom tiles can cause water to leak and cause dampness. We use ROFF to treat tiles and close gaps to prevent leakage.
- Before painting the house, add mold inhibitors to the paint. For the bathrooms, use mold killing products.
- If you notice damp in a room, remove or replace the carpets and other furniture upholstery as this can retain or spread moisture.
Waterproofing is crucial for a healthy home. And prevention is always better than cure. If these monsoons have left damp patches in your home, I urge you to fix it right away. Get freedom from dampness.
So, please watch out for signs of dampness or leakage in your house and get them corrected before you pay the price with your family’s health.
To recap, places around your home to watch for mold growth are: bathrooms, ceiling corners, damp patches on walls, ceiling tiles, kitchen cabinets with leakage around it, wallpaper with a water leak on the wall behind, etc.
As a mother, a caregiver and someone who cares about a healthy home, I am taking part of this initiative with Dr.Fixit to say NO to damp walls, damp ceilings, rising dampness, cracks and leakages. Cheers to a leakage free India!
Will you support me?
I loved this video featuring one of my favorite screen idols!
If you would like more tips and home building solutions, do visit the The Happy Homes Blog.