The trouble with dampness – Mornington

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You might have a look at the three photos I took under a timber floor of a nice home in Mornington the other day. Nothing very spectacular are they? There is minor plumbing leak and a leaky bathroom / shower floor. The trouble is that these faults were combined with zero sub-floor ventilation caused by the covering of the wall air vent openings by new landscaping.

Yes, the landscapers had laid new concrete paths and paving around the house over the top of the old pavers – bringing the level of the paving well above the wall-vents – totally obstructing them. The result is that the subfloor had a strong musty smell, a slimy mound covered the dampest parts of the soil, and mould was evident on the underside of parts of the flooring. 

Mould and termite infestation

Well, as a termite specialist I can confirm that this home is highly attractive to termite infestation. But – perhaps more importantly, there must be a risk from mould spores to the building occupants. As a mere termite specialist, I am not qualified to give our client’s advice that is medically related. But, I believe that it is my duty of care to at least warn them the possibility exists so that they may make further enquiry. 

I verbally explained to these Mornington clients my own experience with mould under a floor – how I was sick with a very bad cough for a week after ‘popping under a damp floor for a quick look’ without wearing a respirator- and how I can continue to smell the distinctive mould smell on my clothes for days after going under a mouldy floor.

The remedy is simple but tough. Those air vents simply have to be opened up. This may mean that the new paving has to be cut away from each vent – all around the house, so as to allow a flow of air right through from one side to another. It is surprising how effective these air vents are, since there is usually a build-up of higher air pressure on one side of the building which forces air through those vents and freshens up the sub-floor.

Dampness under buildings is really rather nasty and, in some ways, is worse than termites. Fortunately, a termite inspection to mitigate risk and a subsequent report provides for considerable focus on reporting any dampness issues, and gives peace of mind for our clients.