Normally, you can smell it as soon as the door opens. A damp cellar gives off a mouldy, musty odour. But, because damp attracts mould like nothing else, a damp cellar is not just a problem for sensitive nostrils, but also a genuine health risk. And nobody needs that in their own house. So, now: damp cellars – the most common causes and how to get rid of the problem …
The simplest reason for a damp cellar is a water pipe leaking and continually soaking a wall or the floor. Unless the wall needs to be opened up to seal the leaky pipe, this problem can usually be resolved quickly and cheaply. But if the cause lies elsewhere the issue can be rather trickier.
Cause: poor ventilation
Never air your cellar during the day when it’s hot outside. For warm air stores far more moisture than cold. And when the air in the cellar cools down in the evening, the moisture will condense on the walls, which are also cold.
Cause: no horizontal waterproofing
Are the cellar walls damp? In older buildings, in particular, the reason for this can be a lack of any horizontal waterproofing. This can be installed retrospectively, for example by cutting grooves into the wall at intervals and inserting laminate.
Cause: faulty protective coatings
Moisture can also penetrate vertically. This is usually due to faulty protective coatings. For example, bitumen, which is a commonly used black sealant for cellar walls, disintegrates after around 30 or 40 years. Unfortunately, this often turns out to be quite expensive, since renewing the sealant means a great deal of work: You have to dig down to the foundations around the outside of the building and then re-seal the walls.
Cause: lack of drains or drains cannot cope
Does water penetrate above the cellar windows’ light shafts when the groundwater level is high? Or perhaps seepage water accumulates on hillside plots, or heavy downpours fail to disperse? This is often due to a lack of drains or to drains which are unable to cope. Experts recommend that drains should be maintained every ten years by specialists, and cleaned out so that they can do their job properly.
Cause: blocked roof drains
Do you keep getting a damp patch in a corner of your cellar? This may be caused by a roof drain becoming blocked. Rain water then builds up in the gutter and eventually penetrates the walls. So gutters and down pipes need to be kept clear at all times. Have damp patches formed on the walls? If so, you should think about using a dehumidifier to prevent further damage.
If in doubt, ask a builder
Anyone who is unable to get to grips with the causes of cellar damp should, ideally, consult a builder. The VPB (German Association of Private Builders), TÜV (German Technical Inspection Association) or consumer organisations will be glad to help you contact these independent experts.
Air dehumidification ideal for cellars
Excess damp in cellars causes mould, which can result in allergies and other serious illnesses. Get yourself protection by using one of our inexpensive, energy efficient air dehumidifiers to keep your cellar permanently dry. Find out more about our range of suitable units – available now in our Trotec shop!