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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
we are currently in Spain where it seems the great majority of houses, even newer ones, have a damp problem. Our present place reads high 60s to low 70s % constantly, even when outside is considerably lower. I'm wondering whether moving to France would give us better built houses!
 

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we are currently in Spain where it seems the great majority of houses, even newer ones, have a damp problem. Our present place reads high 60s to low 70s % constantly, even when outside is considerably lower. I'm wondering whether moving to France would give us better built houses!
Yes and no.

It really depends on the individual house. A well constructed house in Spain, with a VMC in the bathroom, kitchen etc and a good circulation of air throughout the house (particularly air vents on windows and some walls) should not have humidity problems. Likewise in France.

There are houses in France that have humidity problems but it is down how the house has maintained by the owner. The 'construction' is a factor but not necessarily all that important.

Houses wherever need to breath. 'Breathe' here is the important word. Old or new...they all need to breath.
 

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we are currently in Spain where it seems the great majority of houses, even newer ones, have a damp problem. Our present place reads high 60s to low 70s % constantly, even when outside is considerably lower. I'm wondering whether moving to France would give us better built houses!
We live in a stone house that's 6-700 years old with nearly meter thick stone walls and a dirt floor in the cave. Parts of the house are built against the hillside on which it sits. We've upgraded the windows and doors to manage heating and cooling better and we've installed fans for better ventilation.

When we first bought the house 7 - 8 years ago, the stones would literally weep. In winter, the humidity level was quite high. We purchased a good quality dehumidifier and ran it almost constantly (except in summer) for about 2 years before it felt as if the house had finally dried out.

The house is not bone dry now. I don't think it will ever be. But the stones no longer weep and it's quite cozy. We still run the dehumidifier in winter and along with the drop in humidity, we get slightly warmer air (about 5° C) while it's running.

Newer better insulated homes that aren't built against the hill or with dirt floors in the basement will, I expect, be much dryer. Older homes like ours, I think, attract the damp and will always need to be managed.

Best of luck.

Ray
 

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Agree with Smeggie and Ray*2

Humidity in houses is down to one or more of the following

1. How and where it was built. If it's next to a stream etc then it will be damp. I lived for 10 years in a 200 year old Normandie cottage....floor tiles on beaten earth, no damp course. Yes it was a damp if the house had been closed up for a week, but never a problem.

2. How it's maintained. If people don't repair broken rooftiles, leaking washing machines then it will be damp. As RR says, it can take years to dry out a wet house.

3. How you live. I've know people (in France) complain about damp on the walls, when they have saucepans boiling away (over cooked vegetables...AGAIN) and no ventilation - no VMC, no windows open etc etc. They sleep in hermitically sealed rooms....of course there's a damp problem...the human body is mostly water.

I'm on my third house in France (2 in Normandie, one in the mountains in the south)..I've known old mountain houses built directly on the mountain rock face have minor probs, but as RR says, there are ways of combatting it. Never had a damp prob with more modern houses.

I'm surprised houses in Spain have damp probs, do you have more details?

DejW
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Damp in Spain

Agree with Smeggie and Ray*2



I'm surprised houses in Spain have damp probs, do you have more details?

DejW
Apparently it is a major problem in most Spanish houses. I started a thread that has loads of replies about it, called "How far south to avoid damp houses".

For one thing Spain is a LOT more humid than I ever expected, even with less rain the air is wet, certainly where we are in mid Costa Blanca. Construction methods leave a lot to be desired with most houses having no damp course. Apparently this is due to earthquake zones. Newer houses are supposed to have something but there is an attitude of "we've always built this way". We now have a hygrometer and our house (only 9 years old and 'looks' well built is consistently about 15 to 20 % more humid inside than out! It just sucks the moisture in. Mould is a massive problem in Spain, you see it everywhere except in the rare really well built houses. I've heard people say that when they go away on holiday or back to the UK they just bring the shutters down and leave the windows slightly open to air the house.
 

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I've seen your other thread. I would say it's largely a matter of construction in Spain. It's generally far less of an issue here, especially if you buy a newer home. You still need to watch out for houses built against/into slopes, that there is suitable extraction in bathrooms + ideally a window, living areas built below ground, and basements - not forgetting old stone houses.
 

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We have a family house close to the sea near Cannes and another in the SW. Both are old stone houses and neither has any damp or condensation problems. The Cap house is close to the sea so there is high humidity in summer which causes no problem to the house and we have air con for the dogs and humans. The SW house is in a Continental weather zone so low humidity. It is built on one side into solid rock and lower than the garden.

People keep houses especially the new pink concrete ones like boxes they do not allow the house to breathe. To make things worse there are the open plan kitchens with washing machines, dishwashers etc adding to the moisture in the house. We have very good extractors in the kitchens which vent outside and the VMU units running 24/7 in kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms. The doors to these rooms are kept closed which allows air to circulate through the house. We have also kept the huge cave in one house with its earth floor, just putting down stone slabs with little stones to pretty it up. Our neighbours concreted theirs and any rain it floods.

Damp is caused by different factors than condensation, usually structural faults, leaky rooms or blocked gutters and downspouts. Condensation is more to do with how you live and heat the house and far easier and cheaper to fix.

We also never have the French drain stink.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We also never have the French drain stink.
French drain stink! You have that in France too? I'm fed up with stinky showers in Spain. Apparently they never got the U-bend thing.

And pink concrete boxes - oh dear! Still, France is far more beautiful than Spain. I so miss lakes and rivers, and trees other than pines, and style.
 

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French drain stink! You have that in France too? I'm fed up with stinky showers in Spain. Apparently they never got the U-bend thing.

And pink concrete boxes - oh dear! Still, France is far more beautiful than Spain. I so miss lakes and rivers, and trees other than pines, and style.
I don't have stinky drains :D However, there is a problem with an old, poorly laid sewer line just across the road from my building, which occasionally smells - that said, the Council does clear it which solves the problem temporarily. I have lots of family spread across many areas of France, and they don't have stinky drains either (they are all on main sewerage). Which is not to say it might not be an issue in some places.
 

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Every village in France has stinky drains, depends on direction of the wind , if the smell blows into the street. Also if there has been a long dry period and you have rain. You can smell it in summer. We are on mains drainage and outside all the houses is a covered hole in which there is water which keeps down the smells.

Style in France, then that will be Paris. Cote no, too many apartments, campsites and mobile homes. I am surprised at your view of Spain. I consider the Spanish have style in furniture, kitchens and bathrooms, and food. But not on the Costas!
 

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Every village in France has stinky drains, depends on direction of the wind , if the smell blows into the street. Also if there has been a long dry period and you have rain. You can smell it in summer. We are on mains drainage and outside all the houses is a covered hole in which there is water which keeps down the smells.

Style in France, then that will be Paris. Cote no, too many apartments, campsites and mobile homes. I am surprised at your view of Spain. I consider the Spanish have style in furniture, kitchens and bathrooms, and food. But not on the Costas!
Clearly an exaggeration and not true in my experience (many of my family members live in villages).
 

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In Paris the drains are truly horrendous. They are very poorly built. The smell is disgusting.
Poorly built and old, but a replacement program takes a very long time, causes access issues everywhere and is enormously expensive. At least here in my quartier they are maintained (though IMHO not adequately). Drains and sewers should be properly maintained on a regular basis - that's part of good asset management - unfortunately many authorities in many places around the world don't do so, partly (mainly?) because of the cost. It's also one of the reasons why there is an issue with rats.
 

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From someone who just now poured more white vinegar down all my drains, because of the stink that is a regular problem - We have both problems!

The drain system is old, and made in ways that are less than effective. Even our water pressure fluctuates badly, sometimes to no water coming out at all. The mairie looked into it and it turns out the pipes which serve our little hamlet of four houses are too small. So when the neighbor fills up the troughs for his cows, we have nothing.

The humidity is a big problem for us. This is a stone house built on a slope. There are passages made under the house for water to run through, and in one of the caves there is an active source which keeps a trough filled all year round (once for the animals). The humidity soaks into the stone and travels up the walls that way.

In some rooms (bathroom for example) the house is just so old, no air vent was ever put in, so it gets mildew fast in winter, when I can't open the skylight. We're having one put in right now.

Our house was built in 1801, so it is just really old and comes with various problems of this sort. We have had other houses in the past, less old, and didn't have any problem with humidity. We designed and built our last house and aeration openings were placed everywhere, so there was no problem at all. But the materials make a difference- stone sweats this way, so if it is exposed instead of being insulated, you risk having some problems...
 

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One of the problems with old houses is that they were not designed for our modern whims of living. Today we insist on draft free doors, windows thereby reducing the ventilation. In the past open fires created draft that ventilated the house. We expect to be able to walk around nude, so central heating changes the environment. In the past every kitchen had a fire!

DejW
 

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One of the problems with old houses is that they were not designed for our modern whims of living. Today we insist on draft free doors, windows thereby reducing the ventilation. In the past open fires created draft that ventilated the house. We expect to be able to walk around nude, so central heating changes the environment. In the past every kitchen had a fire!

DejW
Some of them unintentional!
 

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We expect to be able to walk around nude, so central heating changes the environment.

DejW

I am now trying to rid myself of an unsavory mental picture that ruins my previous high opinion of you DejW...

What happened to your famous English reserve, Mr? I don't even walk around nude in my own house when I'm on my own!

Too much time spent with Johnny Foreigner, what?

Regards


Ian
 
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