The Electrical Safety First (formerly the Electrical Safety Council) has released the ‘Electrical Safety First’ app. They claim it helps to keep families safe with a simple checklist of potential dangers to look out for in every room of the house. Each checklist can be used to find and flag items that need improvement and these lists of flagged items can be set up for multiple properties or just used for one home. The lists could be emailed to a landlord, housemate, partner or family member. The app also has a link for more information on where to find a local registered electrician. In addition to the more basic information, there are links to other parts of their website where more detailed advice can be found. The app can be downloaded from your usual ‘app’ store or you can get it from their website by clicking http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/

Modern buildings are built to be waterproof – they incorporate impervious materials (hard dense bricks, cement based mortars and renders, modern masonry paints and external sealants), which rely on providing physical barriers to keep out driving rain and damp-proof courses to prevent rising dampness. Used correctly in the construction of new buildings, such materials and methods work well and will exclude the elements, as long as they are properly maintained.

 

Old buildings are usually built of stone, brick, timber or earth (cob), held together with earth or lime mortars and covered with lime render, lime plaster and limewash. These materials are permeable and allow moisture to penetrate the fabric, both externally (rain) and internally (moisture from condensation, steam and drying washing). Moisture then evaporates away when conditions are favourable – these walls and their materials are “breathable”.

 

Dampness in old buildings is controlled by this regular evaporation of moisture. Externally, porous materials are dried out by wind and sun. Internally, air movement through windows, roof coverings and open fireplaces promotes evaporation of moisture from the internal surfaces. Where moisture can evaporate freely the fabric remains relatively dry.