How do you treat and prevent damp? Here’s everything you need to know

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Damp can cause a lot of damage if you don’t treat it properly. Here are a few ways to stop damp coming through the walls in your home… 

  • Condensation is one of the most common but easiest damp problems to fix
  • Damp can affect the structure of your home and make it unhealthy to live in
  • Prevention of damp is often more effective than the cure

It's important to know how to treat and prevent damp

Let's take a look at the different types and causes of damp, including condensation, and how you can treat or prevent them. 

What causes damp in your house?

Most cases of damp in homes are caused by poor ventilation or plumbing leaks. 

Poor ventilation

Whenever you wash, cook, dry laundry or even breathe inside your home, moisture is released into the air. If this has no way to escape, it can build up within your home and form condensation, which can lead to severe damp problems when left untreated. 

How to spot damp caused by poor ventilation

Condensation on the windows and other cold surfaces inside your home means you may have a problem with ventilation. Low ventilation may also be a problem if it feels cool or if there is dampness in your house or a certain room. 

How to get rid of damp caused by poor ventilation

Reduce condensation.
Repair and prevent any existing moisture damage.
Keep your home ventilated by opening windows regularly.

Damp from leaking plumbing

If your plumbing starts to leak, you might notice dampness forming on the walls inside your home. As the leak continues, the damp patch will spread. 

How to spot damp caused by leaking plumbing

Damp caused by leaking pipes will usually start to form a wet patch on external walls and in the corners of a room. You’re most likely to spot it on a ceiling or beneath sinks and radiators. 

If you think this is a more serious problem, there is a dampness test that can be performed by a damp specialist.

How to get rid of damp caused by leaking plumbing

Repair the damaged pipes to prevent it getting worse.
Ventilate your home to help dry out the room. 
Call in the professionals for proper damp treatment if the damage is severe . 

Find out more about dealing with leaking pipes and plumbing.

There are different types of damp

Not all damp is the same. Different types will affect your home in varying ways. One type of damp will cause more damage (and cost more to fix) than another and vice versa. Usually, if you catch a damp problem early enough, you should be able to repair the damage quickly and keep the costs down .

Condensation – generally caused by moist, warm air settling on cold walls and indoor surfaces, condensation is common in kitchens and bathrooms. You can spot it by the water droplets it causes on walls and other surfaces, dark mould forming around windows, and an unpleasant smell.

Rising damp – most common in older homes that don’t have proper damp-proofing, rising damp usually starts in the foundations of a home and spreads upwards. It’s easily identifiable by cold, wet surfaces and mould growing in the external corners of your ground floor. You might also notice a strong, musty smell.

Penetrating damp – leaking roofs, gutters or damaged mortar and rendering on external walls can often lead to penetrating damp. Early signs include the sudden appearance of a brown damp patch, most commonly around chimney breasts or in the upper corners and ceilings of a room.

Black or dark mould – often referred to as mildew, black mould can be identified easily by its dark colour. It often appears in dark spots that spread and grow if you don’t tackle them .  

When should you call a professional?

You should be able to remedy most minor damp issues yourself by simply improving the ventilation of your home or reducing the moisture in the air. But sometimes, the type or severity of damp in your home may call for professional treatment. 

For example, if a damp patch is growing gradually, it may be a problem with your plumbing. In these instances, you may need a plumber to repair the damaged pipes and prevent the damp worsening . If you notice a problem, read our guide on dealing with a leak in your home. 

For penetrating or rising damp, you might need to call in the professionals to help repair the cause and to prevent it happening again. This might include roof repairs or the installation of damp-proofing to help air out your home’s foundations . 

You could also opt for cavity-wall insulation, which can provide more protection from penetrating damp than old-fashioned solid brick walls . 

How to prevent damp 

Most damp cases are preventable and ¬- as with many things - it’s far easier to stop damp forming than it is to treat and repair. Home improvements and general maintenance techniques to help prevent damp include: 

How to maintain your roof and gutters 

By keeping your roof and gutters in order, it will help to protect your home from leaks and penetrating damp. By cleaning your gutters regularly, you’ll reduce the risk of them cracking and overflowing, which could let water into your home. Careful monitoring of your roof will also reduce the risk of cracked and loose tiles causing significant damp problems.

How to improve ventilation in your home 

You will need to help excess moisture escape your home safely and reduce the risk of damp. Extractor fans, air bricks, window vents and roof ventilation  are all great ways to improve the ventilation of your home. Make sure you pay special attention to ventilation in your kitchen and bathroom where moisture and condensation are most likely . 

Moisture-resistant paint is a great way to brighten up a space that’s previously had a damp issue and also prevent the problem returning. Paints designed specifically for bathrooms and kitchens help to fight moisture and steam, making them a beautiful way to protect your house from damp. Plus, they’re easily wiped down, meaning you can keep on top of any mould that does develop by safely wiping it off.

Should you use a dehumidifier

Yes, this is another way to remove excess moisture from the air in any room of your house. They both help to improve the air quality in your home and reduce the risk of damp. Some smart options will switch themselves on when the humidity in your room reaches a set point to keep your home in peak condition . 

Damp can have a devastating impact on your home if left untreated. But it is easily preventable and, if you catch it early, should be straightforward to resolve. From simple additions such as a dehumidifier to better maintenance of your home’s exterior, there’s plenty you can do to protect your home. Understanding how to prevent damp can help you to maintain a fresh living space and also avoid the cost of repairing issues caused by excess moisture.