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Does Damp Get Worse over Time

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Does Damp Get Worse Over Time

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Dec 07, 2023

It is easy to miss the first signs of a damp problem developing in your home, but as soon as you spot the telltale signals of damp, you need to act as quickly as possible to minimise the amount of damage that the damp will cause.

What are the signs of damp

Depending on the type of damp that you have in your home, the initial symptoms will vary.

If you have rising damp, which is caused by moisture from the ground soaking up into walls, the first sign that there is a problem will be found on the ground floor of your home.  As the moisture is coming up from ground level, the first area to be affected will be closest to the floor.  You may start to see stains on walls that are up to 1 metre above the ground level.  Skirting boards may start to decay, and wallpaper may start to peel at the lower parts of the wall.  As the damp develops, you will start to see the plasterwork begin to crumble and notice patches of mould forming.

Penetrating damp is caused by water leaking through the walls of your house.  The first sign will be a discoloured patch on a wall or ceiling in the area where water is soaking through.  Penetrating damp may be caused by a hole in a ceiling or a gap in the sealant around a window, but it can also come from internal sources such as a leaking pipe.  As with rising damp, the first signs may be discolouration of plaster or a persistent wet patch on a wall or ceiling. 

The third, and most common type of damp found in UK homes is condensation damp.  This is caused by moisture in the air condensing on cold surfaces such as exterior walls and soaking in.  With condensation damp, there may not be an obvious source of moisture – it could be caused by water vapour from your bathroom or kitchen escaping into cooler areas of your home.  Condensation damp is often accompanied by patches of mould growth and is commonly seen in bathrooms.

Does damp get worse

The sooner you deal with the source of damp, the better.

Once damp has started to get a foothold in your home, the damage that it causes will get worse.  Small patches of damp can quickly cause plaster to crumble, and while the initial problem may be confined to a small area, it can soon spread and require extensive remedial work to be carried out.

A secondary problem with not dealing with damp in a timely manner is mould.  Mould grows from microscopic spores that are spread in the air.  Once the spores land in a suitable place, they will quickly activate and start to grow.  Mould enjoys damp conditions and can spread into large patches quickly.

People with weaker immune systems such as young children, the elderly, and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma can suffer from health problems from mould, and some species are toxic.

Stopping damp permanently

If you have discovered damp patches in your home, it is important to identify the source of the problem before taking action.

Rising damp is normally caused by a fault with the damp proof course in your home’s walls.  This is an impermeable membrane that is located just above the ground and acts as a barrier to moisture.  If you have rising damp, you will need to have the problem repaired by a specialist, and then replace any affected plasterwork.

If you have penetrating damp, fixing the source of the moisture should be your priority.  Whether you need to replace tiles on a wall, replace the seal around a window, or fix a leaking pipe, this needs to be done as quickly as possible to prevent the damp problem from getting worse.

The cause of condensation damp is the moisture that we generate daily in our homes from bathing, cooking, and drying clothes.  Taking steps to minimise the amount of water vapour released such as by using pan lids when cooking and drying clothes outdoors rather than on radiators can help to reduce humidity levels, but in most cases, the problem is due to insufficient ventilation being available to remove water vapour.  Installing more modern extractor fans that can detect moisture in the air, or, if you have damp problems in multiple areas, whole house ventilation such as a Positive Input Ventilation System (PIV) will help.

Find out more

If you are worried about damp in your home, act as soon as possible.  Book a free home survey with one of our local ventilation specialists.  They can visit your property and identify the cause of damp before recommending an appropriate solution.  Simply enter your postcode below to find an expert near you.

Need help with condensation, mould or damp problems?

One of our local experts will contact you to learn more about your problems, offer free expert advice and make recommendations for a permanent solution.

During the free survey we will

  • check Assess any condensation, damp or mould problems in your property
  • check Take readings of the relative humidity levels
  • check Identify any underlying problems and make recommendations for a permanent solution

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