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How Damp Can Damage Your Home

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How Damp Can Damage Your Home

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Mar 11, 2024

Finding damp patches in your home can be a major concern. Aside from the risk to your health that comes from damp and related problems with mould, damp can also damage the fabric of your property and lead to expensive bills for repair and redecoration.

Where does damp come from

The first question you should ask when you discover damp in your home is what caused it to form. Before taking steps to repair the effects of damp, it is important to understand the source and deal with that or the damp will quickly return.

The three main types of damp you might find in your home are:

  • Penetrating damp
  • Rising damp
  • Condensation damp

Penetrating damp is caused by water leaking into your property, either from outside via holes around windows, damage to roofing, and gaps in walls or from internal sources such as leaking pipes or radiators. Usually with penetrating damp, the source of the damp will be found in close proximity to the damp patches – discolouration on your ceiling will usually indicate that there is a leak above it, while a patch of mould growing around a window suggests that there is a gap between the frame and wall that is allowing water in.

Rising damp is found on the ground floor of your property. Caused by damage to the damp proof course, or soil banked up around the lower walls of your home, rising damp will reach up to around one metre above ground. Paint or wallpaper may be peeling away from the walls close to the floor, and skirting boards may be starting to rot.

Condensation damp can be found anywhere in your home and occurs when water vapour in the air encounters a cold surface and forms droplets that can soak through the surface into the underlying material. Unlike other types of damp which can be resolved with a repair, the presence of condensation damp needs to be dealt with by reducing humidity levels.

What damage can damp cause

When damp patches are allowed to persist, they can cause damage in several ways.

Rotting wood. When wood becomes saturated with moisture, the fibres that hold it together will start to decay. Bacteria and mites can enter the wood and start to break it down. Window frames can start to fail which may let more moisture into your home and worsen the damp problems.

Crumbling plaster. If damp patches form in plasterwork, it will cause some of the minerals that give the plaster its strength to leach out of the wall. The plaster will become less structurally sound and begin to crumble away from the wall. If left unattended, this crumbling plaster can spread and lead to large patches of walls becoming damaged.

Peeling paint and wallpaper. As the underlying plaster becomes damaged, the chemical bonds that hold paint and wallpaper onto the wall’s surface fail and separate. Paint will start to blister before eventually peeling away and leaving patches of bare plaster that will crumble. Wallpaper will start to come away from the wall and the fibres of the paper will separate, to the point where it will no longer adhere.

Mould growth. In addition to the structural damage that damp can cause, its presence also creates the conditions required for mould to grow. Large patches of mould on walls will discolour surfaces, but also release spores and toxins that can affect the health of residents.

Stopping condensation damp

Reducing humidity is the only way to stop condensation damp. There are steps you can take to lower the amount of water vapour in your home such as ensuring that you avoid drying clothes indoors, use pan lids when cooking, and close the door when taking a shower or bath, but the only permanent solution is improved ventilation.

Extractor fans in your bathroom and kitchen will reduce the amount of steam that can escape into the rest of your home. Whole house ventilation systems such as EnviroVent ATMOS are effective if you find damp away from an obvious source. Positive Input Ventilation works by drawing fresh filtered air into your home at roof level and then distributing it around your home. This displaces the humid air to stop condensation and damp from forming.

Find out more

Avoid expensive repair bills due to damp by improving your home’s ventilation. Our local ventilation specialists can visit your property to conduct a free home survey that will identify the causes of condensation and damp. Simply enter your postcode below to find an expert in your area and stop condensation before it becomes a more expensive problem.

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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