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Why Damp is a Major Risk to Your Health

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Why Damp is a Major Risk to Your Health

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Mar 25, 2024

Discovering a patch of damp in your home can be a major concern. The sight of crumbling plaster, discoloured paint and peeling wallpaper on your walls will immediately make you think of the expensive repair costs, but in addition to the damage that damp does to the fabric of your home, it can also affect your health, especially if you have a weaker immune system.

What causes damp

There are three main causes of damp in UK homes.

Rising damp is caused by moisture soaking up into the walls of your home from the ground. Rising damp occurs on the ground floor of properties and is easily spotted up to one metre above the ground. You may notice damage to skirting boards and stains on the walls as pigments from the plaster soak through the paint. Rising damp needs to be dealt with quickly by making repairs to the damp proof course around the bottom of walls and ensuring that there is no build up of soil above the layer of protection.

Penetrating damp forms because of moisture entering the through the walls or ceilings of your home. You may notice patches of mould forming around windows or discolouration on ceilings. Penetrating damp can be caused by gaps around window frames, damage to your roof and exterior walls and even by leaking pipes inside your home. The source of penetrating damp needs to be repaired to prevent further ingress of water into your home.

Condensation damp is the most common type of damp that is found in UK homes. Condensation damp is caused by high humidity in the home. Water vapour in the air condenses into liquid on cold surfaces such as walls and windows and then soaks through into the underlying material to create a gradually expanding patch of damp where mould can start to grow. Dealing with condensation damp normally requires that you take steps to reduce the amount of moisture in the air of your home through improving ventilation.

How damp affects health

Damp patches in your home can have direct and indirect effects on your health because of the environment they create. Mould spores that land on a damp patch have all the ingredients they need to start to grow and spread which quickly allows them to form large colonies of mould on walls which is noticeable as a black patch.

If damp and mould are allowed to develop in a home, they can affect wellbeing in several ways:


Respiratory Problems can be caused by exposure to damp environments. People who live in damp homes are more likely to experience coughs, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Allergies and Asthma can be made worse by the presence of dampness and mould. The breakdown of plaster along with spores released by mould and the byproducts of dust mites can be allergens, irritants, and sometimes toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mould spores can lead to allergic reactions, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Moreover, moulds can trigger asthma attacks.

Damp and mould can have an impact on your immune system as they are often found alongside cold conditions and poor indoor air quality. Certain groups are more sensitive to the immune system impact of damp and mould, including:

  • Babies and children
  • Older people
  • Those with existing skin problems such as eczema
  • People with underlying respiratory problems such as asthma
  • People with weakened immune systems such as those undergoing chemotherapy

Stopping Damp

If you have discovered damp in your home, the first step should be to address the source of the moisture. If you simply address the symptoms, the damp will quickly return and create long term exposure.

Improved ventilation in the form of better extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens reduces the amount of moisture in the air from bathing and cooking and stops the steam from spreading into other areas of your home. This stops condensation damp from forming and prevents the spread of mould which can release allergens.

In some cases, whole house ventilation in the form of positive input ventilation systems such as EnviroVent’s ATMOS are more recommended. These work by drawing fresh air into the home from outside to displace the humid air and stop damp from forming. Whole house ventilation systems protect your home and residents from the negative effects of damp.

Find out more

If you have discovered damp patches in your home without an obvious source such as a leaking window, it is important to find the underlying cause of the problem before it can affect your health.  Arrange a FREE home survey from one of our local ventilation specialists. They will visit your property to identify the causes of condensation and provide you with advice about the best way of stopping damp and mould in your home. 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

Arrange a FREE Home Survey now