The Difference Between Rising Damp and Condensation
It is important to be able to tell the difference between damp caused by condensation and damp caused by other factors, such as rising damp, rainwater ingress, defective plumbing, or poor drainage.
Some damp is caused by condensation and tends to get worse in cold weather. The other types of damp (apart from plumbing leaks) tend to get worse in wet weather. Condensation tends to form patches of mould with blurred, soft edges rather than a stain mark.
Dampness is a major problem for many houses and flats. Dampness can cause mould on walls and furniture and make timber window frames, floors, and skirting boards rot. It also encourages the growth of house dust mites and can increase the risk of respiratory illness. It can also damage wall plaster and may also give rise to dry rot.
Easily confused, rising damp and condensation are both things which you might find in your home. However, while one can be relatively easily remedied before too much harm is caused, the other will need more time and investment to banish it from your home.
What is condensation?
Condensation occurs when moist air meets a colder surface like a wall, window, mirror etc. The air cannot hold the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. Water vapour in the air can be naturally occurring from weather conditions, respiration from human beings, and even plants. You cannot see it, but it is there in your home. The water vapour floats around your house and is innocuous. It is only when it meets something cold that it starts to become more troublesome.
The deposited water is what you see when you notice condensation. You can expect to see condensation on any surface where the cold air of the outside world meets the warmth of your home. Windows and thin, poorly insulated walls are the usual locations you can expect to see condensation.
Condensation can result in black mould. Black mould, or Stachybotrys, is a naturally occurring fungus that can be unsightly and damaging to health.
There are some simple steps you can take to reduce condensation -
- Ensure that your washing machine Is correctly vented
- Dry your clothes outdoors
- Close kitchen & bathroom doors during use
- Use pan lids and extractor fans when cooking and leave running afterwards
- Use extractor fans when taking a bath or shower
- Avoid using portable gas and paraffin heaters
- Cover up fish tanks and aquariums
- Wipe down cold surfaces when condensation starts to form
- Avoid overfilling wardrobes and cupboards
- Move furniture at least 2 inches away from external walls
What is rising damp?
Rising damp is different to condensation, although it may have the same appearance. House bricks placed onto damp ground behave in the same way as a sponge, sucking up the water from the wet ground around them, in an upwards motion, hence the name “rising damp”. Bricks and masonry keep on sucking up water until gravity dictates that it cannot carry itself up the masonry any further, usually at around 1.2 metres, and the damp levels just build up in the affected area.
Much like the black mould on condensation afflicted walls, the wet areas involved in rising damp attract the spores of the Stachybotrys mould, and that may be the first sign you notice that you have a rising damp problem. You may also notice the damage from the outside of your home, with a tell-tale tide mark on the exterior bricks.
Do not confuse rising damp with other common types of damp though. Ground floor level walls can suffer from a similar condition, penetrating damp. Common in cement rendered homes, or those where the cavity walls have been filled, penetrating damp is the result of trapped damp which cannot escape, or an increase in water vapour which overwhelms the few escape routes in a home.
If you have got a chimney, you may notice “salt dampness” from long-term water ingress. A giveaway is if you can see weeds and plants growing on your chimney stack, meaning there is enough water there to support their growth. Naturally occurring minerals and salts in the air travel through the wetness in the building and appear on internal walls as brown staining.
Treating Condensation and Damp
The good news is that there are really simple products out there which can remedy condensation and damp problems, and the ventilation experts at EnviroVent can help you install them to remedy any damp issues you have in your home.
With filterless extractor fans for your bathroom and kitchen, or specialist loft-based installations to keep the air in your house clean and mobile, damp and mould will not be able to build up. If the air moves, damp cannot set in, and there is no way mould will find a home in your house. Speak to the team at EnviroVent today to find out which solution is most appropriate for your house.