With damp being a common problem in UK homes, we’ve outlined the major causes, how to identify it, and how to get rid of dampness in a house.
Damp doesn’t discriminate between homes – from a sprawling mansion to a small terraced house. Often caused by homeowners failing to keep up with house maintenance, damp can prove to be a real headache. Clothes and furniture can be damaged, smells can start to arise and it can even trigger health conditions like asthma.
That’s why, if you do spot signs of damp, it is essential that you get to the bottom of the problem as soon as possible. So how do you get rid of damp?
We’ve pooled together all our top tips and tricks to tackle dampness in your house. You’ll find advice for dealing with damp, along with specific treatments for rising and penetrating damp.
Before we get onto how to get rid of dampness, let’s find out what causes it. In its simplest form, damp is caused by condensation. As the temperature falls, condensation rises, creating moisture on windows each morning, which will eventually cause mould and damp to form.
While this is the most common cause of damp, it’s not the only one. Leaking pipes, wastes or overflows could also contribute.
Rising damp that comes up from the ground tends to be caused by having a damaged damp proof course, or no damp proof course at all. Or, there could be water penetrating from outside because of a missing roof tile, a leaking window frame or a blocked gutter.
Before you can start getting rid of damp in your home, you need to know how to identify it. There are a number of signs of damp to look out for, including:
In order to get rid of dampness in your house, you will need to identify it and source its cause. Luckily, though, damp is pretty easy to identify.
However, you not only need to know that it’s damp, but what type of damp your house is affected by. There are three different types of damp:
The most common type of damp is usually caused by poor heating and ventilation. It occurs when activities like cooking increase the level of humidity in a building. This air then condenses on cold surfaces, such as windows and walls.
Look for running water on windows for signs of condensation, as well as stained curtains, decaying window frames or moulding on paint and wallpaper.
Rising damp occurs when water enters a structure from the ground. Signs of rising damp to look for include decayed skirting boards and floors, stained plaster, and peeling paint and wallpaper.
Penetrating damp is caused when water enters a building from outside and moves through the walls, creating stains or mould growth at some distance from the leak. This can be the result of defects in guttering and pipes, poor pointing or cracked rendering.
The sooner you can spot signs of damp, the easier it will be to get rid of it. But, what do you do if you do find dampness in your house?
Below are our top tips for how to get rid of damp in your home:
Dehumidifiers are designed to draw moisture out of the air, so can be especially useful if you have to dry clothes inside your house. They can also help if you often notice moisture in the air from daily activities like showering and cooking – all of which can lead to high levels of humidity.
If you start to spot water stains on your walls or ceiling, condensation on your windows, mould spores in your shower or a general musty smell, it might be worth investing in a dehumidifier.
Old bricks can become porous over time and allow water into your home. If this is the case, you may need to replace them. Or, an easier option might be to try repainting the bricks with an exterior silicone water-repellent fluid or limewash. This will help to reseal your walls, while still allowing them to breathe.
If you’re really worried about getting damp in your house, damp-proof paint can also be a good preventative measure. First, though, you should seek professional advice on what would work best for your home’s age and materials.
In the winter, when temperatures start to drop, it’s common to keep windows closed. As a result, with modern draught proofing, water has nowhere to go.
Condensation can result from tumble drying, baths or showers, and even just your own breath! When you boil the kettle or cook food, steam is also released to create moisture in the air. This then finds the coldest spots on your walls or windows and condenses. From there, it’s not long before it will become damp.
If you do start to notice condensation collecting in your house, try to get rid of it as soon as possible. Common places to find mould are:
If you only have a mild bit of mould, you can easily get rid of it by simply wiping it down with a wet wipe or a damp cloth. If it’s a bit more obvious, you might need to wipe it down with a mould spray.
When trying to determine how to get rid of damp, you may want to consult a qualified surveyor. They will take a moisture reading at your home, identify the cause of the problem and advise you on the best course of action.
However, you should be cautious of ‘free’ damp surveys. If you’re considering getting a free survey, get at least three companies to come to your property and quote for the work before you choose the best deal. If there are any inconsistencies in the type of work recommended, think about getting an independent damp specialist to assess your home.
Damp is often a complex issue, and there can sometimes be multiple solutions. The most costly cure won’t always be the best option, and you might even be able to do something yourself that costs next to nothing.
For example, condensation damp is reasonably easy to sort out and will likely be much less expensive than rising damp. Usually, all you need to do to get rid of condensation damp is open windows, not dry clothes indoors, turn your heating on more often, fit vents or install bathroom and kitchen extractor fans.
Rising damp, on the other hand, can be the most expensive type of damp to fix. Fortunately, though, it is one of the least common types of damp.
So, if you think you spot signs of damp in your house, make sure you do something about it as soon as possible. The longer you leave the damp to fester, the worse it will get and the more it will likely cost you to get rid of it.