Small amounts of damp and condensation will appear in nearly every home. If left unchecked mould can easily start to form, turning the damp from a common problem to a health hazard.
We've developed this guide to help you identify and reduce damp and condesation, as well as treating the mould growth that often comes alongside it.
There are four tyes of damp that could affect your home. It is important to understand the difference between them so you can effectively treat the problem.
This is caused by water rising from the ground into the home. The water gets round or through a broken Damp Proof Course (DPC) or passes through the natural brickwork if the property was built without a DPC. A DPC is a horizontal layer of waterproof material put in the walls of a building just above ground level. It stops moisture rising through the walls by capillary action.
Rising damp will only affect basements and ground floor rooms. It will normally rise no more than 12 to 24 inches above ground level and usually leave a 'tide mark' low down on the wall. You may also notice white salts on the affected area.
Rising damp will be present all year round, but is more noticable in winter. If left untreated it may cause wall plaster to crumble and paper to lift in the affected areas.
This type of damp will only be found on external walls or, in the case of roof leaks, on ceilings. It only appears because of a defect outside the home, such as missing pointing to the brickwork, cracked rendering or missing roof tiles. These defects then allow water to pass from the outside to the inner surfaces.
Penetrating damp is far more noticable following a period of rainfall and will normally appear as a well defined 'damp patch' which looks and feels damp to the touch.
Leaks from water and waste pipes, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, are relatively common. They can affect both external and internal walls and ceilings. The affected area looks and feels damp to the touch and remains damp regardless of the weather conditions outside.
Have a quick examination of the water and waste pipes in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as the seals around the bath, shower and sinks. Also remember to look at the external pipework, such as guttering. This will usually reveal the source of the leak.
The most common cause of dampness experienced by tenants and householders. Condensation is caused when air containing water vapour is cooled by contact with a cold surface. These damp areas then attract black mould that grows on the surface. Condensation mainly occurs in the colder months whether it is rainy or dry outside. It is usually found in the corners of rooms and near or on windows.
Condensation and mould growth are to a certain extent inevitable in most houses, especially in older properties. However, there are steps you can take to reduce condesation and stop the spread of mould before it becomes dangerous.
Produce less moisture
Ordinary daily activities produce a lot of moisture. To reduce this:
Remove excess moisture
Always wipe the windows and windowsills of your home every morning to remove condensation. This is especially important in the debroom, bathroom annd kitchen. If you can, think about investing some mini dehumidifiers to place in damp corners and by windows.
Ventilate to remove moisture
It is important to remove condensation and excess moisture by ventilating rooms. You can ventilate a room without making draughts or causing it to become cold. To do this you may only need to open the window slightly or use the trickle vent that can often be found on new UPVC windows. This allows warm (but moist) air to escape to the outside and let in cool (but dry) air.
In cold weather, the best way to keep rooms warm and avoid condensation is to keep low background heat on all day rather than short bursts of high heat when you are in the house.
Insulate and draught proof
This will help keep your home warm and save money on your heating bills.
Black mould can grow on walls, ceilings, furnishings and even on clothes and toys. To kill and remove the mould:
If you are struggling with energy costs you can find advice and support at:ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers/energy-advice-households
There is a Priority Services Register to provide extra help to those in vulnerable situations: ofgem.gov.uk/get-help-your-supplier-priorityservices- register
Information about Cost of Living Payments can be found at: gov.uk/guidance/cost-of-living-payment
Grants of between £5,000 and £25,000 are available to eligible low income homeowners and private tenants as part of the Warmer Homes