A Student Guide to Damp

19 April 2017

Most students are not likely to be able to afford to buy luxury apartments or any renovated buildings when starting university. Renting a student house then is almost unavoidable for most students and is the most likely outcome for students seeking accommodation. The most affordable type of housing that tends to be chosen by students more often than not may also prove to be neglected by the landlord. While it is safe to say that the condition of the property can vary dependent on the landlord, if they haven’t kept the property in check there could potentially be some major issues that need to be dealt with. Damp is an important issue that shouldn’t be overlooked as it can end up causing health problems.

Discussing damp as a topic may seem a ‘dry’ topic area, however, it is actually a major problem for property owners. If there is a damp musty smell in your property it can be a definite sign that there is a damp problem within the property that may ultimately cause damage to your possessions as well as having potential health risks. The best time to make to check for signs of damp in a property is to be vigilant and inspect all areas of the house when your house viewing. This ensures you don’t have the hassle of living with a damp problem once you’re already living in the property which can be very stressful procedure when having to try to deal with your landlords.

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Timberwise are specialists in damp proofing and this helpful guide helps explains how students can identify damp issues before making the decision on choosing a student property. This guide also explains what can be done if you are already renting a property and the necessary preventive measures that can be done to reduce the different types of dampness.

Identifying Damp before moving in your property

The main issue when looking for potential property is knowing what you are exactly looking for when identifying if the property has damp or not. The simplest way of knowing if damp is present or not is by asking the letting agent “Have you had damp in the property before?” If there has been evidence of damp before then they are obliged to tell you, so make sure you are not rushed when viewing the property and take your time inspecting every area of the house.

How to spot Condensation?

To help identify a condensation problem there are some key points to look out for:

• Water droplets collecting on a window or windowsill
• Black mould may begin to grow on walls, surfaces and carpets
• A damp musty smell
• Peeling paint or plaster
• Mould on clothes and fabrics


Having problems with condensation usually occurs from daily activities that put moisture into the air such as showering, washing and cooking. If the property is unfurnished and empty then the only decision you can make is that if there is any black spot mould or any damage to the wallpaper it is likely the problems have occurred from the previous tennant. You will also have to make a decision on the size of the property required by you and your friends. The more of you in the property the larger the property you should be looking at renting as it is more likely that more moisture will be created.

Identifying what ventilation is required within the property

By checking the signs listed above you can spot condensation quite quickly, however, it is important to observe what types of ventilation (if any) are being used in the property. Ventilation is key to preventing condensation from occurring as it allows constant air flow in and out of the property. The extractor fans should be located in the most likely areas for moisture which are bathrooms and kitchens.

How to spot if Rising damp is present in your property

The easiest way of identifying damp is by simply looking and running your hands around the suspected rising damp areas will allow to you identify a rising damp problem. The typical signs of rising damp include:

• Horizontal brown or discoloured marks to be seen up to 1 meter in height on interior walls. These will be damp to touch and otherwise known as ‘Tide Marks’
• Plaster will bubble and peel away from the interior walls
• Wooden beading and skirting boards will become brittle and eventually show the signs of deterioration
• Mould on walls
• Walls will feel damp when touched

Rising Damp Cost

How to spot if Penetrating Damp is present in your property

Penetrating damp occurs when water from outside makes its way inside. This can be caused by defects such as blocked gutters and downpipes. There can also be defective pointing, porous masonry or cracked and broken render. When there are periods of intense rainfall usually the rain evaporates out the brickwork. However, there are cases where moisture fails to evaporate and it is allowed to pass through the inner surface of the property.

The signs of penetrating damp are:

• A presence of a damp musty smell
• Damage to internal walls (skirting boards) or external (roofing)
• Patchy black mould appearing internally on walls
• Watermarks may appear on the masonry
• Damaged timber as a result of the wood being saturated by damp (which could possibly have the potential of providing the ideal conditions for a wood rot fungus to germinate)

Penetrating damp on walls

What to do if you are already living or renting a property that has Damp present

If you are already renting or living in the property and spot that damp is present then taking action as soon as possible is important to ensure that your possessions and health are not put at risk.

Condensation is by far the most common cause of dampness in a house but, there are measures that can be done to reduce the levels of moisture in the property.

• Allow air to circulate by opening windows on both sides of the house
• Keeping air at a constant low temperature which will drop the levels of condensation
• If extractor fans aren’t already installed then they should be implemented as soon as possible in both kitchens and bathrooms.
• Making sure the doors are shut in areas where is moisture levels ensures that moist air doesn’t spread throughout the house.
• If possible try not to your dry clothes inside or on hot radiators if this isn’t possible then do so in the bathroom with the doors shut

Contact the Damp Proofing Specialists at Timberwise

If you are experiencing any of these issues of damp then fill out a request a survey form by clicking the link below or call now on 0800 288 8660 who will be happy to help with any queries that you might have.

Request a survey

To arrange a survey, call us on 0800 288 8660 or