Internal wall showing signs of dampness

What Causes Damp in Houses?

We receive a lot of rainfall throughout the UK so it’s not a surprise that damp in homes is a common problem among homeowners. What are the causes of damp in houses, what are signs of damp and more importantly how can it be prevented?

According to the Government UK English Housing Survey around 1.4 million homes (7%) had some problems related to damp in 2010. The most common form of damp that was found during the survey was that of condensation and mould which affected 3.5% of homes in the UK.

Other forms of damp that can be frequently found are rising damp and penetrating damp. At Timberwise when we survey a property we look at how dampness is affecting the property and provide ways of treating any issues that we may find.

Dampness is a common issue during winter, but it can occur at any time of the year. There are tell tale signs to look out for when spotting signs of damp and these are the following:

Windows– If there are high moisture levels within the house then condensation will appear on windows with the tell tale small puddles of water appearing on the windowsills.

Black mould can also occur on the windows around the frames, this is another sign that you have a condensation problem.

Walls- If the windows feel cold and damp to the touch then this is a clear symptom of dampness in the home. If the damp problem is left for a prolonged period of time then the walls might also start to develop fungal growth.

If the wallpaper starts to peel or there is flaking paint then this is another visual sign that your house is affected by damp.

Kitchens and bathrooms- Checks should be made for signs of black mould growth on the sealant. The windows and ceiling should also be checked for mould growth. Bathrooms and kitchens are areas in the house where there tends to be high amounts of moisture. You should also be aware that musty smells are also sign of dampness in the property.

Basements- The first thing you will probably notice, if you have a damp basement, is that there will be a damp, musty smell. You should also check for visual signs such as stains, mould and damp on walls as well.

The Causes Of Condensation in Houses

Day to day living activities such as showers, baths, cooking and drying clothes cause more moisture to be released into the air and therefore increase the chance of condensation occurring.

With so much emphasis now been put on energy saving within the home we are in danger of not allowing our homes to ‘breath’ and trapping moist air within the home. Double glazing and cavity wall insulation are the main causes of condensation problems within modern homes.

Black spot mould

With warm, moisture laden air being trapped, when it comes into contact with a chilly surface it cools down quickly and releases the water that then turns into liquid droplets onto the cold surface.

Condensation is particularly impactful in the colder months when many people turn up the heating to keep warm. With the cooler temperatures on the outside, it then causes condensation to appear on the inside of the property, commonly on windows and walls.

The Causes of Rising Damp in Homes

Identifying the causes is the first steps to treating rising damp from your property. Rising damp usually occurs where there isn’t a Damp Proof Course (DPC) installed to the property or the Damp Proof Course has become damaged in some way.

Even if your DPC is functioning well there could be a case that the DPC may have been breached with something being attached to the outer walls allowing for the water to continue moving upwards.


It can also be down to the fact the ground level around the house has been raised from the addition of a path or driveway.

The Causes Of Penetrating Damp in Houses

Penetrating damp may look relatively harmless to the untrained eye but can, in fact, prove to be very damaging to both the inside and outside of the house.

Penetrating damp is caused by water penetrating through the walls from the outside of the property. An example of this could be from damaged rainwater goods.

Penetrating damp on walls

Penetrating damp can occur within the walls of the home – this type of damp issue has horizontal movement whereas rising damp has a vertical movement.

Preventing Damp From Occurring in Your House

Outdoor property maintenance: Prevention is the best way to stopping damp problems from occurring in your house.

Keeping on top of property maintenance is the best way to keeping away penetrating damp from your property.

This will mean that regular maintenance of gutters should be carried out and repairs, if necessary of exterior brickwork.

Maintain constant temperature: We would recommend that you keep a constant temperature throughout your home. The thermostat should be set at a lowered temperature for a long period of the day.

This will then ensure that there are no sudden rises and drops in temperatures which is a contributing factor for condensation to develop.

Keeping the house well ventilated: Ventilation is one of the most important measures of reducing condensation.

Installing extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom areas of your home will reduce the high moisture air levels. Opening windows in the property wherever you can help prevent damp and mould from occurring.

Contact A Specialist Who Can Identify the Cause Of The Damp Problem

If you are worried about how to get rid of damp and mould from your home then we recommend speaking to one of our damp proofing specialists.

Having a damp survey from one of our experienced surveyors will help diagnose the cause of the damp problem which allows us to provide the best course of action to rectify the problem.

To book a survey through Timberwise you can either call us on 0800 288 8660 or you can request a survey online by clicking the link below.