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What Causes Damp Problems in Houses?

What is Damp?

Damp refers to the presence of moisture, water and condensation being present within a property.

Problems with damp in your property can easily occur but without any warning signs and can cause serious damage to your building’s infrastructure if left. When looking for damp in your property there are a number of signs that you can look out for such as a damp musty smell, black spot mould or in extreme cases dry rot and wet rot growth on walls.

If you are seeing signs of damp in your property then don’t hesitate to contact Timberwise, as we have been dealing with damp issues for over 5 decades and are one of Great Britain’s leading damp proofing experts.

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.

Diagnosing Damp Problems

Penetrating damp problem on exterior wall

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 of 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 a 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.

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Signs of Damp Problems at your property?

Sources of Damp Problems

Issues from damp can affect any type of building and can cause timber decay and mould problems. These normally originate from poor building quality, poor property maintenance or the failure of an existing damp proof course.

Our damp proofing specialists are experienced in all types of damp problems that occur in property and can prevent further damp issues from occurring in the future such as; condensation, rising damp and penetrating damp.

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.

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Causes of Rising Damp Problems 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.

Causes Of Penetrating Damp Problems 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 or if the cavity wall insulation is installed incorrectly then this can act as a bridge for water to penetrate into the walls.

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.

The Problems of Damp in your Home

Dampness in your property can lead to structural damage over time as well as wood rotting fungi such as wet rot and dry rot. The longer the damp is left then the worse the problems of timber decay will be to the property.

Health Implications From Damp

Not only does damp cause problems to your building infrastructure but it can also come with health implications too. Damp or mould in your property can have a negative effect on any respiratory problems and exacerbate any asthma problems you may have. This is can be particularly harmful to young children and the elderly.

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How To Stop Damp Problems Occurring in your House?

Each damp problem is different and can be unpleasant for any homeowner. When your property is affected by damp it can fester and lead to structural issues which can be expensive to fix.
However, there are ways of finding a solution to the damp issue by making simple lifestyle or DIY property maintenance changes. When the problem is a bit trickier to solve then you will need a surveyor to investigate the property.

The first step to stopping damp at your property is to diagnose what type of damp problem you have and find the cause of the moisture entering the building.

Penetrating damp is a damp problem that can be treated through carrying out routine maintenance of the building. This can by repairing any leaks that may be present, unblocking gutters etc.

Having a rising damp problem will usually mean you have to consult with a damp expert. To get rid of rising damp will mean having a damp proof course installed or another of form damp proofing applied into the walls.

Surveyor looking for damp problems

Condensation is one of the main causes of damp problems across the UK. The reason why moisture builds up is through people carrying out daily activities in the property. With double glazing and increased heating in properties, there is less chance for warm air to escape. There are measures you can carry out by yourself to improve the ventilation in the property.

Simple adjustments such as opening windows when you are having a shower or turning the extractor fan on when cooking will help greatly to reduce the chances of condensation occurring in the property.

Sorting out the damp problem as earlier as possible is essential to stopping it from getting a whole lot worse. If you leave damp untreated, the problem will not go away by itself. It is important to understand that before any cosmetic damage can be fixed, the source of damp must be sorted out first.

Having an Expert Inspect the Damp Problem

The first action you must take if you have a severe damp problem in your property is to book a damp survey to identify the true nature of the problem. Once your survey is booked then one of our qualified surveyors will visit your home and diagnose the causes of the damp problems – be it rising damp, penetrating damp problems or condensation.

The surveyor will then provide a report detailing the best course of action to take. This can be from our range of damp treatments from the installation of a damp proof course (DPC) to providing condensation control services. Treatments from Timberwise will ensure that your property is kept damp free for now and the foreseeable future.

To request a damp survey for any of your damp problems, please fill out a property survey from the link below or call our team on 0800 288 8660.

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