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What Causes Damp In Houses?

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Damp is a single word that can bring fear to any homeowner. It is simply excess moisture in the home that is unable to escape, but that moisture can cause a lot of issues. It can make a room feel cold, humid, and uncomfortable.

If left unchecked, it can even cause structural damage. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prevent and fix dampness.

From identifying the tell-tale signs of dampness in a house to the most common causes, our guide on dealing with dampness will help ensure your home is warm, cosy, and inviting. Read on to learn more.

Table of Contents

Signs of damp in a house

As expected, dampness is usually worse during autumn and winter, which are usually rainy and windy with long periods of wet weather. If you notice a musty smell, it could be a sign of dampness. But there are other key signs of dampness to look for throughout the year.

  • If your walls feel cold or wet, or there are small black/grey spots, bubbling paint or peeling wallpaper, it could be a sign of dampness. The corners of your ceilings can also be a warning sign if you see browning in the corners of the rooms or where the chimney runs.
  • In bathrooms, moisture from showers and baths can cause dampness, so look for black mould in the sealant around windows and around the edges of baths and showers. Check inside kitchen cabinets too, as dampness can hide there. Check furniture against walls or in corners for any mould.
  • Windows are one of the most common sources of dampness, so be sure to keep an eye on condensation and pooling water on window sills. Check that the sealant is not coming away and that there is no mould in the grout.
  • Make sure to move furniture away from walls to allow air to circulate, as mould can grow on soft furnishings if there is a damp problem. If you have a basement, check the walls for staining, and if there is anything stored there, make sure there is no mould or mildew on it.
What causes damp in houses
Make sure to move furniture away from walls to allow air to circulate, as mould can grow on soft furnishings if there is a damp problem.

What causes damp in a house?

There are many causes of dampness in a home, both inside and outside.

  • Moisture and water can linger and cause damage gradually, so you may not know it’s a problem until it’s too late. Being aware of the potential causes of damp walls and ceilings is the best way to diagnose and treat the issue. Here are some of the main sources of dampness in houses.
  • Penetrating dampness is a common source of dampness in houses. Exterior walls can become burdened with water if even small cracks are present. Older homes are especially prone to this, with deteriorating flashing and mortar pointing that allows rainwater to enter.
  • Leaking gutters are another frequent cause of dampness, especially when the gutter is blocked, and water pushes against the brickwork and starts to erode it.
  • Poor ventilation can also be a problem. Every time you take a shower, dry clothes, cook, or wash dishes, moisture is introduced into the house. If this moisture-filled air can’t escape, it will accumulate and cause condensation.
  • Modern homes are designed to be watertight, which helps stop penetrating damp but can make ventilation more difficult.
  • Old homes may lack waterproofing, making them more likely to experience dampness. Period properties weren’t created with waterproofing in the same way modern homes are so that moisture can pass through ceilings and walls.
  • Additionally, features such as chimneys can cause dampness if they’re not completely sealed off. If you have an old house and experience cold rooms with a musty odour, particularly at ground level, you may be dealing with rising dampness.

How to remove mould?

  1. Protect yourself from mould spores by wearing goggles, long rubber gloves, and a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
  2. Open the windows, but keep doors closed to stop the spores from spreading to other parts of the house.
  3. Have a plastic bag ready to take away any soft furnishings, clothes, and soft toys that are mouldy. Soft furnishings should be shampooed, and clothes should be professionally dry-cleaned.
  4. Fill a bucket with water and some mild detergent, such as washing-up liquid or soap used for hand-washing clothes.
  5. Use a rag soaked in soapy water to wipe the mould off the wall carefully. Avoid brushing it since it can release mould spores.
  6. After you’re done, use a dry rag to remove the moisture from the wall. Then, place the rags in a plastic bag and throw them away.
  7. Finally, clean all the surfaces in the room thoroughly, either by wet wiping or vacuuming, to remove any spores.
What is the main cause of damp in house?
Once you have cleaned and dried the mould-affected area, you can treat it with a damp seal and then repaint it.

Repairing Damage Caused by Damp

Once you have located the source of the damp and ensured the root issue is resolved, you’ll be left with the aftermath. We’ve already discussed how to remove mould, a common consequence of a damp issue, but other afflictions need attention.

Once you have cleaned and dried the mould-affected area, you can treat it with a damp seal and then repaint it. If the mould has affected an area in the bathroom, it’s best to remove any grouting to ensure all mould has been removed.

When you’re sure that the area has been cleaned and dried, use a sealant gun to re-grout it. Don’t forget to let the grouting fully dry before using the bathroom again, as it won’t be properly protected otherwise.

Damp Prevention

  • To prevent dampness, there are steps you can take to keep your home warm and dry. It’s much easier to stop moisture from entering the home than to make repairs to damp-damaged walls and ceilings.
  • Clean visible mould spores and spots from walls with warm soapy water. For more severe cases of rising damp, it’s best to hire professionals to re-plaster and damp-proof internal walls, as well as repair any damage.
  • Make sure your home is well-ventilated by installing extractor fans in the bathroom and kitchen. Open windows while showering to get natural ventilation. A dehumidifier can also be used in damp areas such as basements or attics.
  • Keep your heating running for at least part of the day, especially in winter, to maintain a constant temperature. Invest in double-glazed windows, wall, and loft insulation to keep the heat inside and reduce condensation.

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