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If damp is allowed to develop within your home, it can result in the growth of mould and potential damage to the structure of your property. If you find damp in your home, then you must act as quickly as possible to remove the cause and prevent the issue from getting worse.

What actually causes damp to appear?

Essentially, damp is able to form when moisture soaks into porous surfaces in the home, making them saturated. The most common form of damp is condensation, which forms when moist, warm air touches a cold surface, such as a wall or window but it can also build up in other ways.

There are three main sources of moisture within a home that can result in damp:

Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp is caused by water soaking through a wall or a ceiling. It may be caused by gaps around windows and doors, holes in the roof, leaking pipes, or damage to any external walls within the property.

It is usually identified by dark stains on the walls which are caused by pigments from underlying plaster, or rust, coming through the layers of paint.

Rising damp

Rising damp is caused by water soaking up into the walls of your home through the ground, due to a lack of a damp-proof barrier at the bottom of walls. It will only affect the ground floor of a property due to the nature of how it is caused. It can best be identified by stains on the plasterwork, located approximately up to one metre above the ground.

Both rising damp and penetrating damp need to be fixed professionally as soon as possible - typically by a builder or plumber. Once resolved, you may find that you need to redecorate due to the staining it has caused.

Condensation damp

The third main cause of damp is condensation, which forms when moisture inside your home soaks into the internal walls. In a house that is poorly ventilated, humidity levels can build up quickly - causing condensation to form on walls and ceilings.

If allowed to continue over time, this condensation can soak through the paint layers and saturate the plaster underneath, leading to significant problems if not resolved quickly.

Black mould in the corner of the room

If I heat my home more, will this help?

The answer to this question is yes, it can help - however, it most definitely is more of a short-term solution rather than a long-term, permanent fix. Although heating can temporarily reduce dampness in your home, you’ll always need to address the underlying cause of the damp to prevent it from getting worse.

Nonetheless, using heating to keep a property warm is still essential and highly recommended, as it can help to slow down any spreading of damp. Whilst heating your home isn’t cheap at the moment, it can actually help to save you money in the long run by ensuring that your home remains structurally sound.

Condensation damp is caused by water from the air inside your home soaking into cold walls, so by warming these walls up and maintaining heat in the property, you will reduce the amount of condensation that is able to form. 

Heating can also contribute to drying out damp surfaces once the moisture source has been removed, however, it is only a good solution if you identify the cause and stop the damp from occurring in the first place.

However, there is a downside to using heating to reduce damp. Unless you can dry out an area completely, heat can also speed up the growth of mould, so it could become a double edged-sword.

You’ll also need to make sure that, once you’ve managed to dry up any damp patches or puddles, you can let the water vapour escape through good ventilation. If not, you’ll find all that vapour will settle again on your walls and windows the next time the temperature drops.

How can I prevent damp from affecting my home?

Rising and penetrating damp are both caused by physical issues with your house itself, and therefore are best being resolved by professionals - such as a plumber or builder. They will fix the source of the moisture, meaning that the damp will reduce over time and gradually return to its original state.

However, damp caused by condensation can be prevented by you, by making improvements to your home ventilation. Firstly, make sure that you’ve covered the basics - including having extractor fans installed in all bathrooms and the kitchen to allow moisture to escape.

Bathrooms and kitchens contribute to some of the moisture in your home but drying clothes indoors, leaving towels on radiators, and even breathing can also add to the airborne moisture.

By installing a whole-house ventilation system, such as a Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation unit (MVHR), this will greatly reduce moisture levels whilst keeping your home warm at the same time. They work by displacing the moist air from within your home and replacing it with fresh, heated air from outside. As a result, this will greatly reduce condensation, damp and mould.


Worried about damp caused by condensation? Get in touch with our team of professional industry experts today to find out how we can help!

During winter, most people will start to see condensation build up on their windows when they wake up in the morning. Understanding condensation is really important in order to prevent damp and mould from taking over your home, so we've put together a handy list of our most-asked questions:

Why am I suddenly getting condensation every morning?

Many of us often wake up to condensation on our windows in the morning, especially in the colder winter months. Overnight, the condensation will build up and can create small pools of water on your window sill and window panes.

The reason for this is because cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warmer air. Moisture settles on the coldest parts of the room, which is typically the windows. As the temperature drops overnight, the internal surface will become colder, which means the moisture will be drawn there - forming condensation.

Most of us (understandably) will turn the heating down or off overnight to save money on energy bills. This, combined with the fact that temperatures typically drop overnight, is the reason that you’ll likely notice condensation first thing in the morning.

Condensation can also be significantly worse in the bedroom as opposed to other areas of the house - but each person will expel an average of 40g of water vapour during the night too, which greatly adds to moisture levels in the air. 

Is condensation harmful?

Condensation itself is not harmful to you, as it is just water. However, it can lead to problems that may affect you in the future if you’re not careful.

On non-porous surfaces such as tiles or windows, condensation will just remain visible and can be wiped away with a cloth. However, if it sits on porous surfaces such as wood and plaster, the moisture will be absorbed into the material, which can create a damp problem over time.

These damp patches create ideal environments for mould to grow and thrive, which can then lead to health problems. If toxic black mould is allowed to develop, it can affect the airways - causing breathing difficulties and worsening other health problems such as asthma.

If black mould appears in your home, it’s important to get rid of it as soon as possible to prevent it from spreading even further. We’d recommend hiring a professional to do this, as inhaling the spores can be dangerous.

condensation

Should I wipe condensation from my windows?

The simple answer to this question is yes - if you notice condensation on your windows, tiles or window sills, then it’s advisable to wipe it off as soon as you notice it to prevent damp and mould patches. 

If you have wooden window sills and frames, it’s definitely recommended, as the condensation could lead to permanent damage if left alone. To do this, we’d advise using an absorbent, reusable microfibre cloth to soak up the water and reduce smears in the process (as no one wants extra cleaning to do!).

If it’s a warmer, sunny day, and your house doesn’t have wooden window frames or sills, then it’s not always necessary to wipe off the condensation. The heat from the sun will likely encourage the wet patches to evaporate by themselves. 

It's always best to open a window if it’s not too chilly to prevent the moisture being trapped inside your home. Many more modern houses now have small vents installed within the windows, which can help to expel moisture from the house without letting in too much of the cold air in the process. However, this will make your home colder and the small trickle vents only have a minor impact.

Whilst wiping the condensation will help in the short term, preventative measures are always the best way to combat excess moisture for good.

Does keeping my heating on stop condensation?

By keeping your home warm during winter, you can reduce condensation and damp. The best way to do this is by programming your thermostat - according to British Gas, the ideal home temperature is between 18 and 21°C. Typically, bedrooms should be on the cooler end at 18°C, with living areas slightly warmer at 20-21°C, depending on your personal preferences.

By ensuring an adequate amount of heating within your home, you can  prevent internal surface temperatures dropping too significantly, which will reduce the chances of condensation forming. Bear in mind that if you have poor insulation or single-glazed windows, it’s worth considering upgrading these - as it will be a major contributor to the property’s heat loss.

Does opening my windows help to prevent condensation?

Opening windows can significantly contribute to reducing moisture levels within the home and increasing ventilation, as it will allow fresh air to enter the property and humid, moisture laden air to escape. 

Breathing is one of the main causes of condensation, so if you’re using a room frequently, it’s worth cracking open a window. However, in colder winter months, this can be tricky - as homeowners are understandably reluctant to open windows when they’re spending so much money on heating bills.

Always make sure to use extractor fans when in the kitchen or bathroom to allow moisture to escape this way, and consider opening windows when you’re having a bath or shower - with the warmer air being produced by the hot water, it shouldn’t make the room unbearably cold.

If you’re reluctant to open windows and let the heat out, then read on to learn more about an effective, alternative fix!

window with water drops closeup

How else can I stop condensation in winter?

As we’ve said, the best way to combat condensation, damp and mould is by increasing the ventilation within your home to allow the moist, humid air to escape, and let fresh air from outside enter the property. But how can you have good ventilation without making your house cold?

A Mechanical Heat Ventilation Recovery (MVHR) unit is the perfect solution.

MVHR is a relatively simple system, allowing fresh air to circulate in and stale air to circulate out. This process not only maintains air quality but also promotes energy efficiency and sustainability too. It operates by recovering the heat from extracted air and using it to heat the fresh air that is circulated into your home.

The MVHR system extracts stale, moist air from the interior spaces of a building, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and utility rooms, and replaces it with clean, fresh air from the outside through a duct network that runs through the entire building.

Find out more how these fantastic, innovative systems work in our blog.


Interested in investing in MVHR to improve your home and reduce energy bills? Get in touch with our expert team today for a free, no obligation consultation.

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