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Damp Causes & How to Stop it

Damp Causes

What is Damp?

When it comes to the structure of your property, damp is the presence of excessive or unwanted moisture in the fabric of a building. That can be in a number of areas such as render, brickwork, masonry, timbers, walls, ceilings or floors. The list goes on.

Just as there are a number of locations damp can affect your property, there are also a number of damp causes as you will see later. We will look at some of the main damp causes.

Damp problems can occur gradually over time or suddenly, depending on the main damp causes for that particular property, of which there can be many. As water damage management experts, we are very experienced in dealing with damp problems in homes and businesses.

Top Tip – notice above that we used the word ‘excessive moisture’, why? – Because all materials in your home will have moisture within them to some degree. This will be a combination of natural levels, the environment / placement it is in and other factors contributing to this. We use specialist damp meters and moisture meters, plus other equipment to measure levels of moisture across your property as part of our moisture mapping services. This allows us to see the full picture across your home or business which will, in turn, help to highlight specific damp causes in your property.

Causes of Damp?

As we suggested earlier, damp can be caused by a number of things. Here are some of the main potential causes of damp in your property:

  1. Condensation Problems – it might surprise you that this is on the list first. People tend to think of other things on this list first but condensation problems in homes are a very common cause of damp. As condensation builds up over time, it can absorb into the fabric of the building and cause damp issues. We can help you identify if condensation is a problem and, most importantly, why! Condensation problems can soon lead to mould problems too.
  2. A Water Leak – as you might expect, water leaks can cause damp problems. In fact, a visible damp patch is number 1 on our list of signs of a water leak. Water leaks can happen slowly over time or all of a sudden and dramatically. Either way, the amount of water from a leak can (especially if it is left) cause other problems in your home. If you have a leak or think you might have, get in touch with us straight away for help. Take a look at our water leak calculator to see how much water even a relatively slow leak can cause – you may be surprised!
  3. Rising Damp – as we mentioned earlier, this is something that people immediately think of when it comes to damp causes (especially with damp on walls). It is certainly a problem, especially in older houses or ones with structural issues but it is not the only cause of damp in homes. We can help identify if you have rising damp and why. This will then lead on to how to solve this (more on this later), but after all, you don’t want to be doing major work to your property to fix damp if it is a simpler reason!
  4. Penetrating Damp – this is another type of damp that people think about immediately when looking at damp causes. Penetrating damp can be caused by a number of factors but, briefly, it is normally external water sources (which can include rain etc) entering into a property through the fabric of a building – hence ‘penetrating’. Like rising damp, it is often more common on older houses or those with structural problems that are contributing to it. We can help identify these for you.
  5. Property Damage – This is a bit of a ‘catch all’ group which can be damp causes. This would include things such as – storm damage, frozen pipes, flooded basement (which in turn can have many causes), humidity problems, broken stop taps, mains water leaks, flooded houses or even accidental damage (and that has many damp causes itself!)

Floor Damage - Damp and Rot
Floor Damage – Damp and Rot

How to Stop Damp?

As we say with many things, and damp causes are no exception, the important thing with damp (firstly) is to understand what is causing it, like the examples we have listed above.

Our damp surveys services will help you understand your damp problem and the causes of it. As you might imagine, how you stop damp from a condensation problem will be very different to how you stop a rising damp problem in your home.

On top of that, there is often not just one solution, things like condensation problems for example, can be caused by a number of factors working together. The more of these that you can solve, the better the chanced you have of getting to the root of your damp causes and stopping them.

Even if damp proofing is needed, there isn’t necessarily a one size fits all solution.

Is Damp Dangerous?

The honest answer to that is it can be, depending on the particular damp causes and the extent of the damage. As we said earlier, damp (especially if left over time) can cause structural damage to walls, ceiling water damage or flooring issues, potentially making them unsafe and possibly breaking / falling. In some instances where this is bad, the services of a structural surveyor may be required to look a this in more detail.

On top of that there are secondary issues such as mould that forms because of damp. that can affect air quality that you are breathing and has potential health risks in your home. Our article called mould or mold looks into this in more detail.

health and safety inspection
Safety Inspection Onsite

How to Treat Damp?

A bit like the section about how to stop damp causes, the treatment of damp will depend on what causes it. However, it is likely that (whatever the cause) the following are options that will be looked at:

  • 5 Stop Risk Assessment for health and safety purposes
  • ‘Strip Out’ / removal of materials damaged beyond repair
  • Fixing the cause (more on this below) preventing more damage
  • Property Drying to remove excessive moisture
  • Anti-microbial treatment to kill or prevent microbes
  • Reinstatement of materials to replace those damaged
  • Making an insurance claim possibly

Clearly the point above ‘fixing the cause’ is a complex issue that will depend on the cause, the extent of the damage, the age and structure of the house, the condition of the house etc. The other consideration is clearly your budget and whether you want to go for a basic fix or a more substantial one. As you might expect, the cost of these will vary greatly. Each situation needs to be looked at on a case by case basis depending on all these factors, not least the damp causes in the first place.

Something that is asked occasionally is whether Moisture Resistant Plasterboard can help with damp problems. In that linked article, we explain what it is and the pros and cons of it.

For more information on this interesting topic, see our article about types of damp.

Water Leak logo clear capitals
Water Leak logo

How can I stop damp in my house?

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In order to stop damp in your house, you need to first focus on the cause before going about treating it. Otherwise, the moisture that causes the damp will likely return and cause further problems. Damp can be caused by a number of things such as a water leak, penetrating damp, rising damp, condensation etc. It could even be a combination of these things together. Plus, each of those can have different causes too. Once you know the cause, a stopping damp is easier.

Is it mould or damp?

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Mould and damp often go hand-in-hand with each other. By that we mean that mould can be caused by damp problems. Mould needs moisture to grow and damp can provide that for the mould. Remember that there are a number of different damp causes so the damp itself may go hand-in-hand with something else, such as a water leak or problems with condensation. In order to understand damp and mould you need to understand the damp causes.