What Causes Damp, Mould and Condensation

Damp and mould in window sill

Finding damp and mould in your home is unpleasant and can pose health risks, particularly to those with respiratory conditions.

The cold wet climate in the UK is a main contributor to damp and mould issues with older homes more likely to have damp problems. New homes can also be affected and various factors can cause an increase in moisture levels leading to damp spots on walls or ceilings, visible mould, or condensation on windows. Other underlying issues such as poor ventilation, inadequate insulation, or water ingress could also be contributing factors.

Even though damp and mould aren’t the same thing, they are directly linked. Approximately 25% of the population has a genetic susceptibility to mould, which means exposure can cause health complications.

What are the main contributing factors that increase the risk of damp, mould and condensation?

  • Building defects such as deteriorated brickwork, roof tiles, flashing or mortar
  • General building disrepair, such as guttering and downspouts
  • Lifestyle habits, such as drying clothes without providing ventilation
  • Cooking without adequate ventilation
  • Faulty extraction units
  • Subsidence, cracks and moisture ingress
  • Leaks from roofs and pipes
  • Faulty or inadequate heating systems

The most common causes of damp include blocked gutters, failed rendering, and faulty roofing. Therefore, before addressing any damp issue, it is crucial to identify and resolve the underlying problem.

Why have an independent damp survey?

An independent damp survey, undertaken by a qualified surveyor, ensures that you receive impartial advice with no vested interest in selling remedial work. This is particularly important as some unqualified damp-proofing company surveyors may give bad advice, which could cost you more money in the long run.

A damp survey undertaken by a qualified professional will provide a comprehensive property inspection complete with a detailed report, to identify any possible building deterioration or structural issues that could cause water ingress into the structure. The surveyor will also investigate damp areas on the interior of the property, this aims to determine the extent and spread of the moisture and the report will specify the appropriate recommendation needed to reduce or reverse the problem.

Our reports never recommend inserting chemicals into a wall to treat so-called ‘rising damp’ which only masks the problems. Properties built after 1875 have a physical Damp Proof Course (DPC). A DPC is an impervious layer built into the structure to prevent moisture from rising via a capillary action. Older buildings used a range of materials for a DPC, including slate, bitumen, jute and hessian.

builders laying a damp proof membrane uk

When is the best time to have a damp survey?

It is advisable to schedule a damp survey if you experiencing problems such as unusually cold rooms, mould growth and excessive condensation. When purchasing a new property, be it a home or a business premises, is also a good time to have a damp survey undertaken as this will identify the full extent of hidden damp-related problems and knowing the cost of any repairs needed provides an opportunity to negotiate the property price.

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