Dampness & Condensation

What is Dampness?

Dampness is the term used to refer to the presence of unwanted moisture, water and condensation present in a property. Damp problems can occur easily and without warning, and can be severely harmful to a building’s structure and, if left untreated, to your health. Damp can be detected through a musty smell, or the appearance of mould, damage to decorations, wet rot or dry rot in skirting boards, roof or floor timbers. There are four types of damp and each require differing types of treatment to rectify. Therefore an accurate diagnosis of the type of damp is essential before trying to resolve the issue.

  • Condensation – Condensation is arguably the most common form of dampness and can eventually lead to the growth of mould. It forms on internal surfaces when the temperature drops sufficiently below the temperature of moist air inside the property. You should watch out for it because if left to develop, condensation can lead to an unsightly, musty property. More importantly, it can also aggravate or trigger health problems such as asthma and wider complaints. Mould spores are always and only black. Therefore if you see black mould, it most probably is condensation dampness.

  • Penetrating Damp – This is caused by issues with the building or plumbing where a problem has allowed water to enter the property. It could be the result of defective pointing, cracks in the masonry, damaged water management systems, broken gutters, defective plumbing, broken downpipe or possibly the result of increased ground levels around the walls of your property due to the possible installation of a flower bed. Mould spores can be various colours, but never black. Therefore if you see black mould, it is probably not penetrating damp.

  • Plumbing Defects – This differs from other forms of damp that affect properties as it occurs inside walls, where it is almost impossible to see what is going on. For this reason, treating it is especially hard, and you could have this problem and not be aware of it.

  • Rising Damp – This is when a damp proof course has been damaged or breached, allowing moisture from the ground to rise up a wall. This very rarely exceeds above 600mm high and always leaves a tide mark on the wall. The mould spores can be various colours, but never black. Therefore if you see black mould, it is most probably not rising damp.

If you do detect damp in your property, there are a few simple checks you can do to identify which type of damp it is before you report a repair. If the mould spores are black, the likelihood is it is condensation dampness, if the mould spores are varying colours then it is probably not condensation dampness.