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Causes of damp in homes

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With the amount of rainfall we receive within Scotland, it is of no surprise we might notice some damp issues on occasion.  But, what are the main causes of damp in our homes?

A high proportion of damp problems in buildings are caused by the condensation, rain penetration, rising damp and pipe leakage.  Our guide below aims to help you identify the causes of damp affecting your property and to help your solve your damp proofing issue.

Causes of damp - Leaks

Leaks can often be a major cause of damp within a property leading to issues such as penetrating damp and wet rot.  Generally, the result of a leak will be localised to one area of a wall.  If you notice localised damp patches, check the following:

  • Examine downpipes and gutters within the affected area.
  • Look for damage, cracks, faulty joints or seals.
  • Ensure that your drains and downpipes are not blocked.  Rain water can very easily be backed up forcing itself out of a pipe joint within the affected area. 
  • If the damp is below a flat roof, or a roof channel, check that the felt is sound.
  • If the damp is below a window, check the window frame and window sill.  Badly fitted windows can also let damp penetrate into a room
  • If the damp is localised around a chimney breast, check the flashing and tiles

Causes of damp – rising damp

Causes of damp - rising dampIf you are on the ground floor and the damp seems to be at the bottom of walls, it could be that the cause of damp is the result of your damp proof course being bridged resulting in rising damp.  This could be because of an increase of ground levels around the affected damp area or that your damp proof course has failed.

If it is the case whereby the damp proof course has been bridged, consider if there is any external features installed within the affected area such as a flower bed or new patio. Could there be an excess amount of soil against the wall from some recent gardening that has bridged the damp proof course?  By simply lowering the ground level or removing any of these features and leaving the area to dry out, you could solve your rising damp issue.

If it is the case the damp proof course has not been bridged, then it could be the possibility that your damp proof course has failed meaning that you will need to consider repairing it.  In this instance, we would always recommend you contact a damp professional to organise a property survey to fully evaluate the extent of the damp issue.

Causes of damp - condensation

Cause of damp - condensationIt is not always the case whereby the cause of damp originates from the outside.  One of the most common causes of damp within homes is due to condensation.

Condensation occurs when large quantities of water vapour from general everyday living becomes trapped within a property. When the warm moist damp air comes into contact with cooler air, or a surface which is at a lower temperature, the result is condensation, this can prove ideal for the germination of the commonly associated black mould.

The key to solving condensation however is ventilation.  By simply improving the air ventilation within a property, you will generally have an impact on the amount of condensation and mould issues that you are having within a property.  To find out more, visit our how to prevent condensation web page.  

Related damp information

For more information regarding damp and damp proofing, visit the following web pages:

Prevent damp problems - BBC interview

Prevent damp problems

The BBC interview Les Meikle, Scotland’s leading damp expert, as to the best ways to prevent damp in a property.

Prevent damp problems



Damp proofing home page

Damp proofing

Identify the particular damp proofing solutions you need to ensure the correct damp proofing treatment is applied within your property.

Damp proofing



Damp proofing treatment

Damp proofing treatment

Damp proofing treatment and solutions to eradicate a damp issue.

Damp proofing treatment

Speak to a damp expert

Contact us

If you are worried about a damp problem within your home and the cause of the damp is not obvious, it is always recommended to speak to a specialist.

A thorough property survey of the problem by an experienced and qualified surveyor associated with the ‘Property Care Association (PCA)’ will generally get to the source of the issue.

To organise a property survey from a PCA approved contractor, you can contact Wise Property Care on 0800 65 22 678 or click to speak to your local branch.  Alternatively, for help and advice, contact us via our online contact form.