Causes of damp in homes

Explaining the main causes and how you can identify them

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

A high proportion of damp problems in buildings are caused for example, by 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 problem.

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. Is water escaping or are the water management systems faulty leading to the damp issue inside?
  • Look for damage, cracks, faulty joints or poor/corroded seals. Is there an obvious fault leading to the water ingress?
  • 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 will let damp penetrate into a room affecting the internal plaster round about the window.
  • If the damp is localised around a chimney breast, check the flashing and tiles.

Causes of damp – rising dampness

If you are on the ground floor and the damp seems to localised to the bottom of your walls, then it could be that the cause of damp is the result of your damp proof course being bridged or potentially faulty resulting in rising damp.

If it is the case whereby the damp proof course has been bridged, consider if there are 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 might be the issue 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 fully qualified damp professional to fully evaluate the extent of the damp course failure. 

More information about rising damp

Causes of damp - condensation

It is not always the case whereby the cause of damp originates from the outside.  In the last 20 years, the most common causes of damp within homes is actually 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 consistent heating and ventilation. By improving the air ventilation within a property you will generally have a beneficial impact on reducing the amount of condensation and black mould issues that you are experiencing within a property.  To find out more, visit our how to prevent condensation web page.  

More information about condensation

Damp simply explained

learn more about the different types of damp that might be affecting your home and what you can do about it.

Damp simply explained

Damp treatment

Have a damp issue and simply want to get it rectified? Visit our damp treatment page to find out more.

Damp treatment

Need a little more help - speak to a damp expert

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 damp 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 specialist, you can contact Wise Property Care on 0800 65 22 678 or click to speak to your local branch.  Alternatively, for help and advice, scroll down to contact us via our online contact form.

More about our damp surveys

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