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Dampness in Homes

Dampness can appear in a number of homes and can be caused by faults in the structure, not enough heating, not enough insulation, not enough ventilation or the way the house is used. Dampness can lead to mould growth which can make breathing problems worse.

There are three types of dampness that can appear in your home:

  • Condensation
  • Rising dampness
  • Penetrating dampness

It is possible to get more than one type of dampness in your property. Each needs to be treated in a different way, so it is important to know what type of damp is affecting your home.

Helping to avoid condensation

Condensation is the most common form of unwanted dampness in buildings and occurs when warm moist air comes into contact with a cold surface.

Condensation tips

Keeping your home warm, dry and reducing condensation at this time of year can be challenging, particularly when people cut back on heating and appliances that can cause energy costs to rise.

Condensation is the most common form of dampness in buildings and occurs when warm moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces such as walls and ceilings. Moisture builds during everyday living including when you cook, dry clothes and shower. When condensation appears wipe it dry dry to avoid a build-up of black mould growing on walls, curtains and woodwork. It's important you take steps to limit the moisture in the air.

There are four main causes of condensation:

  • lack of heat
  • lack of insulation
  • lack of ventilation
  • moisture production

There are a number of ways you can reduce condensation. Try implementing this advice at home:

  • Keep ventilation vents free from obstruction
  • Where possible, use your heating system efficiently and effectively. It's more effective to have heating on a low setting for longer to maintain a minimum temperature rather than heating to high temperatures at short bursts
  • Open windows a little when cooking and showering
  • Make sure tumble dryers are vented outside

Take a look at Energy Savings Trust's useful video on minimising condensation at home:

Winter health

Damp and mould can affect you and your family's health by causing respiratory infections, allergies or asthma and can also affect the immune system. Some people are affected more than others including children and babies, older people, people with skin problems and respiratory issues.

Keeping in heat

  • Close the curtains early evening and tuck them behind any radiators (except gas wall heaters).
  • Move furniture that blocks heat from radiators.
  • Cover up draughty gaps around letterboxes, keyholes and doors.
  • Open internal doors of rooms which get most of the winter sun to allow warm air to travel through and heat your home naturally.

Our cost of living page lists help available and practical actions to help reduce your energy costs.