What Causes Damp?

The most common cause of damp is when there’s a buildup of unwanted water/moisture in the ceilings, walls, or floors. Although it’s not pleasing to the eyes, damping is a common issue; especially in older buildings. 

Many reasons can cause damping, such as –

  • Porous bricks
  • Leaking pipes
  • Moisture coming from the surrounding soil
  • Missing or damaged roof tiles

Where to Check for Damp When Viewing a Property?

The first-time property buyers should watch out for the most common areas that tend to house maximum dampness. 

Those areas are –

  1. Basement – This is THE most easily detectable area in the entire house. The smell alone should tell you where the damp is coming from
  2. Bathroom
  3. Walls and ceilings
  4. Floorboards – see if the floorboards feel spongy
  5. Cupboards with water heaters
  6. The overall smell of the house. Does it smell moldy or moist?

Spotting Different Types of Damp

There are 4 main types of damp in almost all houses. We discuss each of those in detail so you know what to look out for the next time you go house-hunting.

Rising Damp

This type of damp is caused by a lack of damp-proofing or the failure of an existing one. If the DPC is unable to stop the water, it will easily travel through the bricks. The water will keep going until it hits the inner surface of the house. 

Lateral Damp

Lateral damp is quite similar to rising damp. Bt, there are some differences. Lateral damp generally comes from sources/origins outside the house/property. It’s highly unsightly and the repairs can cost a fortune. Always watch out for lateral damp before investing in the house. Spot any damp/dark patches on the ceilings and walls as well as floors.

Sometimes woodworks can form mold and mildew. The plaster can also begin to crack due to damp leaving visible spores.

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp generally forms outside of the property. Common causes include heavy rain which often causes large damp patches to form on the outside wall. Walls that are more exposed to rain will often carry higher damp damage. 

Roof space and ceilings are other parts that can suffer from the penetrating damp. If you happen to notice major damage to the exteriors, get the property evaluated. See how far the damp has gone and if it has caused rising damp to occur.


The most common sign of condensation is the formation of black mold in areas like window frames, walls, ceilings, and stairways. It’s not uncommon for sellers to wipe the marks clean so as to make them invisible to potential buyers. Therefore, it’s good to have a professional inspect the property and see if any hidden damage exists due to condensation.

Recognizing The Common Signs of Damp

As you can see, it’s quite easy to spot the signs of dampness. Here are some things first-time homebuyers should watch out for –

  • Visible mold and mildew in walls, ceilings, and floors
  • Musty/damp odor
  • Floor panels and walls that feel damp and cold to the touch
  • Buildup across windows and window-frames
  • Dark patches on plaster/walls
  • Peeling, cracking, and lifting wallpaper
  • Rotting boards
  • Floorboards that are lifting including carpet, tiles, and vinyl
  • Salt-like white residue on the walls

Acting on Damp

Damp is not something that you can’t control or fix. As a first-time homebuyer, you can take a few steps to handle the damp situation. The faster you act, the more quickly you can minimize the damage for the future as well.

Here are the steps you should take to tackle damp –

Recognize the causes of damp

This should always be the first course of action. See where the damp is coming from. Your best bet is to hire a damp survey expert who will inspect the house thoroughly. He will then come up with a damp report. Professional experts will tell you areas where water is getting access so you can take corrective measures.  Visit – 

https://advanceddamp.co.uk/penetrative-damp/waterproof-exterior-walls/ for more information on penetrating damp.

Stop the water access

Often a lack of ventilation is the main problem that allows water access to enter the building/property. If that’s the case, you would need to tackle this problem. Until you fix this, the problem won’t go away. To that end, you would need to improve ventilation, replace the existing damp-proof course, and fix any damaged tiles/floorboards.

Remove traces of damp 

To remove the traces of damp and associated conditions, you might need to remove any wet wallpaper, dry out the walls, and clean away black mold formation. It’s good to go for damp-proof paints to avoid mildew and mold formation as well as control the water access to the walls.

Consider installing a dehumidifier

In the short term, installing a dehumidifier is a good idea. It will control the level of moisture inside the house. It’s also good for health as it stops the formation of black mold and mildew. 

In Conclusion 

Dampness may be a common problem in most properties, but it’s certainly something you can work towards controlling. Taking early preventive measures and having the experts inspect the property is always a smart choice for your property in the long-run.

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