Keeping Your New Home Damp Free

Damp is one of the most common problems that affects UK homes and if it is not taken care of, it can cause major damage to your property. Our guide looks at the main causes of damp – and, more importantly, how to combat them.

What is damp?

Damp is the presence of moisture in your property where it shouldn’t be. The problem with damp is that it can lead to structural issues within a property, black mould, wood rot and even health issues. There are three types of damp to be aware of; rising damp, condensation and penetrating damp.

rising damp

Rising damp

Rising damp is caused by groundwater finding its way into a home through stone or brickwork and then working its way from the ground up. It is more common in older properties that were built without a damp-proof course (DPC) or with an old DPC that has begun to wear and fail.

Signs of rising damp include damp patches on the wall, crumbling or bubbling paint or woodwork and stained tide marks where the damp has dried and left behind salts.

Penetrating damp

penetrating damp

Penetrating damp, sometimes called lateral damp or water ingress, is when water works its way into a property through the walls as well as the roof and floors. Growing circles and blotches on walls and ceilings. Wet and crumbly plaster are typical signs of penetrating damp. Potential weak spots on the property exterior such as poor pointing or damaged masonry can also be an indication of damp, causing possible problems further down the line.

Unlike rising damp, penetrating damp can occur on your walls and ceiling and is often a sign of damage or a defect to an external part of your property that is allowing water to come in.



Condensation is one of the most common forms of damp in the home and its harmful consequences are often overlooked. Condensation happens when moisture in the air comes into contact with a cold surface, like a wall or window, leaving behind water. It can be caused by drying wet clothes indoors, taking a shower, having a bath or boiling the kettle, to name a few.

Condensation is particularly prevalent in colder months, especially in older, less insulated properties.

Stopping rising damp

The most effective way to manage rising damp is through a course of damp-proofing. If your current DPC is damaged or non-existent, then a new one will need to be installed. You should consult a professional to help you choose a DPC that will work for your property and install it if necessary.

Fixing penetrating damp

The key to removing penetrating damp is to eliminate the source. To identify the source, check the following parts of your property:

  • Sealant on exterior doors and windows; any gaps will need fixing or replacing
  • Look for missing mortar or areas between bricks that may need repointing
  • Broken or blocked pipes or gutters might be allowing water to enter the property

Once any problems are fixed, water should be prevented from entering the property and the penetrating damp should stop.

Managing condensation

Bathrooms and kitchens are often the rooms most affected by condensation so proper ventilation is essential. Make sure you have a working extractor fan in your kitchen and bathrooms and ensure all rooms including bedrooms have functioning vents.

If you are able, open windows in rooms where condensation is more likely, such as the bathroom or kitchen, especially when cooking, showering or bathing.

If you do spot condensation occurring on windows, dry them off to prevent the moisture from going back into the air and causing further damp problems.

Double glazed windows are less likely to suffer from condensation than single glazed windows; they also make your property more insulated and energy-efficient, so consider installing them where possible. Insulation is the best solution going forward in the long term too, especially for older properties. By keeping your property at a consistently warm temperature, condensation doesn’t get the chance to form.

Drying damp clothing on a clothes-horse in a spare room can cause excess condensation and add to your damp problem. Try to dry clothes outside whenever possible, or make sure to hang them in a well-ventilated room.

Finally, consider getting a dehumidifier to remove any moisture from the air. This can be either an electric dehumidifier if you have the funds, or disposable ones with dehumidifying crystals, which can be placed in different rooms, thrown away once they have been fully used and found in most supermarkets.

Watch out for black mould

Black mould is caused by an excessive build-up of moisture; it is difficult to remove and can have serious health implications. This type of mould is not just unsightly, but it can attract mites and, in extreme cases, could cause respiratory problems. Mould and mildew eradication kits can be purchased online but any cleaning products that contain bleach can also tackle the problem.

Landlords and tenants

For tenants living in a property that has damp problems, you should report the issues to your landlord or letting agent to give them a chance to resolve it. Take pictures of any evidence of damp as part of your report.

Damp and mould growth are considered a hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System in England and Wales, so it is the landlord’s duty to ensure the property is at a standard that prevents damp where possible.

In Scotland, damp falls under the Tolerable Standard, which states that properties with rising or penetrating damp that aren’t well insulated are unsuitable to live in.

Read our guide on Fitness for Human Habitation if you believe the property you rent is being affected by damp or mould.

For landlords, preventing damp will not only ensure you are following the law but ensure that your tenants are comfortable and likely to stay for longer. If you improve the insulation of your property, you may be able to lower your EPC as well.

Organise a survey

If your property is continually suffering from the effects of damp and you are unsure what the cause is, then consider hiring a surveyor to thoroughly check your property for defects. You can find out more in our guide to getting a property survey.

Use a Propertymark Agent

Whether you’re selling, buying or renting a property out, Propertymark agents can advise you on what to do about issues such as damp.

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