Home > Housing > Damp and Mould > Damp and Condensation

Damp and Condensation


One of the most frequent problems encountered in the home is damp. There are three major causes of damp, which each require a different remedy. Whatever the cause, damp can be bad for health and therefore it is important that you get advice if you think you are affected.

Rising Damp

Rising damp normally occurs in properties which either have not been built with a damp proof course (DPC) or where the DPC has failed. The most obvious signs of rising are a brown "tidemark" on the wall and the plaster below feels cold or damp to the touch. Rising damp can affect any wall in contact with the ground and therefore can affect internal as well as external walls. It does not normally rise above about 1 metre (3ft) in height. If you suspect that your home is affected by rising damp it is advisable that you have the property surveyed by a contractor who is either registered with the Qualitymark scheme or a member of the British Timber Treatment and Damp Proofing Association.

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp can affect almost any location in the home and is usually the result of a building or plumbing fault allowing water to enter into the property. A brown stain normally occurs on the affected surface, which grows in size as more water penetrates If the fault is not rectified plaster will start to perish and in the case of ceilings could even collapse. If you think you have a problem with penetrating damp you should have the fault repaired as soon as possible. If you require a contractor it is advisable to contact someone registered with a recognised trade body or contact Qualitymark.


Condensation differs from rising and penetrating damp in that it is caused by excessive moisture that cannot escape from a building rather than damp coming in. The first sign that condensation is a problem is when black pinpricks of mould appear on walls, ceilings and even furnishings. There is usually a musty smell present and clothes and shoes in cupboards can become covered in a white or green furry mould. Factors, which contribute to condensation, include not opening windows, drying washing inside or using unvented tumble dryers and inadequate heating, but the biggest cause of condensation is the use of portable calor gas heaters. If the cause of the condensation is not rectified the pin pricks of mould will grow and can eventually cover whole walls and ceilings and ruin clothes and decorations.

Dealing with condensation

There is always some moisture in the air, even if you cannot see it. If the air gets colder it cannot hold all the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. This is condensation. Condensation occurs mainly during cold weather and it appears in places where there is little movement of air. In the corners of windows, in or behind wardrobes and cupboards and it often forms on north-facing walls.

condensation on a window 

To avoid condensation you should try to produce less moisture within the home by putting clothes to dry in a well ventilated area, covering cooking pans and not using paraffin or bottled gas heaters. You can also ventilate your home better without making draughts to reduce condensation. You should keep a small window ajar or a trickle vent open to allow moisture to escape. Cupboards and wardrobes should be allowed to ventilate. Providing good insulation and keeping low background heating on all day should adequately heat the home.

Any mould spores should be removed by wiping down the area with a fungicidal wash bought at any good hardware store. Fungicidal paint can be used to redecorate affected areas.

Further Information


Contact Private Sector Housing

Tel: 01304 872397

Email: privatesectorhousing@dover.gov.uk