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Tackling condensation and damp

There are many ways unwanted moisture can get into your home and cause damp. Find out how to manage condensation and damp to prevent mould, including what to do if you rent your home.

Feeling comfortable at home is important to us all. But poor ventilation and too much moisture can cause a range of problems like mould, condensation and damp. These can become serious and could even damage the fabric of the building if left unchecked.

If mould starts to grow in damp conditions, this can even affect the health of the people living there.

What causes condensation and damp?

Moisture can build up due to a range of causes around the house. Some moisture  is created by the people who live there – from breathing, cooking, showering and drying clothes. Heating and appliances can also give off steam.

Some comes from faulty plumbing, or broken seals in baths and showers.

You might even have water getting in through the roof, blocked gutters or poorly fitting doors and windows.

If your house is letting in rainwater or there are signs of rising damp, it’s important to fix the problem quickly before it gets any worse. We recommend using a professional who can advise you on the best solution for your situation.

Why is it important to manage condensation in your home?

If there’s too much moisture in the air in your home, it can lead to condensation.

Condensation forms when moisture comes into contact with a cold surface, such as a window. This itself isn’t a problem, but you need to watch out for any places where water builds up so much that it starts to cause damage.

You might not notice water building up until the wallpaper in a room starts to peel off, or black mould starts to grow on your walls. This is more likely to happen in colder areas of your home, such as exposed corners, around gaps in the insulation, or in poorly ventilated spaces.

If you find mould, it’s important to clean it immediately to minimise any health risk to people living in the property. You’ll then need to address the underlying problem to prevent the mould from coming back.

How can you avoid condensation or damp in your home?

There are a few ways to minimise or avoid problems caused by too much condensation or damp.

The easiest thing to do is to try and reduce the amount of moisture you add to your home, for example by keeping lids on pans when you’re cooking, and drying clothes outside if you can.

Increase the ventilation too. Always use extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom, avoid blocking wall vents and keep window vents open if you have them.

If you don’t have an extractor or window vents, opening the window temporarily to let steam escape is another option.

Try to maintain an even temperature in your home and fix any cold spots by improving the insulation. Rooms where the heating is turned off over the winter months are more prone to damp problems – in this case, you may need to ventilate more or turn the heating on from time to time.

Can I ask my landlord to fix the damp in my rented home?

Private rented accommodation is often associated with damp problems. If you’re a tenant facing such an issue, your landlord should take steps to tackle it.

If they won’t, you should contact your local authority, as they have powers to force action. Housing charity Shelter has a range of resources to help you make your case.