Damp is a common problem with homes in the UK, but not many people understand what causes it, or what it can lead to if left untreated. The answer to the latter is simple: it can lead to mould, which can spread fast and become dangerous to your health. Therefore it’s important to know the ways you can prevent damp getting serious.
Find the root cause
Damp always originates from somewhere, and usually it’s an isolated problem that you can spot and deal with. If something is actually leaking water and it’s getting inside your walls, this needs to be resolved immediately. If water is generally getting into the walls naturally, from the ground for example, damp-proofing may be a more advanced process.
If your damp problem isn’t coming from inside the walls, but actually results from something internal, it’s probably a condensation issue. If a surface gets colder than the air around it, condensation can form. Warm, damp air meeting a cold wall or window is a prime example of when water vapour usually returns to liquid form. If the air flow in the area is restricted, it’s less likely to clear.
These are the ideal conditions for mould to build up. In this case, you have a few different things you can try before it gets worse.
Move furniture away from the wall
A common place for damp to turn into mould is behind furnishings and other items which are pressed against the wall, leaving a narrow and partially insulated gap. As we said, this creates the ideal habitat for mould to grow. Increasing the ventilation by moving things away from the wall helps a lot.
Check your bathroom extractor fan
In many properties, the bathroom can be the cause of a lot of damp issues. Hot water from running a bath or shower creates steam, which then means a lot of water vapour is hanging in the air. If you have no windows or ventilation in your bathroom, which is common in flats especially, the damp has no escape. A powerful extractor fan can go a huge way to resolving this.
Don’t dry clothes indoors
Another way to get a lot of moisture into your air is by hanging your clothes on an indoor airer after you’ve washed them. Where do you think all that water is going? You will probably find that damp clothes don’t get any drier, even if you leave them for a full day, once the air is already quite saturated. Drying clothes outside or using a tumble dryer where possible cuts down on excess moisture in the air.
Use a dehumidifier
In other rooms that need extra ventilation, try using an electric dehumidifier. This works by taking in air from the surrounding room, filtering out the water vapour and blowing the dry air back out. With a medium to large sized tank, you can usually clear most of the moisture out of a room by running the dehumidifier overnight, but this depends on the model. It can be a major help if you’re running out of options.
Get some old-fashioned fresh air
A great thing to try if you can is simply opening your windows and getting more fresh air circulating around. This isn’t possible or practical for every room in every property, but if you can do it this should certainly help.
Remove any black mould quickly
Once mould has started to grow in damp conditions, it will spread at an exponential rate. It can take a month for damp patches to become mouldy, but just a few days for that mould to cover a much bigger area. You need to clean it away and try to prevent it returning as soon as you spot it.