What causes damp and mould | Signs of damp and mould in your home

Damp & mould on wall and ceiling

There are three common types of damp that you can find in your home, these are rising damp, penetrating damp, and condensation damp. Damp in your home creates a perfect breeding ground for the dreaded mould. In this article, you will explore the different types of damp and mould that can invade your home and what causes them. Your questions… What is mould? Is mould dangerous? Can dampness in your home affect your health? What are the signs of damp and mould in your home? What causes dampness in certain parts of your house?… will finally have an answer.

What causes damp?

Condensation is the most common form of damp, it’s caused when moist, or wet, air touches a cold surface. The other two are; penetrating damp, coming from the outside and invading through your walls, and rising damp, when moisture comes from the ground and rises through your floor and into your home.

There are many causes of damp in your home, here is what you should be monitoring to avoid damp occurring in your home-

A surplus of moisture in the air

Unfortunately, this is unavoidable! Excess moisture in your home is caused by your and your family’s everyday hustle and bustle, i.e., showering, cooking and even breathing.

Poorly heated home

Is your home poorly heated? If your home isn’t heated properly, the average temperature of the surfaces in your home remains low. This means it is easier for condensation to for on your cold surfaces. The best way to avoid this is to routinely heat your home, thus increasing the core temperature of your surfaces- reducing the ability for condensation to form.

Home is not ventilated properly

Your home is not properly ventilated! If your home doesn’t have proper ventilation, it is near impossible for moist, warm air to exit your home, this means a perfect environment for the production of damp is present in your home.

No damp proof mebrane OR broken dpc

Does your house have inadequate DPC, or even none at all? DPC is short for ‘damp proof course’. These are made to be resistant to water, they are made from materials like bitumen. A DPC’s purpose is to stop water from travelling up into your walls from the ground. If your house has no DPC, or it is in decline, or even if the DPC is inadequate, meaning your external ground levels are higher than the DPC, or your underfloor insulation has bridged the DPC, you could have a problem with rising damp.

Plumbing issues

Need us say more? If you have even the tiniest leak ever, it will cause damp in your home, and is actually one of the lead causes of damp in your homes.

What causes dampness in a bedroom?

The most common causes of damp found in your bedroom are condensation and penetrating dampness. Again, the condensation is caused by your day to day activities, causing moisture in the air, thus leading to the formation of condensation on any cold surfaces. The formation of condensation in your bedroom is a sign there is not adequate ventilation. Penetrating damp in your bedroom is most likely to be caused by poor maintenance of the structural features in your property. An example of this could be a damaged pipe, causing a leak or a cracked render, allowing the entry of damp and cold into the internal walls of your home.

Damp on internal walls- what are the causes?

Damp on internal walls is caused predominantly by penetrating damp and rising damp. If you have penetrating damp, it is most likely caused, again, by a faulty structural feature in your home. This could be cracked roof tiles, or as we’ve mentioned before, a damaged pipe resulting in a leak between your walls, or a crack in your brickwork or render, allowing damp, cold air to invade your internal walls. However, if you notice damp coming from your floor, it is most likely you have rising damp. This is caused by, again as we’ve mentioned before, inadequate or the failure of your DPC.

What are the health risks of having untreated damp in your home?

There are many health risks that come hand-in-hand with ignoring the damp in your home, and the mould for that matter. Everyone can be affected by damp and mould in your home, however there are certain individuals that are especially sensitive to the effect of damp and mould, and these are:-

  • Pregnant people
  • The elderly
  • Babies and children
  • People with respiratory problems, i.e., asthma
  • People with a compromised immune system, i.e., those receiving chemotherapy.
  • Those with skin conditions, i.e., psoriasis.

Damp and mould in your home will provoke an allergic reaction. This could be expressed as a skin irritation, or as an allergic reaction in your respiratory system, affecting your throat, nose and your eyes. The toxins released by mould in your home could also affect your neurological health too. If you find yourself, or a member of your family, feeling fuzzy, disorientated and headachey, it might be time to have a damp and mould survey performed on your home.

Leaving untreated damp and mould in your home could also leave you and your family at risk for physical injury too! Rising and penetrating damp can affect the quality of the wooden structures in your home, causing them to rot.

What is mould?

Mould is basically just an umbrella term for many different types of fungi. These fungi thrive in moist, warm conditions and are tough little organisms because, although mould cannot grow in dry conditions, it reproduces spores, and these spores can survive in the dry conditions, or become airborne to find a damp, humid spot that would be ideal for growth i.e., the bottom corner of your kitchen with rising damp due to a DPC failure. Different types of moulds produce and release toxins, these are called mycotoxins, giving rise to the ways in which mould can affect your health as previously mentioned.

What causes mould?

Mould is a result of dampness. In short, if you ignore your damp problems, it will inevitably become a breeding ground for mould, there is no way around it. Mould feeds and thrives on damp, organic matter, like the ones found in insulation and wallpaper, or the bonding glue used on carpets, or even just dust and dirt that gathers in your house over time.

If you have even a slight leak in your pipes and it causes damp, mould will eventually grow in that area. The same goes for a cracked render or brickwork, if any dirt or debris enters your home or your cavity wall, moisture will eventually cling to the organic matter, thus providing a perfect little niche for the mould to thrive and reproduce in your home. Flooding is a major factor in mould growth, after experiencing a flood, mould growth in your home is inevitable. It is likely the more toxic breeds of mould will form after a flood in your home too, this is because of the many different types of toxins and dirt polluting the water.

Signs of damp and mould

Apart from the obvious visual proof of mould growing on your walls, there are many other telltale symptoms of damp and mould in your home. If you know exactly what to look for, you’ll have no problem with identifying the problem and eradicating the problem at its source. Have a read through our list of signs and symptoms of mould and damp in your home:-

A musty smell

if you can smell mould or damp, it is definitely present. In our opinion, nothing can mimic the distinctive smell that mould and damp produce, we think you’ll agree with us on that one!

Do your floors, walls and ceilings feel wet or cold?

If the answer is yes, your home could be a victim of penetrating damp from failing cavity wall insulation or maybe debris in your cavity wall, rising damp from (as we’ve mentioned before) inadequate DPC, condensation damp from your daily activities, or even all three!

Have you noticed the grout between your tiles is looking rather dark lately?

Unfortunately it’s more than likely to be mould, the damp environment of your bathroom, especially with poor ventilation allows the tiny little crevices between your tiles to remain damp and moist, becoming an ideal breeding ground for mould.

Discoloured patches on your walls

mould won’t always appear as the stereotypical green or black spots on your walls. Different types of moulds have all kinds of colours and textures. Discolouration, off-white fuzz, and sticky orange dots on your walls means there’s mould there too!

Wallpaper peeling or cracking

It is inevitable that your wallpaper will experience some wear and tear over the years, but if you find your wallpaper is bubbling, cracking, peeling, it most likely is a symptom of penetrating moisture on your walls. This could very well be a sign of mould on your inner walls.

Rotting skirting boards

This is a sign of rising damp. By this point the moisture has invaded your timber-made skirting which has allowed the growth of mould in the wooden structure- this then causes it to rot.

Are your carpets damp and lifting?

This is also a telltale sign of rising damp in your home. As you’ve read previously in this article, mould will feed from organic matter we have in our homes, carpet bonding included, causing the carpet, or any flooring for that matter to rise from where it belongs.

How to get rid of damp and mould?

In this article, you’ve read many causes of damp and mould, now allow us to provide you with some information that may help solve your problem.

Windows & windowills

Wipe down any condensation on your windows and windowsills as soon as you find it, every now and then using a fungicidal spray to help fight off the growth of mould.

Make an effort to ventilate wet rooms and habitale living spaces

Allow proper ventilation in condensation-prone places in your home. Don’t have an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen? Leaving a window open during and after cooking can definitely help manage dampness in your kitchen. Opening the window after having a shower will definitely have a positive impact on your damp bathroom.

Increase core temprature of your home

Raise the core temperature of the structures in your home! If you steadily heat your home (not too much!) the core temperature of all the structures in your home will increase. This means there are less cold surfaces in your home for moist air to cling to and reduces the ability for damp to form and mould to thrive in your home.

There are, however, some cases where the treatment and prevention of damp and mould in your home may become slightly more expensive, with the need of help from a professional.

Damp proof course

You may need to install a new damp-proof course into your house.

Cavity wall insulation extraction

Having a surveyor out to check your cavity wall insulation… if it is failing, this could be the source of your penetrating damp.

Airbricks & vents

Having airbricks fitted into your external wall, this allows proper ventilation for your empty cavity wall.

Mechanical ventilation

Having a mechanical vent that extracts outwards in your bathrooms and kitchen, or even adding background ventilation to your habitable rooms, such as trickle vents.

Positive input ventilation

Installing PIV into your loft- Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) is one of the most effective ways to eradicate and prevent condensation dampness in your home. PIV is installed into your attic, it then gently sucks in the air and passes it through a filter, pushing it smoothly through your home, meaning moist air can’t settle on any surface in your home. This then keeps the air fresh!

A quick recap...

In conclusion, I’m sure you can agree with us, damp and mould in your home is no joke, and should be sorted as soon as you can! Here at First Choice Energy Ltd, we hope to have enlightened you on the symptoms, risks and the treatment of damp and mould in your home.

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