Condensation and damp are two common problems in homes. However, you should know how to tell the difference between condensation and damp issues that have been caused by different factors.

Some problems in the home are caused by condensation dampness, but other types of damp have other causes like poor drainage, a water leak, defective plumbing, rainwater ingress or rising dampness.

Problems due to damp from condensation occur most frequently when the weather is cold but other kinds of damp usually worsen when the weather is wet.

Typically, you may notice signs of condensation including mould patches that have soft, blurred edges instead of stain marks.

Many flats and houses suffer from dampness and condensation due to poor wall insulation.

Damp is the cause of mould on furniture and walls and it also makes floors, skirting boards and window frames rot. Also, it encourages dust mites to grow and can make respiratory illnesses more likely.

Damp patches may also damage the wall plaster, resulting in dry rot.

Since condensation and other forms of damp are easily confused, it isn’t always easy to know which you’re dealing with.

With this in mind, read on and learn how to tell the difference between dampness and condensation, find out what can cause penetrating damp and condensation and discover how to treat both problems.

In this article you’ll find:

What causes condensation?

How can I get rid of condensation damp?

What is rising damp and penetrative damp?

What happens if you don’t treat damp?

How should I deal with damp?

What Causes Condensation?

Condensation happens if damp air comes into contact with a cold surface such as double glazing windows and their window frames, a solid wall or mirror.

When this happens, the warm air cannot hold onto the water vapour and this causes water droplets to form.

Moist air occurs for many reasons. It may be due to:

  • Natural weather conditions
  • Human respiration
  • Plants
  • Poorly vented tumble dryers or washing machines
  • When you dry clothes indoors on central heating radiators
  • If kitchens and bathrooms have their doors left open while they’re in use
  • If you cook or take a shower without extractor fans running

Condensation is also more likely to form on northeast-facing walls.

Without condensation control methods in place, black mould can be the result. Otherwise known as Stachybotrys, this fungus occurs naturally and can not only be unsightly but can even damage your health.

How Do You Get Rid Of Condensation Damp?

There are a number of steps you can take to help reduce condensation:

  • Correctly vent your washing machine
  • Only dry clothing outdoors
  • Make sure bathroom and kitchen doors are closed while in use
  • Use lids on your pans
  • Keep an extractor fan running while you’re cooking
  • Use an extractor fan if you’re bathing or showering
  • Never use paraffin or portable gas heater indoors
  • Cover your aquarium
  • Wipe cold surfaces if condensation forms
  • Avoid overfilling your cupboards and wardrobes
  • Move your furniture a minimum of 2” from your external walls

How To Tell The Difference Between Rising Damp and Penetrative Damp?

Rising damp is a form of damp that looks similar to condensation, and the same can be said of penetrating damp.

Nevertheless, rising and penetrating damp and condensation are two different things.

If your house bricks have been placed onto the damp ground, they act as a sponge to suck the water up from the damp ground.

This gives rise to the name “rising damp”. Masonry and bricks continue sucking up the water until gravity prevents it from moving upwards any further.

Usually, this occurs just over a metre from the ground.

Once this happens, the levels of damp continue building up in this area, eventually damaging the wall ties.

It can also result in Stachybotrys mould. Tide marks often appear on the external bricks of the property which is usually the first sign of your rising damp issue.

Penetrating damp is very like rising damp except its movement is horizontal, not vertical. It tends to occur on walls at ground floor level and is especially common in homes with cement rendering or with a filled cavity wall.

Although insulation is an excellent energy-saving method it can cause damp and mould to become trapped. Although the cause of penetrating damp is different from that of condensation, it produces the same type of effect.

It’s important not to confuse penetrating damp with other kinds of damp or condensation.

For example, salt dampness can occur due to long-running water ingress through a chimney. If plants and weeds are growing on top of your chimney stack, this means sufficient water is there to help them grow.

Natural salts and minerals in the air move through the building to appear as brown stains on the internal walls.

What happens if I don’t get damp or condensation treated?

If you discover that you have a problem with damp or condensation, you should get it treated as quickly as possible. Failing to resolve the issue could lead to long-term problems that could be very costly to rectify.

In a worst-case scenario, your property could end up requiring structural repair due to issues like wet rot which causes severe damage to the structure of the building.

You could also end up suffering from health issues due to black mould and living in a damp environment.

How do you get rid of compensation damp?

The damp treatments you should use depend on which kind of damp you’re dealing with and how it has been caused.

Fortunately, condensation is relatively easy to resolve. If you see signs of condensation in your home it’s likely that ventilation is lacking in the parts of your property where moist air is most likely to arise.

Installing a kitchen or bathroom extractor fan can help greatly with this. Even opening your window may resolve the problem to a significant extent.

If you’ve discovered a case of penetrative damp, you need to find the cause of the issue.

Often, it will be something like a broken water pipe that needs to be repaired. The best way to ensure the correct cause has been identified is to hire a specialist to perform a survey.

Cases of rising damp are more problematic to resolve. This is because they can cause severe structural issues. Therefore, the more quickly you treat the problem, the cheaper the treatment will be.

The most common way to resolve rising damp problems is to install a damp proof course, but other options are available too. As well as a damp proof course, an electro-osmotic system could be used to eradicate the damp problem.

Some other methods which can help to resolve damp problems in your home involve using timber treatments to eradicate dry and wet rot, and fitting basement waterproofing to guard against water ingress from the ground floor of your property.

Condensation In My Property

Although it isn’t always easy to spot the difference between condensation and damp in your home, this helpful guide should point you in the right direction.

If you’re worried that you may develop a damp issue in your home, check here to see if you can find insurance that will cover you against all eventualities.

Mick Silver

Mick Silver

Mick Silver is the CEO and co-founder of Moovshack. With over 20 years in the property industry. After working with traditional estate agents, Mick decided to launch Moovshack; a fully interactive property app.