Condensation and damp can damage your health and your property so it’s essential that you tackle the problem as soon as you spot the first signs.
What’s the difference between damp and condensation?
Damp and condensation are both problems with water, however they have different sources. Condensation is water that has condensed out of the air, while damp is water that’s already within the fabric of the building.
Condensation may be a symptom of damp. It typically occurs where a there’s a sudden difference in temperature such as a single-glazed window on a cold day (warm indoors, cold outdoors) or on the side of a glass containing an iced drink. Condensation is a bad sign in modern homes as double glazing and proper ventilation has largely eliminated it.
What’s the difference between penetrating and rising damp?
Damp is often described as either ‘rising’ or ‘penetrating’. Rising damp is when water from the ground rises up through the building. Penetrating damp is water that is entering the building because the weatherproof seal has failed. For example, if a few tiles are missing on the roof, you may have rainwater penetrating the attic and appearing as damp in rooms below.
How to treat condensation
Condensation is typically a symptom of high humidity, and by simply opening your windows regularly, you could have found the easiest condensation solution. If the extra water vapour in the air is caused by human habits, such as washing, cooking and breathing, or lack of ventilation, then a change in behaviour may be sufficient condensation solutions: they can put an end the problem and prevent it coming back. It is generally easier to automate solutions – such as installing windows with trickle venting or automatic extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom and if the problem is extensive then consulting a condensation specialist may be required. However, if condensation is caused by rising or penetrating damp then these methods will be insufficient.
How to treat damp
Both rising and penetrating damp require structural solutions. Penetrating damp can be resolved by finding the source of the problem – often an overflowing gutter, missing tile or similar – and repairing the break in the property’s weatherproof seal. Rising damp may be more complex to solve as it typically requires the installation of a new damp-proof course, or the repairing of the existing one. Depending on the property size and type, the damp proof course may not be easy to access so this work can be disruptive. If it becomes a serious case to which you have flooding, then flood damage restoration is something to keep in mind.
How do I know what to do?
To determine whether the damp and condensation in your property is caused by rising or penetrating damp, by human activity or by another factor (such as a leaking pipe), it is best to consult a condensation specialist. Using non-invasive tools, the specialist can create a moisture map of your property which can lead to diagnosing a hidden leak, uncovering a break in the weatherproof seal (where rain is getting in from outside) or giving evidence of rising damp. The survey technique can also show if human habit change will be a sufficient solution.