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Damp is a common problem for homes around the country.  It is also one that can be subtle in the early stages with signs and symptoms that can be easy to miss if you don’t know what you are looking for.  While learning the signs of damp is never a bad idea, there is another way to have your home inspected to see if there is a damp problem – with a damp inspection.

Common damp problems

There are a number of different types of damp and problems that occur as a result of them.  There are three types that are most commonly seen in homes around the UK and each has clear symptoms to spot to help you diagnose their presence.

Rising damp

Rising damp is the condition that comes about through the natural process of water being absorbed through brickwork from the ground.  This is where the damp proof course or DPC comes in – it creates a barrier that stops the water reaching higher levels of the house and having an effect on interior spaces.  However, if the DPC is broken or missing entirely in older houses, then rising damp can become a problem.

Signs of rising damp can include:

  • Water marks on wallpaper near the base of walls
  • Peeling paint near the base of walls
  • Swollen skirting boards
  • Black mould patches

Damage caused by damp on a wall in modern house

Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp is mostly seen at the other end of the house, near the roof.  It happens when water penetrates the house through some weakness including a broken roof tiles, cracks in the rendering on the house, broken bricks or even broken guttering.  All of these create a weakness that allows the water to access interior spaces and creates penetrating damp.

Signs of penetrating damp include:

  • Water mark on wallpaper near the ceiling
  • Peeling paint near the ceiling
  • Water stains on the ceiling
  • Black mould patches


Condensation is the name given to the condition where warm moisture-filled air comes into contact with a cold surface and releases that moisture onto it.  Windows are a prime candidate for this – so when you have been in the shower you will often notice lots of spots of water on the window when the warm air has struck it and released the water.  Condensation is common and can be easy t deal with but if it isn’t then it can lead to other damp related conditions including dry and wet rot because moisture levels in the home are higher than they should be.

Signs of condensation include:

  • Water on windows
  • Water on walls
  • Water on furniture
  • Black mould patches

The damp inspection

If you have noticed any of these signs or are concerned about damp being present in your home, then a damp inspection is the best option.  This will involve a damp expert visiting the property and carrying out an inspection to look for signs of damp and problems that could lead to these kinds of conditions. Here is a London based one www.tapcohomedry.com.  They will also look at things like the damp proof course in the house to see how this is functioning and if it needs some repair work.

Once the inspection has been carried out, you will then receive a report from the damp proof company that lets you know what problems they have found and what measures they suggest to deal with the problems.  It is up to you if you act on these recommendations, but it can lead to major problems with your home if you don’t.

Threats from damp

While the damp may seem a small problem with a little bit of damp wallpaper or a tendency to have too much moisture on the bathroom window, the threats from damp are real and very serious.

Wet rot

Wet rot might sound the more serious of the two common conditions but is actually a little less likely to affect your home because it needs a moisture content of 50% or above.  This allows the fungus to grow and can then grow on any timber inside the home.  This can lead to weakened timbers and reduce the strength of the house.

Dry rot

Dry rot needs a moisture content of around 20% or above to grow and can be devastating if it gets into your home.  Not only does it cause problems in wood but can also infect other parts of the property and can result in the home being almost uninhabitable.

Black mould

Black mould isn’t a structural threat in the way that wet or dry rot can be but can cause health problems for people in the home.  The spores from the mould can aggravate conditions such as asthma and mean people cannot remain in the home.


A damp inspection is the best way to find and solve a problem with damp even in the earliest stages – or even if you are concerned a situation might lead to damp.  The problems and threats from damp are considerable if left untreated so prevention is always the best course of action.