Damp properties cause misery for thousands of households across the UK. Figures from the English Housing Survey show 4% of the estimated 23 million households in England had rising damp or other damp problems in at least one room of their home.

The UK’s cold and wet climate contributes to the problem, but building fabric also plays a part. And although the age of much of the housing stock can contribute to damp issues, new homes can suffer from damp too.

Living in a damp property is generally unpleasant, what’s more it comes with known health risks. Damp often leads to mould, which can have effects ranging from nasal stuffiness or wheezing, to eye or skin irritation. Children, the elderly and people with skin or respiratory conditions are particularly at risk from moisture build-up in the home.

See our Energy Saving Trust advice on dealing with damp, or read on for more tips about reducing moisture in your home.

Defining damp

‘Damp’ is a general term which covers a range of different issues connected to excess moisture. It is important to establish what the source of the problem is exactly, and its origin.

If your property suffers from a build up of condensation, better ventilation might fix the problem, and it’s worth getting a dehumidifier initially to see if it improves the situation. Penetrating damp, on the other hand, is caused by water leaking through walls, for example due to broken guttering – and that’s a problem that ventilation alone can’t fix.

If dampness is just occurring at the bottom of a wall, the issue is likely to be rising damp. This is where ground water moves up through the house due to damage to a protective barrier known as a damp-proof course.

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