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Damp, mould and condensation

Damp, mould and condensation are common problems in the home. There are things you can do to prevent them, or reduce them.

We have worked with Ipswich Borough Council to produce a handy guide on how to reduce condensation.


'Damp' is generally used to describe water that has damaged the structure of a home. There are two types of damp:

  • rising
  • penetrating

Rising damp

Rising damp is quite rare and occurs when moisture from the ground travels upward, through the walls.

Most houses have a barrier installed (this barrier is called a damp proof course) to prevent rising damp. However, these courses can fail over time - in older houses, they might not exist at all. Sometimes, due to a construction fault, they may also be bridged. This means that, despite the course remaining intact, damp can still travel past it.

Rising damp will affect the ground floor of your home, up to a height of about one and a half metres.

A few, common signs of rising damp are:

  • dark patches on the wall(s), that are damp to the touch
  • peeling wallpaper
  • a damp and musty smell
  • decaying timber (for example, the floor boards)

Rising damp is usually treated with a damp proofing injection cream.

Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp is also sometimes referred to as 'rain penetration'. It occurs when moisture travels through an external wall and into the home.

Penetrating damp is usually the result of building defects like cracks in a wall(s), spalling bricks or faulty guttering. It can affect your home at any level, and can get worse after long and heavy periods of rain.

A few, common signs of penetrating damp are:

  • damaged or misshapen plaster
  • damage to the interior decoration of the home
  • damp patches that get bigger when they come into contact with moisture
  • mould growth

Treatment will depend on the individual property and the extent of the damage.

How to prevent damp

There are a few, simple things you can do to help prevent damp in your home:

  • Dry your clothes outside
  • Use the extractor fans in your kitchen and bathroom, if you have them
  • Air your home regularly by opening your windows for short periods of time
  • Keep your home warm

You should also check for, and cover, any gaps in window and door frames.


Mould is a naturally occurring fungi that grows on damp surfaces, in poorly ventilated conditions. Damp and condensation can both cause mould to grow and reproduce.

If your home is not kept warm and dry, it's at risk of mould growth.

Mould is a health concern and can make asthma worse - it can also cause other breathing problems.

How to prevent mould

If you take steps to prevent damp in your home, you are making sure that mould is less likely to grow too.

Keep your home as ventilated as possible - open windows regularly and always open windows after cooking or showering. You should also keep your doors closed, so that moisture does not have a chance to spread.

If you have thick carpets, clean them regularly. Do not block your radiators with furniture, or use them to dry clothes.

A home free of clutter is also less likely to see mould growth, as the air will have more space to circulate in.

The Centre for Sustainable Energy have published an easy to read guide about dealing with damp and mould in the home.


Condensation is a common household problem. It is a physical change where a gas turns into a liquid (it is the opposite of evaporation).

It can occur when warm, humid air meets a cold surface - for example, water vapour will release moisture (as water droplets) when it comes into contact with a window.

Condensation can cause damp, and then mould.

How to prevent condensation

The best way to prevent condensation is to keep your home well ventilated; warm and dry. Open your windows regularly so that fresh air can circulate.

Wipe down windows and their sills every morning, to prevent a build-up of excess moisture. You should also wipe down bathroom tiles after showering or having a bath.

Dehumidifiers, when regularly cleaned, are also an effective way of managing condensation as they remove water from air.

Contact us

If you still have a problem, and are a council tenant, please contact us and we will send somebody to inspect your home.