Dealing with damp What's the best way to deal with damp?

Builder with tools

You can fix some types of damp yourself but for others you'll need expert help

It can be difficult to know where to start when you're trying to get rid of damp and mould in your home. We'll show you what you need to do, whether you have condensation, rising damp or penetrating damp.

How you treat damp depends on the type that's affecting your home. 

If you have more than one kind, the solution will be more complicated. In most cases, you'll need to consult a builder, surveyor or specialist damp company. 

Before you get to work on solving your damp problem, make sure you've correctly diagnosed it. Discover whether you have rising damp, penetrating damp or condensation with our straightforward guide on what kind of damp is affecting your home.

Once you know what type of damp you have, use our gallery below to find out what simple things you can do to improve the problem, or prevent it reoccurring.

How to get rid of condensation

Condensation is one of the most easily fixed types of damp problem and can often be solved cheaply and quickly, without the need for professional help. 

When we surveyed Which? members to find out more about damp*, 64% with a condensation damp problem dealt with it themselves. One in 10 used a builder, 4% called in a specialist damp company and just 2% used a surveyor. 

Improve ventilation 

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You can improve a condensation problem with better ventilation. This can be as simple as opening windows - in our survey, more than half of those with a condensation problem did this.

If you don't have a fan in your bathroom or kitchen, you should consider installing them - these two rooms are responsible for most moisture in the home. 

Dehumidifiers can also help - read reviews of all our Best Buy dehumidifiers. We found nearly four in 10 people used a dehumidifier to try to solve their condensation problem.

There are also systems that aim to beat condensation by improving the ventilation, such as the Drimaster Heat - take a look at our review of it to find out if it works. 

We've heard from lots of Which? members who have successfully tackled condensation damp themselves. One said: 'I knew it was caused by a difference in temperature as evaporation cools. So open windows for better ventilation and use a dehumidifier to reduce water content in the air.'

Look at heating and insulation

You may also find that having your heating on constantly at a lower heat is better than having it switching from high to off. One in 10 people we spoke to did this. 

To make sure you're on the best energy deal, compare gas and electricity prices with Which? Switch. And if you need to upgrade your heating, see our recommendations of the most energy efficient boilers and portable heaters.

As cold spots on walls increase condensation, better insulation may improve it. So having cavity wall insulation or specialist insulation materials fixed to the outside of your house can help. For information about improving your insulation, see our expert guides on how to buy loft insulation and how to buy wall insulation. Two in 10 people improved their insulation to deal with condensation damp.

Clear the condensation

In the short term, you should regularly clear your windows of condensation. You can do this easily with a towel. Alternatively, window vacs claim to help you remove condensation from your windows quickly and easily. Find out what happened when we tried out the Karcher Window Vac.

You can also limit the amount of condensation produced by trying not to dry clothes on radiators. 

How to get rid of rising damp

Professional dealing with damp wall

There are plenty of options available to get rid of damp and mould

Rising damp is trickier to deal with and you'll probably need to get help from a professional. We found half of people with a rising damp problem used a specialist damp company to deal with it, while 16% called in a builder and 3% used a surveyor. Just 12% dealt with it themselves.

Check your damp-proof course

To deal with rising damp, you have to make sure that your damp-proof course is working. 

If your damp-proof course isn't working effectively, you may need a new one. The most common remedy is for a builder or damp specialist to drill holes in your wall and inject damp-proof cream, but there may be alternative solutions. We found half of Which? members with a rising damp problem got a new damp-proof course.

Dig away soil to level of damp-proof course

If you have a perfectly good damp-proof course (you will need an expert to confirm this), you can solve the problem by digging away the soil on the exterior side of the damp wall to below the level of the damp-proof course.

One Which? member said: 'My advice would be to always get someone in if damp persists, as it may be possible to get it stopped without spending a fortune. If you ignore damp, it will only get worse and it may end up very expensive.'

 

My advice would be to always get someone in if damp persists as it may be possible to get it stopped without spending a fortune. If you ignore damp, it will only get worse and it may end up very expensive

 

How to get rid of penetrating damp

What's causing your penetrating damp will affect how easy it is to solve. We found more than half of people with a penetrating damp problem used a builder to deal with it, while 8% used a specialist damp company and 2% called in a surveyor. Some 22% dealt with it themselves.

This means you'll need to work out the cause of penetrating damp before you can treat it. 

Check gutters, roof and window frames for leaks

Start by examining your gutters and downpipes for leaks or cracks. Check the roof – including the pointing (gaps between tiles) and flashing (where a roof meets the wall of a chimney). Check window frames and doors to see if there are any gaps.

Once you've found where water may be leaking through to your walls, you'll need to ask a builder to repair the fault. The solution depends on how water is entering walls, so could include installing new guttering or repointing your roof. One Which? member said: 'Water was coming through the roof. I contacted a roofing company (after consulting Which? Local) who sorted out the problem.'

We found nearly six in 10 people with a penetrating damp problem got their roof fixed, 34% mended cracks and leaks in their gutters and downpipes and 16% sorted gaps in their window frames and doors to deal with the problem. 

* We asked 1,592 Which? members about damp in February 2015

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