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Five ways to get rid of damp in your home

'Tis the season of condensation and damp, so we’ve rounded up five ways to keep it at bay this winter

Five ways to get rid of damp in your home

Damp comes in several different forms, and some types are far easier to fix than others. Whether your home is suffering from condensation or penetrating damp, there are simple steps you can take to help prevent the problem from getting any worse.

But what about the more serious cases, like rising damp? We’ve got advice on how to deal with the stubborn stuff, too.

Check out our comprehensive damp guide for in-depth advice on types of damp to help you identify which kind you might have.

Five ways to deal with damp

Buy a dehumidifier

Woman in pink jumper setting up a dehumidifier

If you’re noticing water stains on your walls or ceiling, condensation on your windows, mould spores in your shower or a general musty smell, it could be worth buying a dehumidifier.

Dehumidifiers draw moisture out of the air. These can be particularly useful if you often dry clothes inside the house – another common source of excess humidity.

There are different types and brands available, so read up on how to buy the best dehumidifier to find one that’s right for you.

What type of humidifier do you need? 

There are two main types of domestic dehumidifier – refrigerant and desiccant.

Refrigerant (or compressor) dehumidifiers  

Refrigerant dehumidifiers are the most common type in the UK. They create a cold surface and when warm, damp air comes into contact with the cold surface, condensation forms and drips into the water tank. They’re generally more effective when rooms are heated.

Desiccant dehumidifiers 

Desiccant dehumidifiers will often work more effectively than refrigerant dehumidifiers in colder temperatures of 15°C or less. But in our tests we’ve also found some desiccant models that work well in both colder and warmer conditions.

If you’re looking for a dehumidifier for an unheated garage, conservatory or other outbuilding, you should opt for a desiccant model.

Desiccant dehumidifiers use an absorbent material to extract water from the air, in a similar way to a sponge. The desiccant is regenerated by an internal heater, and the moisture drips into the water condenser.

If you think you might need a dehumidifier, check out our dehumidifier reviews to find the best one for your home.

Ventilate your home

Opening window for ventilation
Condensation is the most common type of damp and is the easiest damp problem to fix. It can often be solved cheaply and quickly, and sometimes without the need for professional help.

Improving your home’s ventilation can help clear condensation and prevent it returning.

Bathrooms and kitchens are responsible for most of the moisture in your home. If you don’t have an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen, you should consider installing one to reduce condensation.

When you can, always try to limit the amount of condensation produced in your home:

  • Regularly clear your windows of condensation so it doesn’t cause damage or develop into mould. You can do this easily with a towel, tissues, or for windows that open, a squeegee.
  • Open windows regularly; especially when cooking, washing up or showering.
  • Try to dry clothes outside on sunny days, rather than on a clothes rail.
  • Add window vents to the tops of window frames.
  • Build air bricks into outside walls.
  • Install air vents to internal walls or sealed chimneys for airflow.
  • Fit roof ventilation tiles to allow air through the loft.

Check your gutters

Leaking gutters in the rain
Penetrating damp is caused by water leaking through walls. It tends to happen as a result of structural problems, such as faulty guttering or roofing, or cracks in external walls.

Fixing penetrating damp can be easy and cheap to do yourself. But, before you can treat it or decide whether to get a professional in, you’ll need to identify the issue first.

The first sign of penetrating damp is usually wet or leaking walls. Look out for:

  • a discolouration of interior walls
  • damp patches
  • mould
  • blistered plaster
  • water droplets
  • a wet surface.

You might find that the penetrating damp is being caused by water leaking from gutters and downpipes on the outside of your property, so examine them for cracks. Fixing them could well solve the problem.

Try damp-proof paint

You might also find that old bricks have become porous and are allowing water to get into your home.

If this is the case, you may need to get them replaced.

However, one easier option to try first is painting the bricks with an exterior silicone water-repellent fluid or limewash, that will seal your walls again, while still allowing them to breathe.

Damp-proof exterior paint can also be a good preventative measure, but seek professional advice first on what would work best for your home’s age and building materials.

Invest in a damp-proof course (DPC)

Rising damp is one of the trickiest types of damp to rectify and you’ll probably need to get help from a professional.

The first thing to do if you have rising damp is to find out whether you have a damp-proof course and damp-proof membrane, which should stop water from the ground soaking into ground-level walls or floors.

You may be able to spot a damp-proof course by looking for a thin horizontal strip near the bottom of the external wall.

You’ll need to get an expert to confirm this and to try to ascertain whether there is also a damp-proof membrane.

The most common remedy for a missing or damaged damp-proof course is for a builder or damp specialist to drill holes into your wall and inject damp-proof liquid to act as a new course.

But there are other solutions, such as cutting grooves into the brickwork and installing a piece of damp-proof membrane rather than a chemical one. This is more invasive than just drilling holes, so may be less easily hidden.

Our damp costs page shows typical prices for both of these jobs.

If you’re looking for a damp specialist, you can use our Which? Trusted Traders website to find recommended tradespeople who have been through our rigorous checks.

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