Types of damp and what causes it, how to prevent damp and mould, what to do if there's damp or mould in your home.
Types of damp and what causes it
Too much moisture causes damp and mould. There are 3 types of damp:
- penetrating damp
- rising damp
Penetrating damp happens when water seeps into a building.
This can happen when:
- the roof or rendering is damaged
- the gutters are blocked
- pipes are leaking or plumbing is damaged
- areas around sinks, showers or baths are damaged, such as cracked grouting or worn out sealant
Rising damp happens when water rises from the ground through the floor and into the walls of the building. You can often see rising damp because it leaves a tide mark low down on affected walls.
If you think your home has penetrating or rising damp, tell your landlord as soon as possible. Damp can cause a lot of damage if you ignore it.
Damp in new homes
If you live in a new or recently built property, it may not have dried out from water left from the building work. It can take between 9 and 18 months to dry completely. If you're worried, contact your landlord.
Condensation and mould
Condensation happens when warm humid air hits a cold surface, such as windows and external walls. Warm humid air is made by activities such as showering or cooking.
Condensation is common in areas where there is little air movement, such as:
- behind furniture
- in cupboards
- under work surfaces
- on north facing walls
- in corners
If a property doesn't have good ventilation and heating, condensation can cause mould. Mould is a type of fungus which grows in damp conditions. Its spores can make some medical conditions worse, such as:
- respiratory infections, such as bronchitis
How to prevent condensation and mould growth
Reduce moisture by wiping any damp or wet windows, sills, walls and surfaces with a paper towel and throwing it away.
- Keep low, background heating on all day if possible and a window slightly open (warm air can hold more moisture so you're less likely to have condensation).
- Don't put heating on for short periods of time (this will make the problem worse because the air heats and cools quickly).
- Don't use liquid, propane gas or paraffin heaters because they produce a lot of water vapour.
See Cost of living support if you cannot afford to heat your home.
Help air move around
- Leave doors open unless you're cooking, having a shower or bath, or drying clothes.
- Keep furniture away from walls, particularly external walls, if possible.
- Don't overfill cupboards and wardrobes.
- Don't block airbricks or vents.
- Don't completely block chimneys, leave a hole and fit an air vent.
- Keep a window slightly open, if possible, because this will help moisture escape.
- Keep trickle vents open if you have them. A trickle vent is a small slot above a window or door that allows air in and out when the door or window is closed.
It might seem strange to keep the heating on with a window slightly open, but it helps because you're letting air that's full of moisture out and dry air in. Dry air is easier and cheaper to heat.
- Close the kitchen door.
- Open a window or put the extractor fan on.
- Cover pans with lids.
- Don't leave pans or the kettle boiling longer than needed.
Having a shower or bath
- Close the bathroom door.
- Open a window or put the extractor fan on.
- Leave the window open or fan on until all the moisture has gone from the windows and walls.
- When you have a bath, put some cold water in the bath first and then add hot water. This will reduce the amount of steam produced.
- Dry clothes outdoors if possible.
- If you have to dry clothes indoors:
- put them in a room with the door shut and heating on
- open a window (or put the extractor fan on if they're in the bathroom)
- If you use a vented tumble dryer, make sure it has a hosepipe taking the moisture outside.
- Remove any mould as soon as you see it.
- Clean the area with soapy water or a fungicidal wash (follow any instructions carefully).
- Don't brush or vacuum the area because it can disturb mould spores.
- Dry the area thoroughly.
- Paint the area with a fungicidal paint. Don't use ordinary paint or wallpaper.
Find out more about preventing damp and mould in our pdf damp and mould leaflet (351 KB) .
If you still have damp or mould in your home
Contact the provider of your home if you still have damp or mould and you:
- have followed the advice on this page
- cannot follow the advice on this page because of an issue with your home (for example, the heating doesn't work or the extractor fans are broken)
The provider of your home will be your landlord, lettings agent or the council.
They must investigate and fix the damp or mould if it's caused by disrepair, such as:
- no working heating
- broken extractor fan
If you’re a council tenant
To report damp and mould, if you’re a council tenant:
- use our form
- call 0117 922 2200 (or 0117 922 2050 out of office hours)
- visit our Customer Service Point
If you're not happy with the service received from us, you can make a complaint.
If you’re a tenant of another provider or private landlord
You must contact your landlord or lettings agent to report the issue.
Clearly describe the problem and ask your landlord or agent to investigate and do the necessary repairs or improvements.
Do this in writing in case you need to prove that they knew about the problem at a later date.
Do not stop paying your rent because there's damp or mould in your home. This could put you at risk of being served an eviction notice.
If your landlord or lettings agent do not investigate or do the necessary repairs within a reasonable amount of time, fill in our online form.