spotting signs of damp

How can I spot damp in my property?

Damp problems in your home can be very concerning for property owners and occupants. The signs of damp can appear overnight or, more commonly, appear slowly over time. There are a whole range of symptoms that can result from a damp issue in the home. In this blog post we will highlight the more common signs of damp, however as no two cases of damp are the same, it can be difficult to diagnose the cause of these problems. Once you have identified that your property is potentially suffering from damp it’s best to get in touch with a professional damp and timber surveyor to correctly diagnose the source of the problem. 

Common Signs And Symptoms Of Damp

musty smell

Musky smells and stagnant air

A musty smell can quickly make your property feel less inviting and homely. It is a sign that something is up within your house and is commonly caused by mould or mildew. Musty air often contains mould spores and can have a detrimental impact upon your health.

rising damp

Stained walls

Dark patches, discolouration and tide marks on walls are a sure-fire sign of some form of dampness and excessive moisture. This can be caused by a number of sources but is often attributed to rising damp. However, this is a common misdiagnosis and other issues are at play.

damp decaying timber

Decaying timber

Timber inside and outside your property will decay after extended periods of excessive wetness. If a piece of timber has a moisture content of 20% or more it is serious danger of decay.

mould and fungus

Mould and fungus growth

There are a whole variety of moulds and fungus that flourish in damp properties. Common types are black mould (Aspergillus niger) and dry rot (Serpula lacrymans). These can be evident on walls, floors and windows within the home.

Water Leak

Visible wet patches on walls or ceiling

This can be a sign of penetrating damp which can be caused by internal leaks or rain water breaching the properties defences.


Excessive water droplets on windows

This a sign of condensation within a property, which is the most common cause of dampness. It is caused by warm, moist air hitting a cold surface such as a window.

rainwater goods

Plant growth around rainwater goods

This is a sign of a blocked downpipe or gutter which is releasing water into the surrounding fabric of the property. Penetrating damp, in the form of dark patches, may also be visible on exterior walls.

damaged skirting boards

Damaged or rotting skirting boards

Damp and damaged skirting boards are often attributed to rising damp but can also be the sign of other damp issues. 

damaged plaster

Damaged or crumbling plaster

This symptom can be one of the easiest to spot as it is often at eye level. You may spot bubbling paint or crumbling plaster that can be saturated with water. Hygroscopic salts can build up on the plaster which then attract more moisture from the air 

Difficulties Diagnosing The Source Of Damp

It can be common for similar symptoms to originate from different sources of damp. Therefore, it’s not always simple to determine the cause of damp within a property without further inspection and analysis. Quick diagnosis of damp symptoms can be a risky business as many factors can have an impact on damp in a property including time, weather and lifestyle of the occupants.

Despite the fact that the symptoms of damp are often very visible it can be tricky to properly diagnose the real causes of damp. The sources of damp are often well hidden and sometimes there can be multiple causes acting at the same time. It can be risky for the layman to self-diagnose damp problems as all too often we see failed attempts to fix damp issues that actually make the problems worse! It is common for people to simply mask the symptoms of damp in the belief that this is fixing the problem but this doesn’t address the source of damp makes proper diagnosis harder. If you believe that your property may be suffering from damp it is best to get in an expert to conduct a thorough survey of the property before making any improvements.

Expert Damp & Timber Surveyors

Many factors need to be taken into consideration when conducting a professional damp survey to get a complete picture of the property. Here at Insitu SCP we have been undertaking damp and timber surveys for over 35 years. Our surveyors are experienced and fully qualified professionals who pride themselves on accurate diagnosis and excellent customer service. If you believe your property is suffering from damp issues please get in touch with our friendly team today.

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