There are a number of types of damp which may affect your home.
Rising damp comes from the ground and usually only affects the ground floor and basements. It can cause skirting boards and timber floors to rot, plaster may bubble and solid floors may get fine white crystals forming. It is caused by moisture from the ground rising up through continuous fine pores in floors or walls. Its treatment requires extensive removal of plaster and injection of a chemical barrier. If only a small area is affected, this is unlikely to be a significant problem but if extensive or left to deteriorate, it can cause significant structural damage to the property and may also present a health risk.
Rising damp is typically seen above skirting boards and appears like a wave or shadow of wet plaster.
Penetrating damp often comes from leaking rainwater goods or overflow pipes and is resolved by addressing the structural defects which are causing water to enter the building. Often the dampness with dry out, however sometimes remedial plasterwork may be required.
Penetrating damp looks like an isolated wet patch which could be located on walls or ceilings. It is usually confined to an area adjacent to the defective part of the building allowing water ingress.
Chemical damp is caused by salt contamination, which can be identified by patches of salt crystals and/or white staining and is usually caused by the plaster being contaminated by hygroscopic salts, which absorb moisture from the air.
The problem can be solved by removing the contaminated plasterwork, treating the affected wall with a salt inhibitor and re-plastering the area.
Following a flood, a property will normally be left with large damp patches caused by the influx of water. This can take many months to dry fully and may need the assistance of a dehumidifier.
If you have been affected by a flood, you should contact your insurer in the first instance.
Condensation occurs when air laden with water vapour is cooled by contact with a cold surface. It is most commonly seen on the surface of mirrors and toilet cisterns and around the edges of windows in cooler weather.
Minor condensation is not a problem and occurs in most properties at some time but becomes serious when mould growth occurs extensively on cold surfaces and can affect clothing, soft furnishings and decorative finishes.
To keep your home free from serious condensation you will need to balance how you heat your property with the amount of ventilation that is provided. You will also need to minimise how much moisture is generated within the home.
If you rent your home and it is not provided with an adequate heating system, or has inadequate insulation or ventilation, then the council may be able to inspect your premises to determine if any action needs to be taken by your landlord.