Condensation and rising damp share similar characteristics which is one of the main reasons the two are often confused.

Condensation Explained

Condensation is formed from airborne moisture (atmospheric water) turning from water vapour to liquid. Naturally occurring there is moisture in air at all times. When air cools/expands it is unable to hold moisture (water is heavier than air) meaning tiny droplets of water are formed.

Condensation within the home is caused by changing temperatures.  Water vapour constantly floats around your home and is fairly innocuous. It’s only when it comes into contact with something cold that it starts to become more troublesome.

When water vapour hits something cold, like a window or a poorly insulated surface, the water vapour drops in temperature and loses strength. It can no longer hold onto its water content and drops onto the colder surface. This recognisable deposit of water is what you see when you notice condensation. You can expect to see condensation on any surface where the cold air of the outside world comes into contact with the warmth of your home. Windows and poorly insulated walls are the usual locations to expect condensation.

Condensation can lead to black mould. Black mould, or Stachybotrys, is a naturally occurring fungus. Unfortunately, this mould finds the humidity provided by condensation the perfect environment.

Rising damp explained

Rising damp is different to condensation, although has the same appearance.

The best example to explain how rising damp occurs is to imagine a sponge being dipped into water. The sponge sucks the water in. House bricks placed onto damp ground behave in an identical way, sucking up water from the wet ground and it’s called capillary action, House bricks tend to suck water up, hence the name “rising damp”. Bricks and masonry will continue to suck water up to around 1.2 metres (when gravity intervenes). The damp levels will continue to build up in these affected areas.

Much like the black mould found in condensation afflicted areas, the wet areas involved in rising damp also attract the spores of the Stachybotrys mould, often the first sign that you have a rising damp problem. You may also notice damage to the outside of your home, raising damp offers a tell-tale tide mark on exterior bricks.

Don’t confuse rising damp with other common types of damp

All elevations of your property can suffer from penetrating damp (a similar condition to rising damp). Common in cement rendered homes or those where a cavity wall has been filled.  Penetrating damp is the result of trapped damp, or an increase in water vapour which overwhelms the few escape routes.

Damp can be caused by problems within a home such as:

  • Blocked or leaking gutters meaning rainwater enters a property
  • Broken pipes
  • Leaking pipes
  • Issues with the damp course.

An interesting fact, Penicillin used today in medicines was discovered in the 1900’s in a mould fungus

Antibiotics are compounds produced by bacteria and fungi which are capable of killing, or inhibiting, competing microbial species. This phenomenon has long been known; it may explain why the ancient Egyptians had the practice of applying a poultice of moldy bread to infected wounds. But it was not until 1928 that penicillin, the first true antibiotic, was discovered by Alexander Fleming, Professor of Bacteriology at St. Mary’s Hospital in London.

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