Damp and excessive moisture in the home can be detrimental to both the health of your body and the health of your home. To improve the longevity of your home and improve the conditions of your indoor environment for your health, it is essential that you know how to spot damp in your home.
There are several quick and easy ways to spot damp in the home before it causes serious damage to your household or your family’s health.
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One indication of dampness in the home that is easy to recognize without having to search for it is a musty smell. While musty smells can be caused by several different factors, the most common cause of a musty smell in the home is the formation of mold and mildew.
As mold and mildew build and grow, they release gasses into the air. This is the musty odor that you smell. While the damp could be collecting in or around your walls, excess moisture can also find its way into your fabric-covered furniture, rugs, or curtains. The excess moisture will make these fabrics smell musty as well.
A damp or musty smell is often the first sign of excessive moisture in the home. A musty smell seems to appear first before any visible signs of damp or moisture.
Therefore, if you find yourself smelling strong damp or musty odors, it is time to look into removing the excess moisture from your home’s environment. Taking action as you smell a musty odor can prevent serious damage to your home and health in the future.
Look at the Walls
The condition of your walls can give you significant information about the environment of your home. Both the color, temperature, and wallpaper can indicate damp in the home.
If you have wallpaper in one of your rooms, especially in or around your bathroom, look for any signs of peeling or warping. Wallpaper that is curling at the edges or moving away from the wall is a clear indication of dampness I the home. You may want to look towards the baseboards or floorboards and where sheets of wallpaper meet. These spots are where damp wallpaper tends to peel first.
Look for staining, tide marks, or spotting on your walls. Tide marks often appear as a white, powdery spot near the lower parts of the wall. These marks are caused by minerals and salts moving through the wall and reaching the wall’s surface. The white mark is the accumulation of the minerals.
You may find damp patches or stains on your wall. Patches and stains often appear as a yellow or brownish color. They can usually be found by the floor, but the location of the spots can vary by the location of windows, sinks, or showers. Stains can be a good indication of dampness permeating the walls either from the interior of the exterior.
You can also look for fungus, mold, or decay. Any mold is a clear indication of damp, as fungus and mold need damp to survive and thrive. Take mold seriously if you see it and immediately take action to remove the mold and the excess moisture in the home. Decay can also be a sign of damp penetrating the walls and the timbers in the house.
Look at the Floors
Similar to the walls, an examination of the floor could reveal excessive moisture and damp. There are several indications of damp that can be found by looking at the floor.
Just like wallpaper, some types of flooring may peel or warp as they experience excessive moisture. Tiles and vinyl flooring may begin to feel moist most of the time. Additionally, the tile and vinyl may begin to lift or curve away from the floor. This is often caused by damp and continuous exposure to excessive moisture.
Carpets act similarly to vinyl flooring and wallpaper. Aside from smelling musty, carpets exposed to continuous damp can also lift away from the floor. Lifting and warping are suggestive signs of damp or moisture that is trapped.
Use Your Sense of Touch and Hearing
While it may seem counterintuitive, touching the walls or belongings in your home can help you detect excess moisture or damp in your home. Excessive moisture will cling to walls, especially if the walls are covered in wallpaper. If you touch the wall and notice that it feels damp, then you should take action to remove excessive moisture.
Similarly, damp and moisture cause the walls to become colder upon touch. If you touch a wall and it feels colder than normal, your home may be experiencing high levels of moisture.
Your sense of touch can also be beneficial for gauging the moisture in carpet or rugs. If you feel that a rug or carpet is damp, wet, moist, then you should look into excessive moisture in your home. The same can be said about other fabrics or fabric-covered furniture in your home.
If any of your rugs, curtains, couches, or other fabric-covered furniture feels damp, then it is time to look into removing excess moisture from your home’s environment.
You can also inspect your fabrics for mold or mildew. Mold can grow on the insides of curtains, and water can condensate on plastics. Inspect your belongings for mold and condensation. This will help you discover unwanted damp that may exist in your home.
While this is slightly more difficult to gauge, you can also use your sense of hearing to discover the effects of excess moisture. If you have wallpaper that is affected by salts left behind after evaporation processes, then the wallpaper will be covered in minerals.
If you rub your hand over the affected area, you should hear crunchy, sand-like sounds. This is the salt or minerals rubbing across the wallpaper. This is a clear indication of excess moisture in the walls.
Check the Windows
Another simple way to check the home for excessive damp is to watch the windows. Condensation can appear on the windows, causing them to fog. This condensation is caused when moist, warm air meets a cool surface.
Condensation is more prevalent in homes with energy-efficient or energy-saving features. Double glazed and double paned windows create an air-tight seal that does not allow for any ventilation. Therefore, condensation and more likely to occur, as the evaporating water and excessive moisture has nowhere to go.
Mold can also appear rather quickly around windows, and mold can even find its way on the glass. If you see mold anywhere near or around the windows, you should take action to remove the mold and the moisture causing the mold to grow.
Fog or condensation on the windows an indication that there could be damp or moisture in your home.
Look at the Ceiling
One final place to check for signs of damp is at the ceiling. Just like the walls, signs of damp can appear on the ceiling.
Brown spots or stains can appear and discolor your ceiling. This can be a sign of excessive moisture or moisture coming from the other side of the ceiling. Be sure to check for patches around chimneys, as chimneys can present higher levels of moisture around the ceiling.
If you see mold growing on your ceilings or in the corners where the ceilings meet the walls, you should take action to remove the mold and the damp causing the mold to thrive.
Be Vigilant to Manage Damp
While it is necessary to have some moisture in the air, damp and moist conditions in the home lead to serious issues of mold and mildew. Damp can damage your house and your belongings within it. Damp can also significantly affect your health.
The first sign of damp is usually the smell. If your home smells musty or damp, it is a good idea to inspect your house to find out the cause. You can then take effective and preventative action to remove damp from your home.
If you find advanced signs of damp, like mold, it is imperative that you take the steps to remove the mold and moisture from your home. These tips will help you decide if your home is suffering from damp.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency. “A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home.” EPA, 2017, accessed by https://www.epa.gov/mold/brief-guide-mold-moisture-and-your-home.
Health and Environment Alliance. “Damp and Mould: Health Risks, Prevention, and Remedial Actions.” World Health Organization: Europe, 2009.