With Christmas just around the corner spirits are certainly high - yet sadly, so are the chances of dampness in our homes.

The cold nights have returned with a bitter chill which makes British homes extremely liable to building up damp.

It doesn’t matter if we’re a homeowner or a renter, it’s never a good thing and can be a real pain.

It can make a room feel cold, unwelcoming and unhealthy, and at worst it can mean structural or weatherproofing issues.

That said, experts at B&Q have put together a rough guide on dealing with dampness in our homes.

How to know when you have damp

You’ll probably be able to see or smell whether you are damp in the winter, but you can look for warning signs at any time of year. Check the following:

  • Walls – Hold your hand against the wall, does it feel very cold or damp? Look for signs of mould or fungal growth which will appear as black speckled marks or grey growths on painted walls, woodwork and wallpaper. Flaking paint or curling wallpaper can also be a sign.
  • Ceilings – As well as looking for signs of mould, pay close attention to the colour of the ceiling. Is it discoloured or stained in areas? Brown patches in the external corners and near chimney breasts can be damp.
  • Windows - Condensation on windows in the morning, along with small puddles of water along windowsills, can indicate high moisture levels within your house. This can be both a cause, or symptom, of damp. Black mould may also develop on wooden and PVC window frames, and silicone sealant used around the edge of frames.
  • Bathrooms and kitchens – Look at the grouting and sealant for signs of black mould. Check around window frames and on ceilings for similar damage. Look inside cabinets and cupboards to see if there are any areas of staining and mould growth and pay attention to musty smells.
  • Furniture and soft furnishings – Black mould can grow on the inside of curtains, blinds and on upholstered surfaces such as sofas. Check the back of furniture for specks of mould and also for cloudy condensation on wooden and plastic surfaces.
  • Basements and unheated storage spaces – A musty, damp smell is likely to be first indicator of a problem here. Whilst you’re down there, check for staining and mould on painted walls and woodwork.

Treating damp

Damp or mould stains on painted walls and ceilings

If you’ve been dealing with damp, it can be a real hassle and the last thing you want to be left with once the problem is fixed is unsightly stains on your wall or ceiling. But don’t despair, it’s a simple job.

Once the source of the damp has been fixed, allow the area to thoroughly dry out using a dehumidifier if needed. Then, treat the surface with a mould-removing treatment following the instructions on the packaging carefully.

Once the surface is free of mould and dry, it can be painted with a damp seal or stain blocker paint which will ensure that the staining does not bleed through the emulsion once completed. Once dry, touch up with the same paint used elsewhere on the wall or ceiling.

Top tip

Many mould-removing products contain bleach. Whilst this is very effective at destroying mould, it can damage fabrics and painted surfaces. Wear old clothes, eye protection and a mask when using.

Preventing damp in the first place

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to damp problems.

Here are several ways to avoid the problem:

  1. Keep on top of outdoor home maintenance
  2. Keep the home warm
  3. Make sure your home is well-ventilated
  4. Avoid producing lots of moisture
  5. Take care when cooking
  6. Remove excess moisture
  7. Choose moisture-resistant paint and wallpaper
  8. Leave room to breathe

Damp is one of the last things we want to face at home, so make sure you stay on top of it!