A guide to reducing damp, condensation and mould in your home

About damp mould and condensation

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What is damp and what causes it?

Damp is caused by too much moisture in a room. There’s always moisture in the air, but normally you cannot see it. When there’s too much it can cause damp and mould to form and spread and this can be a problem in homes for a variety of reasons.

If you notice damp, mould or water marks in your home it may be caused by an issue with the building, such as a leaking pipe or roof, or damaged guttering.

Over time, it can affect your health, so it’s important to treat it and stop it spreading. If you spot signs of it in your home, tell us as soon as possible edinburgh.gov.uk/damp

Main causes of damp

  • Leaking pipes and roofs.
  • Rainwater getting into your home.
  • Damaged or blocked drains and guttering.
  • Rising damp.
  • Damaged outside walls.
  • Condensation.
  • Poorly installed decking or garden items against walls.

Letting your home breathe

When moisture in the air comes into contact with cold surfaces, such as windows and walls, it can cause condensation.

This is completely normal and most likely to happen in colder rooms.

However, if the moisture builds up and is not able to escape the room,

then it can become a major problem.

Causes of condensation

  • Producing a lot of moisture for example steam in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Not enough ventilation so moist air cannot escape.
  • Not enough heating.

When is condensation a problem?

  • When it builds up on a surface it can cause damp to form and mould to grow.
  • The most common places for it to happen are on walls (especially in corners and behind furniture), ceilings, window frames and sills.
  • It can also affect clothes, curtains, bedding, wardrobes and furniture and if it’s left untreated, it can cause severe damp, which could be harmful to you and your family’s health.

Top tips

  • Use window vents. They allow moisture to escape without making the room cold.
  • Use extractor fans. If you have one in your kitchen or bathroom, use it when cooking, bathing or doing laundry.
  • Cover pans with lids when cooking. This prevents the steam escaping.
  • Avoid drying clothes on radiators. Dry them outside if you can or on a drying rack.
  • Open windows and shut the doors in rooms where you’re cooking, bathing or drying clothes (dry clothes outside if you can).
  • Leave gaps between furniture and the walls so air can circulate.
  • Air rooms by opening windows aim for at least ten minutes a day before turning the heating on.
  • Heat rooms above 15 degrees celsius if you can.
  • Vent tumble dryers to the outside if possible or buy a DIY ‘self-condensing’ dryer kit.
  • Air rooms, cupboards and wardrobes regularly. Avoid putting too much in cupboards and wardrobes as it stops air circulating.

Extractor fans

If you have an extractor fan, it’s really important that you use it properly. They’re very cheap to run (typically less than 1p an hour*).

When bathing or cooking, switch on the fan as soon as you start (some start automatically). Then close the door behind you. The fan will draw moisture from the room. Some fans are designed to be constantly running and should not be disconnected.

Check it

If you have an extractor fan in your kitchen or bathroom do this quick test to check it’s working properly.

  1. Turn the fan on.
  2. Place a sheet of toilet paper on the front of the fan.
  3. If the paper sticks to the front of the fan when you remove your hand the fan is working, if the paper falls to the floor, then it’s not working effectively.
  4. If it’s not working, get in touch and we’ll fix it.

Prevent extra moisture by avoiding these things

It can sometimes be hard to keep our homes warm and we can make damp and mould issues worse when trying to fix heat and air flow problems.


  • Sealing up rooms that already have a condensation or mould problem.
  • Adding extra sealant to windows in kitchens and bathrooms without small vents or extractor fans.
  • Blocking up air bricks in walls or little vents in windows. These help your home breathe.

Did you know?

Everyday activities create moisture inside homes. Here are some examples of how much moisture could be produced in one day.

Pints of condensation generated by household activities

  • Two people at home for 16 hours produces up to two pints
  • Drying clothes indoors produces up to nine
  • Cooking and using a kettle produces up to six pints
  • Washing dishes produces up to two pints
  • Taking a bath or shower produces up to two pints

How we can help

Tell us if you spot damp or mould or something needs fixed in your home such as fans, windows, leaking pipes and heating not working.

When you tell us there’s damp or mould in your home we promise to

  • gather as much information as possible from you so we can assess the situation
  • give you the name of a person that will look after your case
  • keep you updated on what happens next
  • do a damp survey in your home if it’s needed and let you know the results
  • organise any repairs, including fixing emergency issues like leaks
  • put right any damage
  • check you’re happy with what we’ve done.

How to get in touch

The quickest and easiest way to report damp is on our website damp or you can call us on 0131 200 2345.

If your repair is an emergency, it’s something that needs to be fixed quickly because it’s a danger to health or safety and you should call us on 0131 200 2345.

Find out more about emergency repairs

Keeping costs down

We understand that the cost of living is rising and this can affect the way you heat and ventilate your home.

Find advice and tips on how to reduce your bills and where to get advice and support if you’re struggling


* Source – Centre for Sustai