What is damp?

Does insurance cover damp?

Moisture and mould on wall

In this article we will look at the three most common types of damp and whether insurance covers this.
These are:

  • Rising damp
  • Penetrating damp
  • Condensation

The treatment of the damp depends on the type of damp you have.  The costs to fix the issues can vary.  If the cause of the damp is left untreated then the repair costs may increase because it has been left and it has got worse.

Rising damp

This is exactly as the name suggests.  The damp starts at ground level and starts to creep up the wall.  A damp-proof course or membrane usually stops the damp from coming into the property to affect the floors or walls.

A damp-proof membrane is a sheet which is laid underneath the floor and does not allow water to pass through.  It should be connected to the damp-proof course and the house is protected from ground water.

A damp-proof course is a waterproof strip, usually plastic or bitumen.  It is built into the wall at least 15 cm above ground level.

Newer properties will have both of these because they are part of the building regulations in England and Wales.  Older buildings may not have them because they may have been built before regulations came into force in 1875.  In older properties they have become worn or damaged over time.  If this has happened, then your floor or walls may suffer from rising damp.

Rising damp may also happen when the ground level outside is higher than the level of your damp-proof course which allows water to get in above the course.  It may also happen if you have a lack of drainage at the property.

Potential signs of rising damp

The plaster is damp, and your skirting boards may be damaged because the wood has started to soak in water.

The wallpaper may start coming away from the wall or the paint may start to peel.

You might see tide marks going up the wall as the level has risen.

Your floor coverings might lift if water has started to come through the floor.

You might see white on the wall and this is because of soluble salts which have dissolved in the water.

Penetrating damp

This is caused by water leaking through wall.  The damp may go across your walls and ceiling and travels horizontally.

It may be caused by structural issues such as an issue with your gutters or roofing, or you may have a crack in your wall.  They allow water to penetrate during heavy rainfall.  It could also be caused by a leaking pipe.

This type of damp tends to occur more in older buildings where the wall is solid.  In newer properties they tend to have cavity walls which offers some protection from this.

Potential sign of penetrating damp

You may notice damp patches on ceilings or walls, and these may darken when it rains.

Condensation

This is the most common type of damp.  It mainly occurs in winter when the walls are colder than the air inside.  Central heating warms the air, and it cools again.  This can create damp, warm air that may condense.

A lack of ventilation may make the issue worse.  If you use a shower and do not open the window this will allow condensation to build.  If it is not cleared, then you will find issues and eventually may become mouldy.

Potential signs

Black or dark mould is usually spotted on glass or around windows first.

A mouldy smell in the property.

Drops of water on windows.

If you have condensation in your property you may consider purchasing a dehumidifier.  A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air and can help to alleviate the problem.  You cannot place a dehumidifier in a bathroom, and you will need to empty the water container on a regular basis because this can fill very quickly.

Does home insurance cover damp?

An insurance policy is there to cover one-off unforeseen events.

A policy usually covers the following events as standard:

Storm

Flood

Water or oil escaping from fixed water or heating systems

Theft or attempted theft

Fire, explosion, lightning, earthquake

Being hit by vehicles, aircraft, flying objects and animals

Subsidence or heave of the site on which the home stands, or landslip

Vandalism or malicious acts

Falling trees or branches

Falling TV aerials, radio aerials, satellite dishes and their fittings

As far as we are aware there are no standard home insurance policies which cover damp.   This is because damp and mould build up over a period of time and therefore is not a one-off event.  An example of a one-off event is gusts of wind of 55 mph or above.  These cause tiles to be blown off the roof.

Policy wordings usually have exclusions, and two examples would be:

We will not cover any damage caused gradually.

We will not cover gradually occurring damage or wear and tear.

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