Signs of Rising Damp

Do you suspect your property has a rising damp problem? There are several signs that you may have noticed in your property which may point towards you having a rising damp issue. This page will help you to get a better understanding of what the key rising damp signs are. Furthermore, this page will help you to gain an understanding of the causes of these signs in your property. If you read our list of the key rising damp signs and think that rising damp is what your property is suffering from, it is still a good idea to have a professional survey of the area to be 100% certain. The correct diagnosis of your rising damp problem is extremely important to ensure that the problem is dealt with as efficiently as possible. Professional surveyors from Richardson & Starling are able to perform an extensive rising damp survey of your home and provide an accurate diagnosis of the root cause of your problem. To the untrained eye, it can be very difficult to differentiate rising damp from other types of damp such as condensation or penetrating damp.

Rising Damp Signs

However, there are some key signs which point towards your property suffering from a rising damp problem which can be identified by property owners. Knowing how to spot rising damp can help you deal with your rising damp problem swiftly.

Damp Stains and Tidemarks On Walls

One of the most common rising damp signs is tide marks being visible on walls. Tide marks are caused by damp evaporation and salt migration from the wall which has risen up the wall from the ground. These can be visible from the bottom of the wall up to around one metre above the floor. If you cannot see tidemarks, another key sign to look for is damp stains or patches on your walls. These patches tend to be brown or a dark yellow and just like tidemarks they will be prevalent from the bottom of the wall to one metre above the floor. If the damp is prominent higher than one metre up the wall this could still be the effects of rising damp however it is likely that your property is actually suffering from a penetrating damp problem. The penetrating damp could be in addition to the presence of rising damp so care must be taken in the correct diagnosis.

Damp Or Wet Patches Appearing On Walls

If your property has damp or wet patches on its walls there is a strong possibility this could be caused by rising damp. If the damp patches are only in the lower wall area and it is the ground floor of the property this could be rising damp. This is caused by the moisture from the ground at the base of your property walls rising upwards through the brick or stonework by capillary action. Rising damp will affect your property walls if there is not an effective Damp Proof Course at the base of the wall. Rising damp cannot occur on any floor of a property other than the ground floor. If the problem you are encountering is on a floor higher than the ground floor it is likely to be another type of damp problem (most likely penetrating damp or condensation).

Salts Within The Plaster | One of the Most Frequent Signs of Rising Damp

Capillary action is what allows the moisture to travel upwards through the masonry. As the moisture rises from the ground and up the wall structure, the moisture contains salts from the ground and these salts migrate into the property and affect the plaster and decoration. These salts are called Hygroscopic salts which means that they attract moisture from the atmosphere and will cause further damp problems to your wall. This can result in walls feeling damp when touched. As the moisture in the wall evaporates this brings the salts to the surface and the salts can sometimes be seen as a white deposit on the surface. If your damp wall is caused by rising damp you wall will also be affected by damp caused by Hygroscopic salts and these must also be dealt with during the remedial works to fix your rising damp problem.

Peeling Wallpaper Or Paint

Another of the key signs of rising damp is peeling wallpaper or paint. As a result of continuing damp issues, the levels of moisture within your walls will increase as a result. More moisture can cause wallpaper or paint to peel away from the wall. This can be most noticeable around the skirting board or in the lower section of the wall. In these circumstances, wallpaper will tend to come loose just above the skirting board first with the edges of the wallpaper curving away from the wall. However, peeling wallpaper or paint can also potentially point towards a condensation or penetrating damp issue within the property and therefore an accurate diagnosis is necessary to ensure that the appropriate repair specification to solve the problem is actioned.

Flaky Or Bubbling Plaster

If you have flaky or bubbling plaster, crumbling plaster or powdery deposits on wall surfaces near to the ground floor this suggests that your property could be suffering from a damp problem which may be rising damp. The moisture from rising damp can cause the plaster on walls to deteriorate and weaken significantly and sometimes fall off the wall. This can end up causing obvious aesthetic damage to the decorated and plastered walls in your property, which can prove to be very costly for the property owners if not rectified as soon as possible.

Rotting Skirting Boards And Flooring

If the rising damp issue in your property has been left untreated for a considerable amount of time, skirting boards and floorboards may begin to rot. This is due to excess moisture affecting the timbers causing germination of a fungal attack. Like so many types of damp, rising damp can trigger a rot attack to the timbers which it comes into direct contact with. Property owners should look out for skirtings and other timbers that are showing signs of cracking or which can easily crumble when touched. Visible fungus growing on the skirting boards or flooring timbers may also be evident where long term damp has affected the property.

Damp and Musty Smell

One of the easiest damp signs to spot is through the distinct smell of damp within the property. Even if you cannot see damp in your property you will often be able to smell it. Damp often has a distinct smell which is often described as an unpleasant, musky and moist smell. However, if you cannot visibly see evidence of damp on the property fabric it may be difficult to diagnose the type of damp affecting the property and therefore you may require the help of a Specialist Damp Surveyor. Different types of damp require different treatments so, in order to treat your damp problem as efficiently as possible, it is crucial it is diagnosed accurately.

Black Mould

Black mould becoming prevalent in the lower portions of your wall is clearly an obvious sign that that area is suffering from damp. Where black mould is present this means that you have a condensation problem however If the issue occurs on the lower portion of the ground floor walls then this could also indicate that your property could suffer from rising or penetrating damp and this would require to be investigated.

Rusting Iron And Steel Fasteners

Exposure to excess levels of moisture for an extended period of time will result in rust occurring in unprotected iron and steel. Iron and steel fasteners losing their stability as a result of rust can cause the property to become considerably less secure. The structural integrity of the property can become seriously impacted as a result of fasteners such as cavity wall ties in the property’s rusting and no longer being effective.

Crumbling Bricks and Mortar Between Bricks

Rising damp can seriously affect both the internal and external surface of ground floor walls. Crumbling bricks and mortar can be costly to fix. Loose or crumbling bricks or mortar caused by rising damp can become very porous and result in allowing penetrating damp through the masonry which can result in further damage being caused to interior walls. Fortunately, deteriorating bricks or mortar can be easy to spot and the deterioration is sometimes known as fretting. When inspecting your external brickwork or stonework check how the cement joints are. If you notice any crumbling or powdery mortar or breakdown of the brick surface this is a strong indication that your brickwork is fretting caused by moisture and salt deposits. In the more advanced stages, mortar could be almost entirely missing from the joints.

Misdiagnosis Of Rising Damp

It is crucial that people are aware that rising damp signs can only occur on the ground floor of properties which do not have an effective Damp Proof Course. This is because rising damp is caused by moisture from the external soil rising up the walls resulting in damp issue to your property fabric. If your damp issue is on the first floor or above, it is likely you are encountering either a penetrating damp, plumbing leak or condensation problem.

Rising damp can be commonly misdiagnosed. To the untrained eye, there are numerous damp signs which indicate a different damp problem and not rising damp. For example, many property owners will see a tidemark on their wall and assume they have a rising damp issue. Before diagnosing your property with a rising damp problem, it is crucial you ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have faulty plumbing?
  • Does your property have a Damp-Proof Course installed? Was it within the last 20 years?
  • Are your gutters clean or are they clogged up?
  • Is your guttering and downpipes faulty or leaking?
  • Do you have defecting pointing?
  • Are there visible cracks in your brickwork or stonework?
  • Is it a condensation problem? Read more about condensation here.

Any of these issues within your property could be misdiagnosed as rising damp and require different property repair remedial works to solve the problem.

Rising Damp Treatment

Prior to undertaking any treatment, our specialist damp surveyor will carry out an extensive damp survey of the affected area. This allows them to diagnose exactly what type of damp problem your property is suffering from and will then specify the appropriate works to solve the damp problem. Our specialist technicians will carry out the remedial work in a timely and cost-efficient manner. The type of rising damp remedial works is dependent on the property type and conditions. This may require stripping wall fabric, repairing the existing DPC or installing a new DPC.If the existing DPC has failed, our specialists will install an entirely new damp proofing system. A chemical DPC can often be the most cost-effective way of tacking a rising damp issue. The object of this system is to form a continuous layer of a waterproof material which acts as a barrier blocking the path of moisture from the ground which is trying to rise up the masonry walls. Normally, this procedure will involve small holes being drilled in the wall to allow the installation of the new DPC material which is fed into the holes to protect the walls from rising damp. All plasterwork which has been affected by rising damp and hygroscopic salts must be stripped. This is to ensure that the salt contaminated areas of the plaster have been removed. After the installation of the new DPC, the wall can then be plastered with renovating plaster to stop further salt migration. Sometimes a waterproof cavity wall membrane may be installed prior to re-plastering to deal with salt migration and allow the wall plaster to dry quicker.If you feel intimidated by all of this you shouldn’t worry. Our specialists have been delivering property damp solutions since 1935. We will be able to diagnose your property damp issue, determine the most appropriate and cost-effective solution for your property’s particular damp problem and give you a long-term guarantee on the remedial work for your peace of mind.Not sure what is causing damp in your home? Contact your local branch for advice or a property survey to regain your peace of mind.