Rising Damp FAQ

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What is rising damp?

If you are unfamiliar with the term rising damp, it is a phrase that describes the slow upward movement of water from the ground in the lower sections of walls and other ground-supported structures, by capillary action.

Worst cases of rising damp have been reported to be 5 metres in height! In most cases, however, the height of rising damp is typically much lower and will rise to about one metre.

Rising damp has affected the structures of buildings since the first construction. Rising damp, like other forms of dampness, is often misdiagnosed in buildings. This is one of the reasons why it is important to take advice from a property care specialist.

Rising damp takes place when water from the ground travels upwards through the pore structure of building materials such as brick, sandstone, and mortar. This occurs much in the same way as oil travels upwards through the wick of a lamp. This movement is called capillarity and is due to an electrical charge drawing moisture up the wall.

Not sure if your property has rising damp? 

In severe cases Rising damp can be identified by a characteristic “tide mark”. This mark is found on the lower section of affected walls where the rising damp is drying out through the plaster.

Rising damp also brings nitrate and chloride salts up from the ground. These salts are called Hygroscopic which means the salts absorb moisture from the air. A tide mark starts to appear as the salts migrate to the surface creating marks on the wall surface and can damage the property plaster and decoration. These marks appear because of evaporation, the salts begin to accumulate on the surface and start to draw moisture from the atmosphere which adds to the moisture from the ground. Get in touch with our damp proofing Scotland team for help on identifying rising damp.

What does rising damp look like, what are the symptoms?

There are several ways you can spot the signs of rising damp. Each property is different and may have just one of the following symptoms:

  • Wallpaper becoming unstuck from the wall
  • Paint won’t stick to the surface of the walls
  • Stains at the bottom of your walls
  • “Tidemarks” on the surface of the walls
  • Flaking plaster
  • White powder/crystals have begun to appear on the walls
  • Visible damp or wet patches
  • Crumbling mortar on the exterior of the building
  • Rusting steel and iron fasteners

If you have noticed any of the following signs in your property, we advise that you call a member of the Richardson and Starling team ASAP.

If the damp marks in your property are higher than 1.0 metre, then there may also be a penetrating damp or condensation problem within your home or office. There may be more than one form of damp affecting your wall and this requires be diagnosed properly.

The first step to getting rid of your damp problem is calling Richardson and Starling. Our team can eradicate and prevent further damp problems within your building’s structure.

What causes rising damp?

Your property should be fitted with a damp proof course (DPC) which stops rising damp from the ground. This type of damp is a result of ground water breaching your damp proofing course and rising up the walls of your building. This is known as capillary action. Rising Damp can occur where a DPC has been fitted in the wall but has been bridged by high ground level or your existing damp-proof course has broken down.

If left untreated, rising damp can cause extreme damage to the structure of your property. The cost of damp-proofing will be small in comparison to repairing your home interior and exterior fabric that you may have to replace. Rising damp can destroy decoration, plaster and can cause rot to the timber within your home. For example, a raised flower bed against a wall might result in soil being piled up above the level of the DPC. In this example, moisture from the ground would bridge the DPC and could then penetrate and rise up the walls of your property from the soil level.

Such a damp problem could be rectified by simply lowering the flower bed to below the DPC level. Many damp proof courses are deteriorating due to age and failures to the DPC can happen at any point along the wall.

Has your home already been damp-proofed? In some cases, damp can be caused when a damp barrier becomes damaged or has not been installed properly and this is not uncommon. A member of our team will also look at other factors that may be causing the problem. Our team have years of experience working in property care and will look at factors such as leaking gutters, downpipes, and condensation. Continue reading about rising damp causes.

How high can rising damp go?

In practice Rising damp can generally reach the height of 1.0m above the ground level however for various reasons the damp can go higher. If you are worried about rising damp within your property, it is advised that you contact a specialist as soon as possible. One of our team can visit your property to determine if Rising Damp does affect your wall and the exact height of the problem.

How to fix a rising damp problem?

Rising damp should always be treated by a specialist. At Richardson and Starling, we have over eight decades of experience treating all forms of damp. We have fixed many properties that have faced problems with rising damp. Please look at our reviews and see what our customers have said!

In most cases, rising damp is caused by bridging of the damp proof course or a breakdown of the existing DPC. Buildings that are over 70 years’ old are extremely susceptible to the dangers of damp as their existing DPC and fabric may be deteriorating and not able to stop damp entering the property. If you are the owner of an older property there are a wide range of possible solutions available, that can help you eliminate the risk of damp.

How to prevent rising damp?

If you are concerned about damp affecting your property, Richardson and Starling can help damp proof your property. Making sure your property has a fully operational damp proof course in place, will eliminate the chances of rising damp, an investment that is extremely worthwhile in the long run.

After reading this, rising damp – may be a phrase that you want to avoid. No prospective buyer wants to hear that the property they are investing in has damp problems, therefore, investing in damp proofing should be at the top of your property care priorities.

In most cases, if your property was constructed after 1875, it was most likely built with a protective damp-proof course. If you own a property which dates back longer than this, it might not have this protective barrier. If you do suspect a case of rising damp in your property, we would advise that you speak to a specialist ASAP.

By arranging a property survey with Richardson and Starling, we firstly assess the damp condition and damage to your property using our professional damp meters and applying our surveyors experience. We then advice the appropriate remedial treatment required to suit your property to solve the damp problem.

Call a member of our damp proofing team at your local Richardson and Starling branch today for advice and begin the diagnosis and treatment of your damp problem. Our team can help you with the following treatments:

  • Install a replacement damp-barrier within your property.
  • Injection of a liquid or cream chemical damp proof course (DPC Injection)
  • Injection of chemical mortar DPC
  • Electrical-osmotic systems (Non-chemical remedial DPC).

Can Rising damp cause health problems?

In most cases, if treated quickly enough, you shouldn’t be too concerned about the effects of damp. The recognisable smell and look of damp may be unpleasant, however, the health risks are minimal if dealt with quickly. It is not good for people to live in damp conditions for an extended time and the problem needs to be resolved.

If you are living or working in a property that has extreme rising damp, this may lead to an outbreak of black mould as condensation could form on the damp wall areas within your property.

If you are concerned about the growth of black mould or damp within your property contact us today for more information.

Is Rising Damp work guaranteed, covered by insurance?

We believe that every property care specialist should give their customers long term guarantees for their peace of mind. The length of the guarantee is detailed in our report and is automatically transferred to new owners. We are confident in the standard of our work that we are pleased to issue a guarantee you can trust (protected by the GPI scheme).

Richardson and Starling Guarantees

  • 30-year guarantee for the treatment of Rising Damp, Dry and Wet rot repairs and woodworm treatment.
  • 10-year guarantee for Basement Waterproofing
  • 5-year guarantee on Timber window repairs
  • We can also offer an independent insurance backed guarantee should our client require this.

Damp Proofing: What does an average damp proof course cost?

Every case of damp is different and depending on the scale and size of the problem costs to repair will vary. It is important that you have your property surveyed and an individual and specific report completed as soon as possible. Our surveyor gives a specific report with recommendations and quotation to fix the damp problem.

To make sure we are giving you an accurate price, one of our surveyors will come to your property to investigate the problem. Once your property has been assessed we will discuss the findings with you and detail the way forward.

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