Damp surveyor discussing damp issue with the house owner

How to Treat Rising Damp?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding Rising Damp: Rising damp is a unique form of moisture affecting building walls, characterized by the upward movement of groundwater through microscopic tubes in bricks, akin to a straw network. 

  • Identifying Rising Damp: Visible signs of rising damp include plaster and paint damage, wallpaper detachment, visible stains resembling tide marks, salt deposits on walls, and external mortar disintegration. 

  • Cause of Rising Damp: Rising damp is caused by the upward movement of moisture through porous construction materials like masonry, brick, or stone. 

 

It’s a big problem. Rising damp is indeed a big problem. House owners in the United Kingdom suffer every year due to this problem, and there’s no sign of it going away from the country.

Rising damp is actually one of the sneakiest damp types that surprise house owners and keep them off guard. They only know it is present in their houses once they witness the wall surfaces getting damaged or full of wet spots.

But, still, there are early signs that can tell rising damp is coming. That’s when house owners need to be proactive and call a professional to get it treated. However, that doesn’t happen every time – right? If it did, wouldn’t there be a house that had a damp issue?

But that’s not what we are talking about today. The damp is already there in your house – no matter less or more, and you are here to find a solution. So, let’s see how you can treat this rising damp issue and get rid of it.

 

Black mould stains on a wall

 

What exactly is Rising Damp?

Rising damp is a rare expression of wetness that compromises the structural integrity of building walls. Its occurrence is related to the upward migration of moisture from the ground by capillary action, in which groundwater is pushed upward through microscopic tubes in the bricks, like a straw network. This rising water transports salts, which also penetrate the wall.

The consequences of rising damp go beyond the damaged wall, affecting other porous construction components including plasterwork and the lumber used in flooring, skirtings, and joists. These materials rapidly absorb ground water, which may result in the development of damp rot within the timber.

 

Rising damp on the corner of two walls

 

Rising damp is typically identified because of the visible damage it causes to a structure’s interior and exterior walls. The repercussions may include plaster and paint damage, as well as wallpaper detachment. On the wall, a noticeable stain like a tide mark denotes the place where ground water has reached.

Furthermore, apparent salt deposits growing on the inside surface, which is frequently linked with rising damp, can cause paint separation and even the destruction of plasterwork. The mortar may disintegrate externally, resulting in the appearance of white salt streaks on the walls.

 

Mould and dampness on walls

 

What is the Cause Behind Rising Damp?

Rising damp is produced by moisture or water moving upward via porous construction materials such as masonry, brick, or stone. The capillary movement of water in porous materials is the primary source of rising damp. Capillary action occurs when water is pulled upward against gravity in small areas, such as the delicate pores and tubes found in construction materials.

Here are the leading causes of rising damp:

Failed Damp-Proof Course (DPC)

A damp-proof course is a horizontal barrier installed in the walls of a building to prevent moisture from rising. It is typically made of materials like slate, plastic, or bitumen. If the DPC is improperly installed, damaged, or has deteriorated over time, it can allow water to rise through the walls.

 

Dampness on ceiling which caused brick exposure

 

Bridging of Damp-Proof Course

Sometimes, the damp-proof course can be “bridged,” meaning that an external factor allows moisture to bypass the DPC. Common bridging factors include soil accumulation against walls, raised garden beds, or the addition of pathways that increase the ground level.

 

Complete destruction of a store room due to dampness

 

Lack of Damp-Proof Course

In older buildings, especially those constructed before the widespread use of damp-proof courses, there may be no effective barrier against rising damp.

 

Excessive peeling of plaster work of a wall due to wetness

 

Structural Defects

Cracks or defects in the structure of a building can provide pathways for water to enter and contribute to rising damp. It could include defects in the mortar, gaps around windows and doors, or other structural issues.

 

Complete peeling of paint on a wall due to dampness

 

High Groundwater Levels

Buildings located in areas with high groundwater levels or poor drainage conditions are more susceptible to rising damp. The pressure of the groundwater can force moisture to move upward through the walls.

 

Damaged wall due to excess moisture content

 

Inadequate Ventilation

Poor ventilation inside a building can contribute to rising damp. Good ventilation helps to promote the evaporation of moisture and prevent its accumulation within the walls.

 

Peeling of plaster work due to dampness

 

Porosity of Building Materials

The porosity of building materials, such as bricks and mortar, plays a significant role in the development of rising damp. Water can be drawn up through the tiny capillaries within these materials.

 

Black mould stains on an interior wall

 

How to Treat Rising Damp?

Rising damp treatment is critical for preventing building damage and maintaining a healthy living environment. Rising damp occurs when groundwater rises through porous construction materials such as bricks and mortar. Here’s a step-by-step strategy for dealing with rising damp:

Identify the Source First

Determine the source of the wetness before addressing it. A failing damp-proof course, bridging of the current damp-proof course, or other structural concerns might be to blame.

 

Rising damp on a wall affected by moisture

 

Ensure Proper Drainage

Ascertain if the drainage surrounding the structure is sufficient to deflect rainfall away from the foundations. As needed, install or repair gutters, downspouts, and drainage channels.

Repair Structural Defects

Repair any structural flaws that may be enabling water to enter the structure. It may include mending wall cracks or gaps around windows and doors.

 

Peeling of cement and plaster due to dampness

 

Install or Repair Damp-Proof Course (DPC)

A damp-proof course is a barrier that stops moisture from rising through walls. It is commonly constructed of plastic or slate. If your building does not have a DPC or the current one is damaged, consider installing a new one or fixing the old one.

Chemical Damp-Proofing

Chemical damp-proofing is done to build a barrier against increasing dampness. It is a water-repellent chemical injected into the affected walls. Typically, this is accomplished by drilling holes into the affected brickwork and injecting the chemical.

 

Dark stains and peeling of paintwork on a wall

 

Remove and Replace Damaged Plaster

Take care of any wet or damaged plaster on the affected walls. Replace it with a water-resistant rendering or plaster containing a water-resistant ingredient. It helps to keep humidity from returning.

Ventilate the Area

To facilitate drying, ensure that the affected regions have enough ventilation. If required, use dehumidifiers and open windows to increase ventilation.

 

Wall affected due to rising damp

 

Landscaping

Make sure the ground level outside is lower than the floor level inside. Consider landscaping to reduce the external ground level if necessary to prevent water from entering the structure.

Consult with Professionals

If you’re confused about the scope of the problem or the best course of action, it’s best to speak with a damp specialist. They may do an in-depth examination and propose the best solution for your individual scenario.

 

Peeling paintwork due to dampness on a wall

 

Protective Coatings

Apply water-repellent coatings or paints to the outer walls. These coatings can give internal walls an extra layer of moisture protection.

Rising Damp – A Myth or Reality

At this point, it’s worth looking into the ongoing debate over the reality of rising damp. The basic premise of this continuous debate is the common frequency of rising damp misdiagnoses.

There is a group of untrained and minimally qualified surveyors who, unfortunately, tend to misidentify growing moisture. The consequences of such incorrect diagnoses are far-reaching: treatment methods falter, making them ineffective, and the seemingly ‘damp’ situation continues.

The combination of rising damp with condensation damp is a common source of misdiagnosis, creating a frequent concern within the business. The Property Care Association’s (PCA) Practical Guide for the Investigation and Control of Dampness in Buildings, which references BS5250: 2011, provides valuable information on this subject.

 

Fluffy plasterwork due to dampness

 

A viable approach for distinguishing between condensation-induced wetness and increasing damp, according to this standard, involves assessing moisture levels inside samples of masonry, preferably mortar, collected from the depth of the wall and close to the inner surface. Notably, if surface condensation is the only source, samples from within the wall would stay dry.

In some instances, increasing moisture is correctly identified, yet repair procedures fail at the hands of professionals. It is frequently the result of a failed effort to inject a chemical damp-proof course (DPC) cream, with the poorly placed DPC becoming ineffective. Both circumstances result in disappointed and sometimes enraged clients, adding to the industry’s woes.

Therefore, it is critical to recognize that rising damp is a real and serious issue that affects homes. Its resolution needs the careful attention and experience of trained specialists.

Rising Damp on Walls – How Does It Look Like?

Rising damp first appears on walls as tidal markings that stretch upwards, sometimes reaching a height of roughly a meter above the skirting board. The elevation of water is affected by a number of elements, including the complicated pore structure of bricks and mortar, as well as the rate of evaporation.

Masonry with a higher number of fine holes allows water to rise to greater heights than constructions with fewer pores. Despite being extremely unusual, occurrences of rising damp scaling up to 1.5 meters or beyond have been observed.

 

Damaged wall and floor due to rising damp

 

Water from the ground usually contains dissolved salts, which are later deposited on the wall surface when the water evaporates. These salts, which include sulphates, which cause crusty white spots, and hygroscopic salts, such as nitrates and chlorides, help to build a white, fluffy deposit on the surface of external wall.

This complex interplay of chemical reactions not only causes paint to bubble but also introduces complexity in the form of invisible hygroscopic salts that prolong moisture absorption, demanding thorough treatment to handle these numerous issues.

What are the Signs of Rising Damp?

Rising damp, a relatively uncommon sign of wetness, demands a careful diagnosis for effective treatment. It is critical to hire a skilled damp surveyor to undertake a thorough rising damp inspection of your home, including an in-depth study of salt presence.

The complexities involved in distinguishing rising damp from other damp types, such as penetrating or condensation damp, constitute a significant problem.

Having said that, look for these signs of rising damp:

  • Salty tide marks.
  • Wet brickwork, not just damp plaster or wallpaper.
  • Dark patches on walls.
  • Peeling wallpaper, blistering paint, and stained wall coverings.
  • Musty smell of damp.
  • Discoloration and crumbling plaster.
  • Decay in timber like skirting boards, floor joists, and floor boards.

How Big of a Problem is Rising Damp?

Rising damp, or elevated moisture penetration, is a challenging condition that has the potential to grow into significant structural repercussions if not addressed. The negative repercussions extend beyond bodily injury to negative impacts on plaster, flooring, and ornamental finishes, making the living environment less than acceptable.

The smell and discomfort caused by this condition add to the difficulties of living. Aside from smell annoyances, increased damp causes health problems by worsening respiratory disorders. Furthermore, its harmful influence extends to the field of energy efficiency, causing increased heat dissipation and, as a result, an increase in energy expenditures.

Should You Buy a House with Damp?

If you are in the midst of purchasing a home and a comprehensive survey undertaken by a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)-approved surveyor reveals the possibility of rising damp, you should investigate further.

We strongly advise hiring a competent damp surveyor and damp removal expert, such as Advanced Damp Ltd., to do a thorough rising damp survey prior to closing the property acquisition.

It is critical to choose a qualified surveyor, especially one with industry-recognized professional certifications. If your property was built after the 1850s, it is customary to expect to see the presence of a Damp Proof Course (DPC), whether made of bitumen or slate.

The deterioration of this DPC is uncommon unless there has been extensive subsidence, which is a severe concern in and of it. Bridging is another potential reason for DPC failure, which is often caused by dirt or insulation within the hollow cavity wall under the DPC level.

Furthermore, exterior ground levels may have risen above the DPC level, providing a possible concern.

Who Can Help in the Treatment of Rising Damp?

If you suspect the existence of rising damp in your home or property, it is critical to confirm your suspicions by obtaining a professional evaluation. It is best to use a skilled damp surveyor, a rising damp specialist, or a damp-proofing company that understands the complexities of rising damp injection therapy.

The selected surveyor will do a complete rising damp survey, conduct an intensive analysis of the detected difficulties, and then provide a treatment plan based on their results.

It is strongly advised to use caution throughout the selection procedure by carefully examining the qualifications of possible professionals entrusted with resolving your rising damp problem.

 

Efflorescence and dampness on a wall

 

The best surveyor for the job should have nationally recognized professional credentials, especially the Certificated Surveyor in Remedial Treatments (CSRT), which includes three extensive modules, one of which is dedicated to the complex sphere of damp concerns.

Furthermore, the Certificated Surveyor in Structural Waterproofing (CSSW) is essential for professionals involved in identifying problems caused by water penetration into structures located below ground level and prescribing effective design solutions.

If you live in a leased house, it is the landlord’s exclusive obligation to deal with the problems caused by increasing moisture. It is critical that they hire a seasoned specialist to thoroughly evaluate and handle the damp problem, assuring a comprehensive assessment to rule out the likelihood of further damp symptoms.

If you are a house owner and in the midst of damp issues in your house, Advanced Damp Ltd. is here to help you out with this situation. No matter what the severity of the your damp problems is, our damp surveyors and damp removal specialists are experts in getting the job done.

Mistakes to Avoid While Treating Rising Damp

Rising damp treatment may be a complicated procedure, and it’s critical to handle it properly to achieve successful and long-lasting results. Here are some frequent blunders to avoid while dealing with growing damp:

Misdiagnosis

Mistaking other types of damp issues, such as condensation or penetrating damp, for rising damp can lead to inappropriate treatments. It’s crucial to accurately diagnose the cause of damp before implementing any solutions.

Ignoring the Source

Treating the symptoms without addressing the underlying cause can result in temporary relief but won’t provide a long-term solution. Identify and address the source of the rising damp, such as drainage issues, structural defects, or a failed damp-proof course.

DIY without Professional Assessment

Attempting to treat rising damp on internal walls without a professional assessment can lead to ineffective solutions. Consulting with a damp specialist or structural engineer is crucial to identify the extent of the issue and recommend appropriate treatments.

Inadequate Ventilation

Neglecting ventilation can hinder the effectiveness of rising damp treatments. Ensure proper ventilation in affected areas to promote drying and prevent the recurrence of rising damp problems.

Incomplete Repairs

Failing to address all structural defects or issues contributing to rising damp can result in ongoing problems. Thoroughly inspect and repair any cracks, gaps, or defects in the building’s structure.

Ignoring Landscaping

Neglecting the exterior environment can contribute to rising damp. Ensure that the ground level outside is lower than the internal floor level and address any landscaping issues that may be affecting drainage.

Poorly Executed Damp-Proof Course Installation

If installing or repairing a damp-proof course, ensure that the work is carried out by qualified professionals. Poorly executed installations can lead to further problems.

Focusing Solely on Internal Treatments

While internal treatments are necessary, addressing external factors is equally important. External measures, such as improving drainage and maintaining proper ground levels, play a crucial role in preventing rising damp.

Neglecting Regular Maintenance

Building maintenance is essential for preventing the recurrence of rising damp. Regularly monitor and maintain the treated areas, and promptly address any signs of rising damp on internal part.

Disregarding Building Regulations

Ensure that any treatments or modifications comply with local building regulations. Seek approval from the local building authority if required.

Contact Advanced Damp Ltd. for Rising Damp Treatment

Advanced Damp Ltd. possesses the prestigious Certificated Surveyors in Remedial Treatment (CSRT) designation, which reflects that our damp treatment experts have undertaken extensive training to not only meet but surpass the demanding criteria set by the Property Care Association (PCA).

That means our damp removal specialists have the knowledge and experience to thoroughly assess and handle any rising damp issues, using the most sophisticated and effective treatment technologies available in the market.

Please contact our highly trained experts at Advanced Damp Ltd. at 0300 373 7251 for individualized assistance with damp issues in your house.

 

What is the permanent solution for rising damp?

To effectively address rising damp, the best permanent solution involves a thorough damp-proofing approach. This usually includes installing a damp-proof course (DPC), which can be a physical barrier or chemical treatment to stop moisture from moving up walls. Ensuring proper drainage, sufficient ventilation, and fixing any structural problems that cause dampness are also essential for a lasting fix. Consulting with a damp specialist can help identify the specific measures required for your situation.

Is rising damp expensive to fix?

Fixing rising damp can be expensive, and the cost depends on factors like the damage extent, property type, and chosen solution. It’s crucial to address both the immediate issue and underlying causes, requiring professional assessments for accurate cost estimates. Despite the perceived expense, investing in a comprehensive solution is essential to prevent further damage and ensure the building’s longevity.

Can you dry out rising damp?

To resolve rising damp, it’s essential to eliminate the source of moisture. While temporary solutions like dehumidifiers can help, a better approach is installing a damp-proof course to stop further moisture entry. Just drying the visible signs won’t solve the issue long-term. Consulting experts is crucial to identify the right measures for your situation and ensure a lasting solution.

Jake Fitzgerald - Damp Surveyor

Jake Fitzgerald - Damp Surveyor

Surveyor of Timber & Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB) & ( MRICS ) Chartered Quantity Surveyor

Jake is a qualified chartered quantity surveyor and experienced damp specialist with a unique skill set in thermal imaging. With a focus on effective solutions, Jake combines his expertise in quantity surveying and thermal imaging to accurately assess and address damp-related issues. He utilises advanced technology to identify hidden moisture sources and develop targeted strategies, ensuring comprehensive and cost-effective solutions for his clients. With a commitment to open communication and client satisfaction, Jake delivers cutting-edge solutions that tackle damp challenges head-on.

Connect with him on Linkedin...

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