Home Property Investment What Is Rising Dampness and How Do You Treat It?

What Is Rising Dampness and How Do You Treat It?

rising damp on walls
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Rising dampness has been a source of contention for both builders and households for decades. Older homes and modern ones that may not have been designed adequately are frequently affected by this condition, which may be severe. The presence of rising dampness in a structure can result in various issues. Rising dampness may substantially impact the integrity and value of a house and the effectiveness of superficial interventions.

What is rising damp?

In the construction industry, rising dampness gets described as the upward movement of water through a porous wall structure, with moisture originating from groundwater. Humidity increases through capillaries in the brickwork by what is known as ‘capillarity,’ which causes the brick to function like a taper, causing it to act as a wick. It is important to note that the severity of rising dampness depends on several elements, including the degree of groundwater present, the pore structure of the masonry materials used, and the pace at which water evaporates away from the wall surface. It frequently necessitates treatment since it has a variety of negative consequences on the performance of building structures. 

rising damp wall paper becoming free
Wall Paper coming free

Most of the time, increasing dampness is discovered when it causes harm to the inside walls of a structure. Plaster and paint are susceptible to deterioration, and any wallpaper tends to come free. When groundwater has reached the wall’s surface, a visible stain in the shape of a tide mark is frequently evident on the wall. It’s possible to notice salts blossoming on the inside cover as well. It is commonly related to rising humidity and will result in paints and even plasterwork debonding if not addressed immediately. The masonry on the outside of the house may disintegrate, and white salt stains may emerge on the walls. Towards the end of this article, we will go through the most prevalent signs of growing damp in greater depth.

What causes rising dampness?

Through a process known as “capillarity,” moisture from the ground is “sucked” into the porous building materials from which walls are formed, causing rising damp to develop. Most structures have some barrier constructed at the lower wall level to prevent water from coming up in this method. A damp-proof course is what this gets referred to as. Depending on the period the property got constructed, it can be built of non-absorbent, water-resistant materials like plastic, bitumen, and slate. The DPCs may fail with time, and in older homes, they may not even be there at all, which is a severe problem. If you do not have a DPC, or there is evidence that it has failed, nothing can get done to prevent the water from traveling up the wall. 

damp rising up wall with black mould

When you know that your damp-proof route has gotten bridged, you can attempt to alter or remove whatever is resulting in the bridge. If the bridge is removed or isolated to keep it away from the damp-proof course, rising damp will not be able to penetrate and damage the wall above an efficient damp-proof approach.

In situations where you are unable to remove the object that is creating the breach in your DPC or if your DPC is not functioning correctly, you may be required to install a whole new waterproof membrane or damp-proof course to your walls to prevent further damage. To fix the damp problem in your house, you should hire an expert surveyor who can assess the situation and offer good specifications. It may be the first time a Damp Proof Course has been built on your home or installing a chemical damp proof course may be necessary to fix an existing faulty DPC.

What are the signs of rising dampness?

One of the most prominent symptoms of rising dampness is the presence of tidal markings on the walls of a building. Tide markings are created by the evaporation of moisture and the migration of salt from the wall, which has risen the wall from the ground to the water’s surface. Wet spots or patches on your walls should be a significant indicator if you cannot observe tidemarks. These patches are often brown or dark yellow, and they will be widespread from the bottom of the wall, precisely like tidemarks. However, if the damp is visible more than one meter up the wall, your house probably has a damp problem rather than the impacts of rising dampness. Because the presence of penetrating wet might be in addition to rising damp, caution must get exercised in making the proper diagnosis. Other signs of rising damp include:

1. BLACK MOULD
black mould on wall and skirting board
Black Mould

If you detect black mold growing over your skirting board, it indicates a moisture problem in the surrounding region. It is especially true if there is no additional black mold in the house and the black mold you observe is restricted to the area between the skirting board and the ceiling, which can be up to one meter above the floor.

2. SALTS WITHIN THE PLASTER

Fluffy deposits indicate the presence of salts in the plaster in the plaster. Another symptom of growing humidity is a musty odor. They have washed away from bricks and into plaster, causing what seems to be blistering areas on walls to appear.

3. CORRODED BRICKS AND MORTAR 

Brick is an exceptionally durable construction material, but it can begin to rust if exposed to water for an extended time or if the moisture problem is not immediately addressed after it occurs. The mortar used between the bricks is also susceptible to losing its adhesive capabilities and becoming crumbly.

4. MUSTY ODOR 

When there is rising dampness, even if the indications and symptoms aren’t clear or visible, you may frequently smell damp or a musty odor in the surrounding environment.

5. DECAYED SKIRTING BOARDS
Black Mould on Ceiling
Ceiling decay

Like many other types of dampness, rising dampness can cause rot in the wood that it comes into touch with when it is present. Keep an eye out for broken or readily crumbling skirtings and fungus growing on or creeping out of the side of the house or building. Additionally, keep an eye out for cracked or peeling paint.

6. TOUCH THE WALL

Run your hands on the place you expect to have rising damp. A mysterious ‘crunching’ sound might get heard on your walls if you have wallpaper on them due to the salts getting taken up from the earth. Then, if at all feasible, look at the exposed surface of the brickwork or stonework. Remember that rising damp only happens on bottom floor levels since it is moisture from the soil that is being dragged upwards by gravity and causing the rising damp problem to manifest itself. If you have a sticky situation on the first level or higher, you may have a condensation issue or a penetrating damp problem.

Rising damp treatment

Rising dampness might manifest itself in the form of symptoms on the exterior and external walls. It is frequently possible to resolve difficulties produced by increased ground levels by removing extra soil below the damp-proof course; this would be the case if a raised flower bed were the problem.

Most property owners recognize a rising damp problem when they notice damp patches or a tide mark of moisture on their inside walls, among other signs. To begin treating increasing dampness on interior walls, specialists will need to elevate the skirting boards surrounding the afflicted area and remove any plaster that has been contaminated by hygroscopic salts, among other things. 

Although they are not always required, damp-proof membranes can be used to support a chemical DPC injection in some situations. These membranes may be inserted immediately following the injection or repair of a damp-proof course and used as a key for any new plaster. The barrier will keep any new plaster free from existing salts and other impurities on the walls and ceilings.

The most frequent and successful method to remedy rising dampness is to build a remedial damp-proof course, which is accomplished by inoculating a damp-proof water-repellent cream into the grout bed joint of the damaged walls. Rising water should get treated in this manner to guarantee that the walls of your home return to their original dry state. Before implementing any remedies, it is critical to diagnose the situation accurately. A failing, damaged, or missing damp course is the sole condition that can result in rising dampness is an issue. Alternatively, if there is dampness in your house, but the DPC is in good condition, the leading cause is likely to be damp, such as penetrating damp, mold, or condensation moister.

Rising Damp Treatment

DIY Treatments

Buy a dehumidifier

If the contents of a home are left unattended for an extended time, they can quickly become harmed if they absorb and retain excessive moisture from the air. Similarly, homes that seem constantly wet owing to their position (for example, those constructed against the slope of a hill) or age are not exempt from this rule. When a humidifier is used, it will lower the amount of humidity in the air by pulling air from the room at one end, removing any moisture from the air, and blowing it back into the room again, providing warmth.

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Ultrasonic cool mist humidifier
Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
Install insulation

Proper insulation is equally crucial, especially if you have chilly places in your walls where condensation might accumulate. Cavity walls, lofts, and other types of specialized insulation can help battle moisture; however, it can also create humidity in rare situations, so always check with an expert before beginning any renovation project. You could also think about upgrading drafty old doors and windows with double or triple glazing to keep the heat in.

Ensure ventilation

Simple measures like opening a window for at least ten minutes each morning can help to ventilate your house. It’s much better if you have windows that can be locked in a slightly open position while not in use. If you have a growing dam in a particular room, consider installing air bricks. These are bricks with several small holes in them, and they may get used on the outside of walls to enable air to move through under a suspended wooden floor. They were formerly constructed of clay but are now more typically manufactured of plastic to save on costs. Plastic bricks provide improved ventilation and are less likely to break than concrete bricks. These measures will prevent wet and moisture from ruining the floors in the long run.

Suppose you attempt to ‘top up’ an existing damp-proof course. In that case, this is not recommended since you want a continuous waterproof layer without interruptions, which this remedy does not provide. As a result, you might be wasting your time. You must first identify the source of the problem, deal with it, and then make the required repairs to deal with the consequences. Carrying out a short cure for increasing damp will only increase the project’s cost in the long run and the likelihood of having to redo the job entirely at a later date. If you’ve determined that your increasing damp results from a clogged cavity wall, you’ll need to unclog the cavity.

Conclusion

Damp walls get frequently misdiagnosed as a result. It can be challenging to distinguish between the several types of dampness that your home may be experiencing to the untrained eye. It is critical to analyze the source of the moisture properly, as an incorrect diagnosis might result in extra damage and excessive money being wasted. As a result, if you are in any question about the sort of damp problem you are experiencing, it is strongly suggested that you consult with professionals who will ensure that your wet issue is appropriately addressed.

It is critical to carefully determine what causes rising damp before defining the suitable remedial treatment for rising damp to ensure that the damp gets adequately treated. One of the most common mistakes that homeowners make when dealing with growing sticky concerns is attempting to perform a fast repair to remedy their wet problem. It is unnecessary to paint over noticeable moisture to fix the damp problem; instead, it is necessary to address the cause of the humidity problem, which will cost you more money for a cosmetic repair.

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I am passionate about helping individuals create wealth through property investments. I am the co-founder, mentor and financial writer at WatuDaily, specialising in property investment, business advice and personal money matters. I was previously a financial adviser for over 15 years and it is on that high that I wish to share my knowledge and experiences and channel them towards a vision and purpose of helping others to realise and achieve their financial goals through my publications. As a financial adviser, I won a number of industry awards for the outstanding contribution I made to my clients and peers. I hold a Bachelor of Applied Finance degree and a Master of Commerce in Accounting and Finance degree. In my spare time, I enjoy travelling and staying active through playing sport.