Rising damp is a common problem that many property owners have to deal with at some point or another. Coping with damp can be stressful for many home and commercial building owners, especially if the problem has gone undetected for a long period of time. If left unchecked and untreated, damp can cause myriad problems – including structural damage.
What could be a simple repair could become a costly and more complicated building restoration, so rising damp is something you want to detect as early as possible. Here, we’ve created a guide to identifying rising damp, preventing the issue and combating it before the problem gets worse. Read on for more information.
What is rising damp?
Firstly, let’s answer the question: what is rising damp? It’s a term you may have heard lots of times before, but may never have fully understood. Rising damp is a type of moisture damage that affects the walls of a building. Moisture from the ground travels up through the wall and spreads through tiny pockets of air – known as capillaries – in the bricks, timber, insulation and any other porous building materials used. Rising damp may even reach heights of 1.2 metres or higher.
Moisture may build up as a result of poor weather, flooding, condensation or pipe leaks, and when left untreated, can cause significant damage to the walls of a building.
Identifying rising damp
Spotting the telltale signs of rising damp quickly is key to preventing the issue from getting worse. Below, we’ve listed some of the main signs that your home is dealing with rising damp:
- Damp or wet patches on the wall: This is one of the most obvious signs. If you’ve spotted damp or wet patches on the wall, there’s probably an internal moisture build-up to deal with.
- Lifting wallpaper or peeling paint: Look out for cosmetic damage. Peeling paint or wallpaper could be a sign of water behind the walls.
- Tide marks: Tide marks are horizontal streaks that can appear in walls to indicate where damp has risen and then evaporated. As the moisture and salt evaporate, streaky brown or yellow lines remain.
- An unpleasant odour: Noticed an unfamiliar odour coming from your walls? This could also be a sign of rising damp.
- Rotting skirting boards: Over time, damp skirting boards can begin to rot. This is where rising damp originates, so rotting timber boards could be a sign of a significant moisture build-up.
If you’ve spotted any – or a combination – of these signs, it’s time to call a damp specialist. You may be dealing with rising damp, which is important to combat as soon as possible.
Issues caused by rising damp
Leaving rising damp undetected and untreated could cause lots of problems. As the name suggests, rising damp travels through building materials. As it isn’t localised, it can spread and cause damage to window frames, door frames and the ceiling. Some of the main issues include:
- Cosmetic damage: As we’ve mentioned, rising damp can cause paint and wallpaper to peel. Dirty groundwater can also stain the walls with tide marks, causing cosmetic damage that can become costly to repair.
- Health issues: If left untreated, rising damp can cause black mould to develop. This has been linked to health issues, especially for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma.
- Structural damage: One of the most serious consequences of untreated rising damp is structural damage. If timber joists and beams begin to rot or bricks start to crumble as a result of a moisture build-up, the structural integrity of your home or building will be vulnerable.
Here are just three consequences of rising damp, but there are many more. With this in mind, you’ll want to prevent the development of damp in the first place – and you’ll certainly want to combat the issue if it does develop. Below, we list our five top tips for preventing and combating rising damp:
Five tips to prevent and combat rising damp
Prevention is key, but if it’s too late for that, you’ll need to take action. Here are five tips to help you avoid rising damp in the first place and advice for dealing with it quickly and effectively, should it infect your property.
Keep your property well-ventilated and heated
Keeping your property well-ventilated and heated is the first step to avoiding rising damp and other issues caused by moisture build-ups. If the property remains cold, any moisture inside will condense due to a difference in temperature. If people are moving around inside, generating heat, but the building itself remains cold, condensation will form on the windows and walls. If the property is heated properly, however, the risk of condensation forming is lower. Over time, a build-up of condensation can leave walls susceptible to damp.
Additionally, keeping your property well-ventilated is key to preventing a build-up of condensation and protecting your walls against rising damp. Opening the windows and airing out the property frequently will dry out moisture build-ups before they develop, which is key to combating damp.
Keep your roof, windows and doors well-maintained
This is another crucial step towards combating rising damp. Damaged roofs, windows and doors can let moisture into a property – even when you’ve kept the windows and doors closed – which over time can become a problem. When it rains, broken roof shingles and cracked window frames can let more moisture in than you might realise. Once moisture leaks into wall cavities or begins to pool near skirting boards, your walls become vulnerable to rising damp.
If you’ve spotted damage to your roof, windows or door frames, make sure to get them repaired immediately. A leaking roof could be the difference between a structurally sound property and one plagued by rising damp.
Repair leaking pipes or blocked drains
Rising damp can develop in properties due to plumbing issues, so if you’ve spotted the telltale signs of a leaking pipe or blocked drain, it’s time to call a plumber. If water begins to leak into wall cavities or between floorboards, moisture can be drawn up through the wall’s capillaries and cause myriad problems. Rising damp as a result of poor plumbing is a very common issue, so make sure you have any problems with your pipes or drains repaired as soon as they’re identified.
Inspect and remove debris from wall cavities
Another step towards preventing rising damp in a property is to remove debris from wall cavities. Wall cavity debris, such as damaged cavity wall insulation, can trap moisture and make ventilation difficult. This is especially common after bouts of bad weather and high rainfall. Over time, a combination of trapped moisture and a lack of ventilation can make your building’s walls susceptible to rising damp.
Inspecting and cleaning wall cavities isn’t something you should attempt yourself. Always make sure to contact a specialist if you believe this is the cause of your rising damp problem.
Combat rising damp with damp proofing
Damp proofing is the most effective way to combat rising damp within a property by blocking moisture from passing through wall capillaries. There are lots of different damp proofing methods used by specialists, from damp-proof courses (DPCs) to damp-proof membranes (DPMs), each with a common purpose: to prevent moisture from seeping into properties.
To prevent rising damp, a DPC is typically used. A damp-proof course is a barrier laid by damp specialists which blocks water rising through capillary action. In effect, it is a protective layer which prevents moisture from rising. Most properties have been built with DPCs, but if the DPC in your property has failed, it may be time for remedial action. A remedial damp-proof course will provide your property’s built-in DPC with extra protection by blocking moisture from rising above it. There are three main types of remedial damp-proof courses: injections, chemical and electro-osmotic DPCs.
If your property has rising damp, you should call damp proofing specialists immediately. They’ll be able to talk you through your options and choose the most appropriate damp proofing method for your circumstances. At North Yorkshire Remedials, we understand just how important specialist advice can be for property owners dealing with rising damp, which is why we’re proud to help customers in Ripon and beyond with our damp proofing treatments.
North Yorkshire Remedials: Damp experts offering high-quality damp treatment in Ripon and beyond
If you’re looking for damp proofing services in Ripon, Harrogate, Tadcaster or elsewhere in Yorkshire, then you needn’t look further than North Yorkshire Remedials. Whether you’re dealing with rising damp or you want to protect your home from damp-related issues in the future, North Yorkshire Remedials is here for you. Our modern treatment solutions, which include electro-osmotic and chemical injection damp control methods, are designed to protect properties from the issues caused by moisture build-ups, and can be implemented on your property efficiently, safely and cost-effectively.
For more information about our damp cure treatments or any other services we offer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of experts today. We also specialise in dry and wet rot treatment, woodworm treatment, basement tanking services and more.