Help stamp out damp with our damp advice

17 March 2011

Damp is one of the most common problems in UK property. Ignore damp at your peril – it quickly leads to mould and mould in turn leads to rot, such as dry rot. Below are some handy pointers on some of the more common forms of dampness that are found in properties and some handy tips on what to do is you suspect you have a damp problem:

Rising Damp

As the name Rising Damp suggests, this damp rises from a water source below. The most common cause of rising damp is the breakdown of an existing damp proof course, or not having a damp proof course at all. Some older properties were built without a damp proof course at all. Blocked up chimneys, hermetically sealed windows or tight fitting doors can also cause problems.

Tips on spotting and avoiding Rising Damp

– Don’t block natural ventilation – especially in older houses.

– Ensure drains are clear- saturated soil can let water seep into the house.

– Make sure there are no large trees within 20m of the property. Roots can cause damage to drains and footings.

– Check all guttering and downpipes for blockages.

– If the property has a cellar, check the condition of the underside of the joists and floorboards.

What to do if you suspect you have a Rising Damp problem

Timberwise are experts in identifying and recommending the best solutions to Rising Damp related problems and have been for over 40 years. All houses are different and have a variety of different damp proofing methods at their disposal. From chemical damp proof courses through to electro osmotic damp proofing you can be sure that Timberwise will accurately diagnose and suggest the best course of action for your property. To arrange a survey simply call your local Timberwise office on 0800 288 8660 of complete our on-line survey request form and we will contact you to arrange a convenient time for a survey.

Penetrating Damp

This enters properties through walls and around windows either horizontally or from above. The most frequent cause is a leaking roof or blocked gutters and downpipes. Water may travel down beams through natural gullies, down electric cables and along joists before it finally appears on the wall. Further information on our penetrating damp solutions can be found on our Penetrating damp page.

Tips on spotting and avoiding Penetrating Damp


– After rainfall look for external damp patches where most of the wall has dried but a damp patch is left.

– Feel the walls for signs of dampness.

– Pay special attention to ceilings and around windows- especially dormer windows and roof lights.

– Inspect the loft and check the underfelt. Turn of the lighting in the loft area and check for any signs of daylight coming through. This easy check highlights areas where water could be coming in.

– With the aid of a pair of binoculars check the condition of the roof. Study carefully the ridge tiles and the area around the base of the chimney stack.

– Look for any signs of algae or mould on exterior walls. Mould can be a sign of a recurring damp problem.

Accidental Damp

This form of dampness is caused by accidental water leakage – for example a leaking water tap or pipe. Older pipework is particularly susceptible to leakage from joints, and as a majority of pipework is hidden this can be difficult to identify. This is where you may need the skills of a good plumber to spot any potential leaks. Another area to check is around baths and showers where the seals may need renewing.

Tips on spotting and avoiding Accidental Damp problems

– Always turn the stop cock off if the property is going to be vacant for any long periods.

– Drain the water and central heating system of any property that is vacant – especially during the colder winter months. Frozen pipes can mean expensive repairs.

– Keep a look out for signs of leakage around all areas where water is used.

– Get a qualified plumber to give you an informal assessment of the state of the water and central heating system in the property.