Internal wall showing signs of dampness

How To Identify Rising Damp

Do you believe that you could have signs of rising damp at your property? Here we explain several ways of identifying if you have a rising damp problem.

This guide will not only tell you what possible rising damp signs to look out for but the causes as well.

If there any of the signs listed below occurring in your property then you really should consider contacting a damp specialist as soon as possible.

Accredited to

Nic Glover

Branch Manager and Waterproofing Design Specialist CSRT CSSW
North East

It can be sometimes hard to distinguish the difference between rising damp and other damp issues such as condensation and penetrating damp.

Rising damp present on walls

If left untreated, a small rising damp issue could turn into a real headache. Find out more about the range of rising damp treatments that are carried out by Timberwise.

What Are The Key Rising Damp Signs To Look For?

There are some clear signs that can give property owners and an indication that your property is suffering from rising damp without the assistance of a surveyor. Identifying signs earlier will help you be able to deal with the damp problem as quickly as possible.

Tidemarks and Damp Stains On Walls

One of the most recognisable rising damp signs is if there are tidemarks on your walls. They will be horizontal brown or discoloured marks at around 1 meter in height on interior walls.

The reason for these tidemarks to occur is due to the migrations of salts where the evaporated damp has risen up the walls from the floor. If you cannot see any tidemarks another sign is that there may be damp stains on the walls.

Just like the tidemarks they will be 1 metre above the ground and be brown in colour. If these damp patches are above 1 metre from the ground then this could be a sign of penetrating damp instead.

However, it is important to note that, penetrating damp could be occurring from the addition of rising damp so careful diagnosis needs to be made when looking at this issue.

Signs of Rising Damp

Wet Patches On Walls

If the walls in your property appear to have damp or wet patches then it is more than likely that it is rising damp causing the problem. In order for rising damp to occur these patches must be on the lower parts of the wall and on the ground floor of the building.

The process of rising damp is through a capillary action with moisture moving up walls through the bricks and stonework.

The main form of protection to stop rising damp is a damp proof course and if it is damaged or does not exist in the first place then your property is vulnerable to rising damp.

If your damp problem is occurring above the ground floor of the building then it is other damp issues are causing the problem e.g. condensation or penetrating damp.

Peeling Wallpaper

Another key sign that rising damp is occurring is the peeling of wallpaper. If there is sustained dampness in the property the walls will be full moisture. The more moisture you have in the property the more chance the wallpaper will start to peel off the wall.

You will most likely find this on the lower parts of the wall or around the skirting board. Peeling paper can also mean problems associated with penetrating damp or condensation which means that you should have a survey carried out by a damp proofing professional to ensure a correct diagnosis is carried out.

Bubbling or Flacking Plaster On Walls

Flaky or bubbling plaster is often a symptom of rising damp. You will most likely find that plaster will be crumbling, or deposits of plaster will be on the floor. This is due to the amount of moisture in the walls that causes the plaster to weaken over time and eventually fall off.

This problem causes obvious distress for many homeowners across the UK as not only does it not look aesthetically pleasing but it can also prove costly to fix.

Damp and Musty Smell

The most common ways of identifying dampness in properties is that you might have a musty damp smell. It is a musky, moist smell that provides evidence of a damp issue. With all forms of damp having a musty smell attached it is often difficult to distinguish which one is causing the problem.

Wooden Beading and Skirting Boards Begin To Rot

Leaving rising damp untreated for a long amount of time can lead to serious problems occurring further down the line. For example, your skirting boards may begin to rot.

The reason for this is that if the moisture content in the timber is at 20% then rot starts to germinate. Property owners must be aware of this and stop the cause of the damp problem before allowing wood rotting fungi to get a hold.

Black Mould Appearing On Walls

Black mould on walls is a common sign of damp being a problem in a property. Black mould is often associated with condensation, however, if the mould occurs towards one specific part of the wall then this could be a sign that you have a rising or penetrating damp problem.

This would require further investigation from a damp surveyor to outline what type of problem is causing the black mould to appear on the walls.

The Misdiagnosis Of Rising Damp

Misdiagnosing rising damp from other forms of dampness is not uncommon – this is why it is important to employ the services of a damp specialist to correctly identify the type of dampness in the property. One common misdiagnosis is that if you see a tide mark on your wall, it is automatically assumed that this is a rising damp problem.

If there are external defects such as faulty guttering or overgrown vegetation on the gutters this is often associated with signs of a penetrating damp issue as opposed to rising damp.

It is also important to note that you might not have an effective damp proof course already installed in your property over last 20 years. If you are seeing mould appearing on walls this could be a sign of dampness as a result of condensation. The main difference between rising damp and the other forms of damp is that it cannot occur above the first floor as moisture rises from the soil onto the walls of the property.

What To Do Next?

If you think you are seeing signs of a rising damp problem and need further advice then don’t hesitate to contact Timberwise. To speak to our damp proofing specialists today for free advice.

You can also request a survey online.

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