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Focus on Damp Part One: Rising Damp

It’s that time of year when you might start to notice damp patches here and there. All damp is caused by too much water, so it stands to reason that damp is usually more of an issue in the cooler months, when there is usually more rain. However, unresolved damp can become a serious problem all year around and can even lead to health issues.

The problem with damp, is it is hard to tell the cause. There are three main types of damp: rising damp, condensation and penetrating damp. In this series we talk about rising damp, its causes, symptoms, and what you can do.

What is rising damp?

Rising damp is when water from the ground is soaked up into the walls of a building by capillary action; the process by which water can flow upwards. The process of water rising into the walls is similar to that of a sponge soaking up water; bricks, mortar and plaster are porous, which means that they act like a sponge. Rising damp can occur in any buildings, but it is most common in older buildings as most houses built in the last 100 years have been built with a damp-proof course (DPC). One 1996 survey indicated that around 10% of homes built between 1900 and 1918 have rising damp, and 1% of homes built after 1956.

Signs of rising damp

Rising damp is only present on the ground floor of a building, so if your damp patches are on higher levels, it won’t be rising damp. Signs include:

  • a damp, musty smell
  • crumbling plaster
  • tide marks on the walls
  • decaying skirting boards or timber decay
  • crumbling mortar or salt residue on the exterior.

Treating rising damp

If you notice a damp issue, ask a damp specialist to undertake a damp survey on your property. Usually, surveys are no-obligation, but they will give you a correct diagnosis and tell you what needs to be done to address the problem. Most modern buildings have a plastic membrane between the wall and the ground, so that water can’t soak through. However, in older properties, or in instances where that membrane has become cracked, measures need to be taken to put a barrier between the outside ground and the walls of your property. Your damp specialist will be able to give you the treatment options; technology is continually evolving, and more and more damp treatments are available. Usually, there is some level of disruption; plaster will need to come off the lower portion of the wall in order for the damp to be fixed. On completion, your damp proofer will give you a certificate to show the work that has been undertaken; this is useful if you ever come to sell your property and acts as a warranty for the work done.

Damp proofing your home can be costly, but it is definitely a worthy investment and will help you to protect your assets for years to come.

Next week we focus on condensation. To stay updated, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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