Rising damp

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Rising damp - Help and advice

Rising damp is a well-known form of damp that affects the ground floor of buildings. Despite the notoriety of rising damp it is not all that common and requires a very specific set of circumstances to cause it. It is often misdiagnosed as a result of this, so examination by a qualified surveyor is recommended before proceeding with any rising damp treatment.

This page will offer professional guidance on the causes of rising damp, the tell-tale signs of a rising damp problem and the treatments and solutions available.

Contact Wise Property Care about Rising Damp


Rising damp is caused by water from the ground traveling upwards through brickwork by capillary action. The water will contain a number of contaminants found in the ground, such as salts, that also travel up the bricks causing further damage to the wall.

The water and salts from rising damp can cause damage to plaster, timber and any absorbent decorative features such as skirting boards and wallpaper. This causes unsightly staining and can lead to rot in structural timbers.

What causes rising damp?

The vast majority of properties in the UK should already be protected by a damp proof course. A damp-proof course is a layer of waterproof material in the ground floor wall that prevents the capillary action previously discussed. A damp proof course can take many forms, but whether it is made of slate or chemicals it can break down over time and this is usually when rising damp occurs.

Damage to a wall can disrupt a damp proof course but they can also be bridged by external factors such as raised flower beds, patios and other cosmetic additions to the outside of a home that can provide ground water with a way around an existing damp proof course

Damp proof courses can also be bridged internally by absorbent materials being added to the inside wall that stretch beyond the damp proof course and meet the bottom of your internal wall. A build-up of absorbent material inside a cavity wall can also bridge a damp proof course.

Why is rising damp a problem?

Rising damp is unsightly, potentially unhealthy, often leads to timber decay and can cause heat loss due to the increased conductivity of the walls. If you notice the tell tale signs of rising damp a general rule of thumb is that the sooner you start thinking about resolving the issue, the less likely for more damage to occur and the lower the potential costs to remedy the issue. Often, the easiest and most reliable way to do this is to contact an experienced and qualified rising damp specialist such as ourselves that are familiar with rising damp problems and the variety of rising damp treatments available. 

What Are the Signs of rising damp?

Identifying a rising damp issue can usually be done by looking for visual clues and by touch. All of the following signs can indicate rising damp:

Damp stains and tidemarks

Perhaps the most common sign of rising damp is tide marks on walls that rise to around one metre above the floor. Rising damp can also appear as brown or yellow stains on the wall that again rise to about one metre above the floor.

If the damp is visible higher up the wall it is more likely that your property is suffering from penetrating damp.

Salt marks on the wall

As previously mentioned, salts and other contaminants will travel up the wall with water when rising damp occurs. When the water in the wall evaporates, the salts will rise to the surface and leave behind visible white marks.

Damaged wallpaper Plaster and paint

Continuous water ingress caused by rising damp will result in peeling wallpaper and flaking paint. In cases of rising damp this damage will be most prevalent around the skirting boards. Plaster can also start bubble, flake and crumble away from damp internal walls due to rising damp.

However, condensation and penetrating damp can also cause these problems so treatment should not proceed based on these signs alone.

Rotting skirting and floors

Skirting boards, wooden flooring and carpets can all start to rot due to fugal growth if they are exposed to excess moisture due to rising damp. Signs of rot caused by damp will include cracking and crumbling wood and visible fungus growth.

Other signs of rising damp

Rising damp can cause a lot of other symptoms such as rust, mould and a damp musty smell. It is worth reiterating though that these signs will likely be localised to the lower part of the ground floor if rising damp is the cause. For more in-depth information on how to spot the signs of rising damp, visit our dedicated web page.

Signs of rising damp

How to Treat rising damp

Firstly, consider if the rising damp (damp proofing) barrier is really to blame. Sometimes new external features such as a flowerbed or patio may have been installed above the rising damp barrier causing rising damp to occur. By lowering these features to below the damp barrier you may cure a rising damp problem by allowing the area to dry out naturally. After that, all you really need to do is to regually open your windows and heat the room.

However, if the rising damp barrier has failed, modern techniques employed by rising damp specialists are very successful and a rising damp survey will reveal the extent of any problem with the recommended and most appropriate rising damp treatment.  This could either be the injection of water repellent chemicals into the brick work or the fitting of a new physical damp proof membrane to the area with the removal and replacement of any affected plaster work and damaged timber.

Rising damp treatment

Want to learn more on how to treat rising damp? Check out our guide on rising damp treatments and solutions.

Rising damp treatment

Have a pro take a look

Still unsure if you have a rising damp problem? Why not organise a survey. Click on the link to find out more.

About our damp surveys

Speak to a rising damp specialist

At Wise Property Care, we are experts at identifying and treating rising damp. If you suspect a rising damp problem within your property, call 0800 65 22 678 or click to find your local branch and speak to local rising damp specialist. With our 20 year property repair guarantee, you will have the peace of mind that your rising damp problems will soon be over.

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Contact us about rising damp

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