Signs of Rising Damp

Helpful guide for identifying a rising damp issue


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Rising damp

Unsure if you have a rising damp issue? Then our guide below is exactly what you need.

It's understandable that you might not be an expert when it comes to damp problems, but our user friendly guide to the tell tale signs of rising damp should give you a good steer for identifing the problem.

If you recognise the tell tale signs in the pictures lbelow, then we would suggest you consider rising damp treatment as early as possible. As with most damp problems, the longer you leave rising damp, the more expensive it can become to remedy.

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Tell tale signs of rising damp

You can often identify rising damp without using any professional equipment, just looking at and touching your walls can often be enough. Typical signs that can identify rising damp include:

Tell tale sign 1 - Tide marks and damp staining
 (click on images above for hi-res version)

One of the most common tell tale signs are tide marks left on walls. Tide marks are caused by evaporation and salts from the ground. You will normally notice them anywhere up to a 1 metre above the skirting board.

If you do not notice tide marks, another very common tell tale sign is damp patches or staining.  Typically, these damp patches are yellowish or brownish in colour and similar to tide marks, you will notice them up to 1 metre above the skirting board.

Tell tale sign 2 - Peeling wallpaper
(click on images above for hi-res version)

Look out for wallpaper coming off or peeling from the wall. You will most likely notice it coming loose from the skirting board first with the corner of the wallpaper turned or curved up 

Tell tale sign 3 - decayed skirting boards
 (click on images above for hi-res version)

As with many forms of dampness, rising damp has the potential to cause rot within timbers it comes into contact with. Look out for skirtings that are cracked, easily crumble or localised fungus growing on or creeping out of the side. Also, look out for damaged or flaky paint.

Tell tale sign 4 - Salts within the plaster
(click on images above for hi-res version)

Salts in the form of white fluffy desposits in the plaster similar to the images below are another clear tell tale sign. These salts are washed out of your bricks and into your plaster leaving what can look like blistering patches on your walls.

Tell tale sign 5 - black mould
(click on images above for hi-res version)

If you see black mould appearing above your skirting board it is a clear sign that there is some form of dampness affecting the area, especially if you have no other evidence of black mould within the property and the black mould is localised from the skirting board to up to 1 metre above the skirting.

Other practical tell tale signs of rising damp

If the above tell tell signs do not seem to relate to the damp issue you are having but you still suspect rising damp, check the following:

  • Run your hands around the suspected rising damp area.  If you have wallpaper on your walls, you may hear a ‘crunching’ sound of the salts that have been drawn from the ground
  • If possible, look at the exposed surface of the brick or stone work. Check to see if there are salts forming, that the brick is actually wet (not just the wallpaper or paint)

It is also important to note that rising damp only occurs on ground floor levels as it is moisture from the soil that is being drawn up the walls and thus causing the rising damp problem. 

If it is the case that your damp problem is on the first floor or above, it may be that you have a condensation problem or a penetrating damp issue.  View our damp proofing web page to help you identify and solve your damp problem or contact your local Wise Property Care branch for help in identifying your property problem.

More about other damp issues

Identifying rising damp - misdiagnosis

It is not uncommon to hear rising damp being misdiagnosed. Many individuals inexperienced with identifying rising damp issues may just assume that due to the usual tell tale sign of a tide mark on the wall that you have a rising damp issue. Before considering instructing any form of rising damp treatment, consider the following:

  • Do you have any faulty or leaking guttering that could lead to your damp issue? Is there vegetation growing out of the gutters?
  • Do you have faulty of leaking plumbing?
  • Have you had a damp proof course installed within the property over the last 20 years?
  • Is it a possible condensation problem?  If so check out our condensation web page 
  • Do you have cracks in the stonework or brick work?
  • Do you have damp staining on stonework particularly adjacent to pipes?
  • Do you have defecting pointing?

Any of the property problems above could suggest that the initial damp issue you have is not rising damp. Check out our damp proofing web page to help you identify the possible damp problem you have or contact Wise Property Care on 0800 65 22 678.  Alternatively, contact us via our online contact form.

Video: rising damp explained

Visit our rising damp home page an view a helpful video on what rising damp is, how it is caused and what you can do about it.

Watch: rising damp explained

Treat a rising damp issue

Recognise the typical rising damp tell tale signs and now want to resolve it? Visit our rising damp treatment page for the info you need.

Rising damp treatment

Still need a little more help?

If you want to speak to someone regarding rising damp treatment, call Wise Property Care on 0800 65 22 678 or click to find your local branch contact details and speak to one of our rising damp experts for some free and impartial advice. 

Alternatively, if you want someone to take a look at your damp problem, you can always request a rising damp survey online.

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