Rising Damp – Causes and Treatments for Homeowners

Rising Damp - Causes and Treatments for Homeowners

Rising dampness is a term that no one wants to hear about a house, whether they are a homeowner or a potential homebuyer. Even though such a form of damp is uncommon, it can be expensive to repair. Rising damp is most common in older homes without a damp proof course (DPC) or in homes where the DPC has failed. When water infiltrates a brick base and damages the walls, it is known as rising damp. 

This is not an issue that a homeowner should overlook—and not only because it can affect the value of the house. This can make a room feel cold, unpleasant, and unsafe, and it can cause structural or weatherproofing problems in the worst-case scenario.

It’s also an issue that is easily mishandled, with many people believing that merely wiping down walls or painting over mold will fix the problem. It won’t. That’s because growing damp isn’t just a problem with mildew or mold; it’s typically a sign of a more serious structural complication that will come back unless you take steps to prevent water from rising from the surface and infiltrate into your home’s walls.

Fortunately, dampness can also be handled and avoided without the need for a specialist. There are also simple signs to look for that might signify a problem, as well as simple steps you can do to prevent it from occurring.

What is Rising Damp?

Rising damp is a rare but severe form of damp that damages building walls. Moisture from the surface rises through the walls as a result of capillary forces. This indicates that like a collection of straws, groundwater is drawn up through small holes in the bricks. This liquid carries salts, which can move up the wall as well.

Other porous structural elements, such as plaster and the wood used in baseboards, joists, and skirtings, are found around the affected wall. These products can also readily absorb groundwater, and you can see signs of wet rot in the wood.

Growing damp is usually detected by the damage it does to a building’s interior walls. Paint and plaster deteriorate with time, and wallpaper loosens. At the point where the surface water has hit, a noticeable stain emerges on the wall in the shape of a tide mark. Salts can emerge on the inner wall as well. This is a common symptom of rising damp and can result in paint and plasterwork debonding. Mortar can collapse externally, leaving white salt stains on the wall.

Signs of Rising Damp

Buildings can face massive structural damage as a result of rising damp. The following are some signs that can help you identifying rising damp:

  • Deterioration of plaster and paint, as well as the loosening of wallpaper
  • Surfaces with stain marks or ‘tide marks’ caused by salts, damp,  and mold.
  • External mortar can crumble, resulting in salt stains on the walls. In severe cases, the affected wall’s mortar or plaster can fall away.
  • Fasteners made of steel and iron can rust.

What Causes Rising Damp?

  • If your home isn’t shielded by a rising damp barrier (also known as a damp proof course or DPC), then rising damp will inevitably occur at some stage.
  • Rising damp is caused by capillary action absorbing moisture from the earth. And through a height of approximately one meter, the moisture can only hit a certain point.
  • Because of the use of vinyl wallpapers, paints, and tanking systems, salt deposits can be observed in the wall.
  • The infiltration of surface water into your home through stonework or brickwork may cause rising damp.
  • Soluble salts in the groundwater enter the building’s internal and exterior walls. As a result, these salts absorb moisture from the air, giving the wall a perpetually damp appearance.

The majority of groundwater contains a small number of salts that are usually tolerable.

The threats of living in a house with a rising damp problem

Apart from structural collapse, rising damp has the following consequences:


Mold, mildew, and other microorganisms that live in damp and wet conditions can be risky to the occupants of the home. Damp symptoms can cause allergies at the very least, and bacterial infections at the worst.


If rising damp is not solved, the property owners will be subject to disciplinary action. Many federal and local building regulations require routine inspections and checks to ensure that structures are safe and secure places to live and work. Noncompliance could result in a hefty fine as well as other legal issues.


Increasing dampness will drastically lower the home’s value, causing large losses to the seller.

What is the Best Way to Get Rid of Dampness?

The sooner you notice signs of dampness, the easier it will be to minimize it. Examine the walls for visible signs of moisture, such as muddy or damp spots, flaking plaster, and peeling wallpaper. Musty and damp odors, rotting woods like skirting boards, or mildew and mold appearing on walls, ceilings, or floors are also signs of dampness. Here are some ways to learn how to solve these issues.

Make Sure Your Home is Well Ventilated

The most common form of damp is condensation, which is easy to fix. It can also be solved at a low cost and in a short time, without the help of skilled assistance. Boosting your home’s air circulation will help in the removal of condensation and the prevention of its recurrence. The majority of the moisture in your home comes from the kitchens and bathrooms. If your kitchen or bathroom has no extractor fan, you should install a new one to minimize condensation.

Examine the gutters

Water leaking through walls causes penetrating dampness. It usually occurs as a result of structural issues such as defective guttering or roofing, or exterior wall cracks. It’s possible to fix penetrating damp on your own at a low cost. You must first determine the problem before deciding whether you need professional assistance or not. Wet or leaking walls are generally the first sign of penetrating moisture. Look for interior wall discoloration, damp spots, water droplets, mold, blistered plaster, and a wet floor.

Water leaking from downpipes and gutters on the outside wall of your home can cause penetrating damp, so check them for cracks. It’s possible that repairing them will fix the problem.

Invest in a Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air. It will be particularly helpful if you frequently dry clothes inside the home – that is another common cause of excess moisture. Dehumidifiers can also help if you detect moisture in the air from normal activities like cooking and showering, which can both contribute to high moisture content. If you have water stains on your ceilings or walls, mold spores in your shower, or a musty odor, condensation on your windows,  a dehumidifier may be worth the investment. There are several different styles and brands to choose from. It is important to know the differences between desiccant and refrigerant humidifiers.

Treatments for Rising Damp

The methods for treating rising damp in your home are listed below:

Rising Damp Survey

A professional surveyor should be hired to treat rising dampness. A surveyor with damp expertise and knowledge will check your property for all damp issues and recommend the best rising damp treatments for your home.

Course for Damp Proofing

A damp proof course is installed in most modern homes, typically in the form of an impermeable plastic membrane that runs along a mortar line near the ground. On the other hand, older homes are often constructed without a damp-proof course, or the initial course has deteriorated over time. Also, there are trained technicians who work with a variety of damp proofing methods.

DryTek Damp Proofing Injection Cream

The DryTek Damp Proofing System is a Timberwise-exclusive damp proof injection cream that is applied to old brick and stonework buildings, as well as granite stone walls. It also acts as a barrier that prevents moisture from passing through, and the cream will help to fill any fine cracks. It creates a solid plug. This product is guaranteed by a 20-year warranty, giving you full mental peace.

Electro Osmosis System (EOS)

A very small electric current is added to the wall just above ground level by the Electro-Osmosis System. Growing moisture is repelled down the wall by the current. The walls will stay dry and free of moisture as long as the charge is continued.There is no assurance that rising damp will not return. Because there can be changes to the internal/external wall structure and external drainage, plumbing issues, or leaking pipes, broken guttering can occur. As a result, it’s important to conduct daily spot checks on your house. During the winter months, inspect the carpeting around the wall, touch the paintwork or wallpaper around the skirting boards (checking for damp or moisture), and leave these places as ventilated as possible. A little prevention and awareness can save a huge amount of aggravation and expense.


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