Rising damp is one of the most common, but most dangerous problems in your home. As you can tell by its name, rising damp comes on slowly, rising up through the ground floor. It’s one of the three largest damp problems you’ll come across in the home. The other two are ‘penetrating damp’ and ‘condensation’. Each must be treated in different ways, and each show varying symptoms. Today, we’ll show you how to specifically identify rising damp.
Before we jump into the main chunk of the article, it’s worth understanding a little more about the problem. Rising damp occurs when water enters the walls of the ground floors. Now, most walls allow some water in. But, in most cases, the rising ground water is stopped by a damp proof course. That’s a long plastic, slate, or foam lining that blocks the route up through the walls. If this becomes ineffective, you will start to notice the early signs of rising damp. So what exactly are the early signs?
1. Damaged skirting boards
Water causes an immense amount of damage to wood, so that’s the first place you’ll notice a problem. The skirting boards are the lowest point in the rising pattern, so this is where you’ll see the first signs of trouble. Water slowly destroys skirting boards, turning them rotten. If you start to see the skirting boards crumbling and falling apart, it’s a sure sign that rising damp is taking hold.
2. Damaged floorboards
You’ll also notice a similar thing on your skirting boards. If the water damage spreads through the walls and into the flooring, then you’re looking at major repairs. Often, you’ll come across rising damp when the damp proof course is below the water line. (It can happen when houses sink slightly). At this point, you’ll see a lot of damage to the floorboards. If you aren’t sure about yours, take a look under the carpet, and look for signs of rotting.
3. Crumbling plaster and peeling paint
This symptom is one of the easiest ones to spot. It will be in your eyesight, and can happen at any point up the walls. You’ll begin to notice small bubbles in the paint or wallpapering. That’s the first sign of trouble. If you act now, you’ll certainly save yourself some money. If allowed to get worse, the paint will begin to peel away from the walls. The plaster itself may even start to crumble.
4. Tide marks and damp patches
As well as the peeling paint, you might also see visible tide lines. This is a mark of where the water has reached, and left a damp circle. The wall may even be wet to the touch. It’s also worth pointing out that this will all take place on the ground floor. If you’re seeing these symptoms on the first or second floor, it may suggest a different problem. In this case, it is more likely to be condensation (though be watchful for penetrating damp).
The earlier you spot these signs of trouble, the better! The longer rising damp is left to thrive, the more expensive the repair becomes.