Common Signs and Symptoms of Rising Damp in Walls
Rising damp, though some people think it is a myth, is a common problem in households across the country. It has many warning signs and tell-tale symptoms, so in theory, it should be fairly easy to notice. However, it can go unchecked for long periods when building owners don’t realise what they are looking at. This guide aims to inform about the common signs in walls so that no problem is left untreated.
What Is Rising Damp?
Rising damp is water that comes up from the ground and infiltrates a property. It is only ever found on the ground floor. Rising damp tends to reach around a metre in height, but it can go higher in rare cases. It differs from penetrating damp. It can come in at any point and affect any area of the room. So, how do you know if you have a rising damp issue in your house or property?
The biggest clue will always be the odour of a room. This smell is distinct and smells like standing water. When rising damp takes hold, there will always be a smell that comes with it. Walking into a room, the smell will be stronger, but it is typically noticed throughout a house where there are impacted areas. While the smell is unpleasant, it should go away if you invest in the right treatment at the right time.
Water Marks On The Wall
Aside from the smell, there will be noticeable water marks coming up from the floor and travelling higher on the wall. The wall will feel damp to the touch and the main source of the bad smell in the air. Watermarks, sometimes called tide marks, are obvious to spot and look like dark patches on the wall. The wallpaper or paintwork underneath will also look wet.
If you have a room with rising damp that also has wallpaper on the walls, then you may notice significant peeling or drooping. Paper can’t stay stuck to a damp wall, and while the décor higher up the wall may remain untouched, the things lower down will be affected by rising damp problems. The paper may look crinkled, feel wet, and look darker than the rest of the wall and it is prone to ripping or falling off completely.
Visible Hygroscopic Salts
Hygroscopic salts are just an official term used to describe the mineral deposits that come as a side effect of water inside the walls. They will bubble up on the plaster and the brickwork (if outside) and you will notice it by the distinct white colour and crumbling texture. It is hard to miss, but it doesn’t always show its head until the problem is a big one.
Plaster is as prone to damage as wallpaper and paint. Anything on your wall where the damp is rising will be impacted in some way and the plaster is no exception. When you notice damage to the plaster, you may see that it has bubbled or warped. While this is alarming, a damp proofing course and some new plaster will be the best way forward.
Unfortunately, excessive moisture in a room can lead to major mould problems taking hold. Mould is not something you want inside your house because it is extremely dangerous when left to grow. While you can clean it and remove the initial growth with an industrial cleaning solution, a mask, and a strong pair of household cleaning gloves, it will simply return time and time again, while the rising damp remains untreated.
Damaged Skirting Boards
Skirting boards will also suffer and this is one spot where you may see significant damage to woodwork and paintwork. Skirting boards, when you think about the shape and layout of a room, are always on the floor. They are, therefore, more or less the first point of impact for the rising damp. They are also likely to see the greatest amount of water and it is not something that can be replaced while the damp is still ongoing.
External Brick and Mortar Degradation
It is easy to spot external brick and mortar degradation from rising damp. Look close to the ground and there will be signs of dark patches where the water is salt present, and even holes in the mortar that can lead to a different kind of damp known as penetrating damp. If the damage is happening on both sides, it may cost more money to fix but it is still manageable.
Why Rising Damp Is Often Misdiagnosed
Misdiagnosis of rising damp is all too common. It is difficult to tell the difference between the varying categories for someone who is not trained in the area. Our team will be able to tell if you have a rising damp problem fairly quickly through some simple observations and will recommend a further survey to confirm the suspicions. The most common reason that rising damp is misdiagnosed is when there is condensation in the area that exhibits the same symptoms. Condensation can cause mould, wet patches on the wall, and damage to the décor.
Rising Damp: What to Do
If you suspect your property is struggling with rising damp, get in touch. There is always a way forward and the price will depend on the size of the property and the size of the problem. Ignoring it will only compromise both the structural integrity of your building and your health. It is important to get it right, and the job doesn’t take as long as you may think. For example, a severe case of rising damp affecting several rooms will take around three to four weeks to be finished, and this includes redecorating.