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“Rising damp” is NOT a source of dampness!

September 30, 2010

A recent RICS Books publication entitled Residential Building Defects (by G Hunt) commented that “the source of dampness is often very difficult to track down but surprisingly easy to resolve”. However, some damp salesmen would take issue with this statement, they will have you believe that the opposite is true. This is usually because their living depends upon selling expensive remedial work rather than diagnosing the actual source of the dampness.

Oh no, Rising Dampness!!

The photo opposite was taken at a property that had been inspected by a damp salesman a couple of weeks before my visit. The quote for the remedial work was a little short of £3,000 and the cause, was our old friend “Rising Damp”. However, after lifting a floor board in the hall, the source of the dampness was a leaking lead main!

The owner phoned me some weeks later to confirm that the cost of the plumber’s repair was only £150!

The grey incoming lead main was the source of dampness!

The above example is why I never use the term “Rising Damp” when describing high mositure meter readings at the base of the wall. The simple reason, “Rising Damp” is not a source of dampness at all but a mechanism by which moisture enters the propertry. Damp investigation is primarily about finding the source of dampness. Remove the source and the mechanism stops being an issue.

Moreover, another reason why it might not be smart to use the term “Rising Damp” is that it will almost certainly result in your home undergoing expensive and largely unnecessary remedial work.
I would recommend you use a term like Below Ground Moisture or even just Internal Dampness, but keep it vague until a Damp Diagnosing Practitioner gives you a proper diagnosis. This is because you don’t want to pre-judge the further investigation by the DDP. Remember, we’re interested in the Source of dampness not the Mechanism or Symptoms!

The example above clearly illustrates why it is so imperative to diagnose the SOURCE of the dampness, before any remedial treatment is suggested. If the damp salesman had his way the walls would have been injected, the money paid and the lead main would still be leaking!


From → 3. Dampness

  1. hi!This was a really fine topic!
    I come from usa, I was fortunate to look for your subject in baidu
    Also I learn much in your Topics really thanks very much i will come again

  2. Louise permalink

    Hi, Please could you help. I live in a mid-terraced house that is approx. 100 years old. It had extensive work done on it in the 90’s. I have lived here for 4 years and just recently noticed a rising discolouration on the mid wall -which feels damp to touch. It is a two up two down property. I had a multi fuel burner installed on an adjoining wall last year. Who do I get to diagnose the problem and will I be insured?

    • Hi Louise

      Can you give me more details on the “mid wall”? Is this the party wall between you and your neighbour’s property? Is it by chance on the stairs side of the house?


  3. hi , just looking for some help really, i have been told that i have ‘rising damp’ on my downstair loo that adjoins my litchen but is on an external wall, there are two external walls that have discoloured and wet to the touch . and two maybe three internal walls not far from that area that are also effected by flaking paint, damp to the touch ect, All my floors are concrete so cant take any flooring up ect to check anything else, the property does have a damp course (which kind i am unclear of as it was put in 27 yrs ago before i lived here) i have called my insurance company to see if i can get any help and they said nop damp is not covered, i beleieve this can be costly to renew the damp course and then know off plaster on the internal walls and replasterd after been treated, and worried that this could be over a wider area of the house than first thought and the cost running away, any ideas on what to do cost effective plz

    • I Sue

      Sorry to hear that you might have some internal dampness.

      It’s best not to use the term rising damp as it doesn’t help with the diagnosis. Most internal dampness is caused by Gutters, Gulleys and Ground |levels. (the 3 Gs).

      Assuming you haven’t got an internal pipe leak or an internal condensation issue, look out side where the internal damp symptoms are evident and tell me if you see any plant growth or algae which would develop if there was a lot of water about. Look up to the eaves and assess if the gutters are leaking.

      If you have condensation this is an internal problem and is not caused by water coming into your home. Is the damp damage close to a radiator or near the cistern of the toilet? Is the water dripping off the cistern of the toilet?

      Let me know.

      email is

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