Signs of Rising Damp are usually observed as a damp mark or stain patch to the decorative wall covering to the lower wall areas normally above skirting board level, this is usually the first sign of failure of the existing damp course or the omission of a damp course barrier in new build properties.
Rising Damp is mainly found on older properties where the existing damp proof course barrier has deteriorated due to age as a result of wear.
Kerelaw Building Preservation treatments for Damp Proofing typically involves the installation of a new horizontal Damp Proof Course barrier and our preferred method is the use of injection barrier chemical cream or gel which is inserted by boring and injecting into the base of the treatment walls.
Rising Damp treatments may involve the removal of contaminated plaster up to a height of approximately 1metre above floor level and replacement using a specialist renovating plaster.
Kerelaw Building Preservation undertakes all treatments using our own fully trained and experienced technicians who undertake the full treatments from chemical injection to plaster removal and replacement.
To establish the extent and type of Dampness Kerelaw Surveyors will inspect your property and undertake moisture profile testing of the walls to establish the level and cause of dampness and provide a best solution, whereby a Professional specification report and quotation, based upon our findings and recommendations will be provided.
The Kerelaw Building Preservation Rising Damp Guarantee will be issued on completion of our work to the treatment areas providing long-term protection for up to 20 years, in addition, as members of the Insured Guarantees. We offer underwritten guarantee protection, please see our Guarantee section for details.
The basic symptoms of damp, e.g. peeling paint, are largely the same regardless of the cause of the dampness. Different causes of dampness require different treatments therefore we always recommend a survey to diagnose the cause before treatment begins. Rising damp in buildings may be defined as the vertical flow of water up through a permeable wall structure, the water being derived from ground water. The water rises through the pores (capillaries) in the masonry by a process loosely termed "capillarity". In other words the masonry acts like a wick.
Treatment of rising damp (known as "damp-proofing" or "damp coursing") means installing a chemical damp proof course (DPC) using specialist injection equipment. This treatment will require a certain degree of re-plastering.
Dampness enables the growth of various fungi in wood, causing rot or mould. Moulds occurs where there is a lot of moisture from structural problems such as leaky roofs or high humidity levels. Airborne mould concentrations have the potential to be inhaled and can have health effects.
Health effects of Dampness
Excess moisture leads to growth of microbes such as moulds, fungi and bacteria, which subsequently emit spores, cells, fragments and volatile organic compounds into the indoor air. Moreover, dampness initiates chemical and/or biological degradation of materials, which also causes pollution of the indoor air. Exposure to microbial contaminants is clinically associated with respiratory symptoms, allergies, asthma and immunological reactions. Dampness has therefore been suggested to be a strong and consistent indicator of risk for asthma and respiratory symptoms.
Identification of Dampness
A wide range of instruments and techniques can be used to investigate the presence of moisture in building materials. When used correctly, they can provide a valuable aid to investigation. The competence and experience of the person undertaking the damp investigation is often of greater importance than the kit he or she carries. Experience and qualified surveyors are the difference between a correct and incorrect diagnosis of damp.
Prevention and treatment
In the UK, well built modern houses include damp proofing in the form of a synthetic damp-proof course (DPC), about 150 mm above ground level, to act as a barrier through which water cannot pass. Slate or "engineering bricks" with a low porosity were often used for the first few courses above ground level, and these can help minimise the problem.
There are many approaches to the treatment of dampness in existing buildings. Key to the selection of an appropriate treatment is a correct diagnosis of the types of dampness affecting a building.
The Institute for Specialist Surveyors and Engineers (ISSE) has produced a level 3 Diploma (i.e. requiring 500 hours of study and assessment) in partnership with the regulated educational specialist ABBE which many might think should lead to improvements in standards throughout the industry as far more training and assessment is possible in the extended time available to tutors.
In many cases, damp is caused by "bridging" of a damp-proof course that is otherwise working effectively. For example a flowerbed next to an affected wall might result in soil being piled up against the wall above the level of the DPC. In this example, moisture from the ground would be able to ingress through the wall from the soil. Such a damp problem could be rectified by simply lowering the flowerbed to below DPC level.
Where a rising damp problem is caused by a lack of a damp-proof course (common in buildings over approximately 100 years old) or by a failed damp-proof course there is a wide range of possible solutions available. Replacement physical damp proof course, Injection of a liquid or cream chemical damp proof course, (DPC Injection), Damp-proofing rods, Porous tubes / other evaporative methods., Land drainage, Electrical-osmotic systems.
Effect of placing a porous brick in a shallow tray of water
In simple terms rising damp occurs when ground water travels upwards through porous building materials such as brick, sandstone or mortar, much in the same way that oil travels upwards through the wick of a lamp. The effect can easily be seen by simply placing a piece of porous brick, stone or mortar in a shallow tray of water and observing how the water is absorbed into the porous material and is transported above the water line.
Rising damp can be identified by a characteristic tidemark on the lower section of affected walls. This tidemark is caused by soluble salts (particularly nitrates and chlorides) contained in the groundwater. Due to the effects of evaporation these salts accumulate at the peak of the rising damp.
Diagnosis of rising damp
The first step in assessing damp is to check for standing water. Removing water with good drainage will remove any form of dampness. Once done, and dampness remains, the next step is to look for the presence of a damp-proof course. One method that is often used to determine if the source of dampness is rising damp is to look for the presence of salts - in particular a tell tale "salt band" or "tide mark" at the peak of the damp's rise. Although this is a useful indicator, it is not completely reliable as salts can enter the fabric of the wall in other ways - e.g. unwashed sea sand or gravel used in the construction.
If there is no damp-proof course and rising damp is suspected then a number of diagnostic techniques can be used to determine the source of dampness. BRE Digest 245 states that the most satisfactory approach is to obtain samples of mortar in the affected wall using a drill and then analysing these samples to determine their moisture and salt content to assist in providing appropriate remedial building solutions. The fact that this technique is destructive to the wall finish often makes it unacceptable to homeowners. It is for this reason that electrical moisture meters are often used when surveying for rising damp.
Replacement physical damp proof course
A physical damp proof course made from plastic can be installed into an existing building by cutting into short sections of the mortar course, and installing short sections of the damp proof course material. This method can provide an extremely effective barrier to rising damp, but is not widely used, and is considerably longer to install than other types of rising damp treatment.
Injection of a liquid or cream chemical damp proof course (DPC Injection)
Injection of a liquid or cream into bricks or mortar is the most common method of treating rising damp.
Liquid-injection products were introduced in the 1950s and were typically installed using funnels (gravity feed method) or pressured injection pumps. The effectiveness of liquid injection damp proofing products is dependent on the type of formulation and the skill of the installer.
In more recent years patented damp-proofing creams have taken over from liquid products due to improved ease of application. As with liquid products these are based on silane/siloxane active ingredients, which line the pores of the mortar to repel damp.
Damp-proofing rods were launched onto the market in 2014. They use similar active ingredients to those found in liquid or cream-based rising damp treatments, but contained in a solid, porous rod. The rods are placed into holes drilled in the mortar course and the active ingredients diffuse along the mortar line before curing to form a damp-proof course.
Whilst there is evidence to suggest that these systems can be useful in moving salts in walls there is little in the way of independent data to demonstrate effectiveness in treating rising damp. The BRE publication "Understanding Dampness" makes the following observations about electro osmotic systems for the treatment of rising damp: "There are two types: active and passive; neither has been approved by a recognised laboratory. By far the greater numbers of systems are of the passive kind, where there is no external source of electricity. They have always been something of a controversial issue. On theoretical grounds, it remains a mystery as to how they can work; their effectiveness has not been demonstrated in the laboratory and field evidence is disappointing