Rising damp: is this common property issue scaring away potential house buyers?

Although many properties will be in need of a good Spring clean as we move into the new season, there may be a bigger threat to your house than just unattended recycling and endless empty boxes – the growing issue of rising damp.

While the words 'rising damp' can strike fear into any homeowner's mind, the issue is especially intimidating to landlords or those selling their homes in 2017, according to new findings.

A recent YouGov poll, carried out on behalf of damp-proofing product specialists Safeguard Europe, discovered that an astounding 87 per cent of home-seekers would be put off making an offer on a property if it suffered from damp problems, and a further 38 per cent would withdraw an offer on a house if they discovered it suffered from rising damp.

So what exactly is rising damp, and what can you do about it to ensure happy tenants and buyers?

What is rising damp?

Rising damp is, put simply, the movement of groundwater up a building's walls by a process similar to how oil travels up a lamp's wick. This can occur either as a result of a property being built with no efficient damp course in the walls, (a physical barrier to prevent the passage of water) or because the original installed damp course has deteriorated.

The failing of a damp course can occur for a number of reasons and should therefore be a priority for home-owners and landlords when preparing a property to be let or sold.

How do I spot it?

Typical signs of rising damp are a tidemark on the wall’s surface, loose paint or peeling wallpaper and possibly some evidence of salts that have been carried up the wall within the water. Despite the aforementioned signs sounding obvious, rising damp can also stay fairly well hidden until it is too late, so make sure that you are checking any suspect areas as soon as you recognise these signs.

What can be done about it?

If you do find signs of rising damp in your property, you need to get in touch with property preservation experts, such as ourselves. Our specialist services can help you to make sure your property is damp free and ready to be put on the market.

In the majority of cases, repairing a wall suffering from rising damp is a simple and affordable process. We will repair the affected wall by using a chemical Damp Proof Course (DPC) and injecting it at regular intervals into the masonry. These chemical injections will then spread through the bricks to form a waterproof barrier and prevent any further damp from rising.

However, in more severe instances, we may recommend the installation of an electro-osmotic system. This method would involve a piece of titanium wire being installed within the walls through which an electric current can pass. The electrical current will repel the chemical attraction that draws moisture up the walls, and therefore prevent any further damp from rising. Electro-osmosis is particularly useful in older buildings with very thick walls or walls in poor condition, as it involves less disruption by drilling into the structure of the house.

These solutions will work to stop the damp from continuing to rise and grow within your property; however, they will not remedy the situation entirely. When any remedial DPC is installed, it is vital that internal walls are re-plastered, as the damp that has previously risen will have carried salts from the ground into the wall. These salts can cause serious on-going problems, for example, some of them are hygroscopic and attract atmospheric moisture to them, which can result in rising damp returning to the same wall quickly and easily.

What should I do now?

If you want to get rid of the rising damp in your property, or suspect your walls are suffering and would like your property to be surveyed, contact us on 01325 728039 or contact your regional office by email. If you have any questions, feel free to tweet us at @BCSPreservation.