Tell Tale Signs of Rising Damp

Unsure if you have a rising damp issue? One thing to remember when trying to identify a rising damp issue is that there are many forms of damp that can affect a property. Different damp issues will require different treatments. If you recognize and relate to the tell tale signs and pictures in this post, then we would suggest you consider professional rising damp treatment as early as possible. As with most damp problems, the longer you leave rising damp, the more expensive it can become to repair!

One of the most common tell tale signs are tide marks left on walls. Tide marks are caused by evaporation and salts from the ground. You will normally notice them anywhere up to 1 meter above the skirting board. If you do not notice tide marks, another very common sign is damp patches or staining. Typically, these damp patches are yellowish or brownish in colour and similar to tide marks.

Look out for paint coming off or peeling from the wall. Sometimes it will be small bits of paint/plaster and sometimes it can be larger areas. During the early stages the paint will begin to swell and “bubble” off the wall but will not peel/fall until something brushes against it. Once of the ways to detect early stage bubbling is to gently tap your knuckle against the wall and listen for a change in the sound it makes. Bubbling paint creates a hollow space and will therefore sound less sharp when tapped.

As with many forms of dampness, rising damp has the potential to cause rot within timbers it comes into contact with. Look out for skirtings that are cracked, easily crumble or localized fungus growing on or creeping out of the side.

Salts in the form of white fluffy deposits in the plaster are another clear tell tale sign. These salts are washed out of your bricks and into your plaster leaving what can look like blistering patches on your walls. Efflorescence (which means “to flower out” in French) is the migration of a salt to the surface of a porous material, where it forms a coating. The essential process involves the dissolving of an internally held salt in water, or occasionally in another solvent.

If you see black mold appearing above your skirting board it is a clear sign that there is some form of dampness affecting the area, especially if you have no other evidence of black mold within the property and the black mould is localised from the skirting board to up to 1 metre above the skirting. PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Stachybotrys chartarum (“black mold”), can cause everything from headaches to cancer, and Aspergillus mold can cause severe lung infections, or progress to whole-body infections. … There is evidence that some cases of SIDS may be related to toxic mold exposure. Therefore, if you do notice this damp, it should be dealt with immediately!
It is also important to note that rising damp only occurs on ground floor levels as it is moisture from the soil that is being drawn up the walls and thus causing the rising damp problem.
If it is the case that your damp problem is on the first floor or above, it may be that you have a condensation problem or a penetrating damp issue.

It is not uncommon to hear rising damp being misdiagnosed. Many individuals inexperienced with identifying rising damp issues may just assume that due to the usual tell tale sign of a tide mark on the wall that you have a rising damp issue. Before considering instructing any form of rising damp treatment, consider the following:
1) Do you have any faulty or leaking guttering that could lead to your damp issue? Is there vegetation growing out of the gutters?
2) Do you have faulty of leaking plumbing?
3) Have you had a damp proof course installed within the property over the last 20 years?
4) Is it a possible condensation problem?
5) Do you have cracks in the stonework or brick work?
6) Do you have damp staining on stonework particularly adjacent to pipes?
7) Do you have defecting pointing (Tile grout)?

Any of the property problems above could suggest that the initial damp issue you have is not rising damp. Contact Arcstone today for an assessment to find out exactly what type of damp you are experiencing and how best it can be repaired- Visit our website at, call 011 440 8939 or email