It is a frequent worry for home owners and purchasers, but
is "rising damp" really as common as we are led
"Householders and even some surveyors are too quick
to assume that problems with dampness are caused by rising
damp. In fact, true rising damp is not very common. Because
the remedies for rising damp are so expensive it is doubly
important to ensure the diagnosis is correct before starting
Building Research Establishment (BRE) Good Repair Guide 6
- Treating Rising Damp in Houses - January 1997
The BRE, which until recently was UK Government funded, have
been highlighting that dampness was being misdiagnosed since
the early 1980's!
"Because of the high cost of remedial work, it is essential
that the diagnosis is as positive as possible to distinguish
between rising damp and other sources of damp."
BRE Digest 245 - January 1981 "Rising Damp in Walls:
Diagnosis and Treatment"
"Investigations have revealed many instances in which
systems intended to combat rising damp have been installed
in buildings where rising damp is not occurring. A frequent
reason for this has been a wrong interpretation of high readings
obtained when using an electrical moisture meter. Another
reason was the failure to recognize other causes of the damp
Building Research Advisory Service, Technical Information
Leaflet TIL 47 August 1982
"The diagnosis of rising damp needs careful and systematic
thought because it can easily be confused with penetrating
dampness and condensation. The Building Research Establishment
(BRE) have suggested that only 10% of the dampness problems
it investigates are attributable to rising damp. Unfortunately,
there are a number of companies specializing in d.p.c. replacement
who obviously have a commercial interest in finding problems
with rising damp. The diagnosis needs to be treated with caution.
Although there are several reputable companies working in
this field, it may be wise to seek independent advice. Further
"encouragement" to find problems of rising damp
is provided by banks and building societies who often request
a damp report as a condition of a mortgage advance.
Understanding Housing Defects (Estates Gazette) 1998
There are many contractors advertising specialist services
to remedy dampness by installing damp proof courses. Yet most
apparent rising dampness cannot be attributed to the absence
or failure of a damp proof course."
The Remedial Treatment of Buildings by Barry Richardson
THE NEED FOR ACCURATE DIAGNOSIS
"Dampness of one sort or another is the most common
problem in housing. It results in visible wetting of walls,
ceilings and floors, blistering paint, bulging plaster, mould
on the surfaces and fabrics and sulphate attack on brickwork
It can also lead to less obvious problems - thermal insulation
is reduced in effectiveness or brickwork because metal components
imbedded in it have corroded. As with all repair work, the
first step to solving any damp related problem is to diagnose
the cause correctly."
B.R.E. Good Repair Guide 5 - Diagnosing the Causes of
Dampness, January 1997
"Before any measures are undertaken, the problem should
be analyzed in order to identify the cause properly. In the
first instance professional advice should be obtained rather
than that of a specialist contractor."
The Repair of Historic Buildings (English Heritage) by
Often specialist remedial treatment companies report "they
have diagnosed rising damp" and specify remedial treatment
which is possibly inappropriate, to be carried out by themselves.