Rising damp, these are the words no house owner wanted to hear, nor any new buyer expects to see that on their house survey.
Although this kind of damp issue is generally very uncommon, this can be an incredibly expensive matter for many UK households.
Typically, residences built following 1875 have been constructed with protective damping systems, but you might not have such defensive structures when you have a much older home.
What is Rising Damp?
Rising damp may occur when the dampness at the bottom of the building begins to grow via porous walls.
The damp will be visible on the lower sections of a wall, about a meter high, including sturdy, concrete floors.
You may also realize that it appears to be much worse all through rainy weather, as the walls have far more liquid to absorb.
The signs can be mistaken as rain or rain splash only, but this requires close analysis.
Using a damp-proof course/DPC in housing construction was only made common during 1875, and so many earlier Victorian and Georgian houses have been constructed without one.
Nevertheless, many of these conventional structures still lasted many years without significant damp issues, though there may be signs of growing dampness owing to subsequent modifications or inadequate upgrades to the structure.
The damp-proof course keeps existing moisture from rising. It is a horizontal water-resistant layer set in the lower portion of the brick, stone, or concrete walls too.
Early Victorian homes were using slate, much like the parts seen on period roofs.
Signs of Rising Damp
Predominantly you will find rising damp well into the bottom floor of the property as dark spots on the lower part meter of the outer wall. Much of this is below the floors, therefore check under the edges of the skirting boards.
One sign is the rusting of screws and nails in the skirting board, and perhaps even the wood itself is decaying. Some indications show cracking cement, flaking of paint, or wall art, including chalky salt stains and discoloration.
The salinity of the groundwater leaves a powdery residue. You may see that the damp spots become much worse in the wet season.
Causes of Rising Damp
If a property does not have a DPC within its walls or a damp-proof membrane/DPM beneath its concrete floors, or if such protection layers are compromised perhaps, then the water will climb above the base of the building and gradually lift its true face in the ground floor areas.
Rising damp can sometimes triggered by the bottom floor being elevated, as when a heap of dirt is stacked up against an outside wall, or the area beside the house has been paved.
When the land surface next to the walls is higher, it will serve as a path for soaring groundwater, enabling it to circumvent the DPC. The condition may escalate where there is poor drainage to extract rainwater from the house.
Damp Proofing Treatment
Generally speaking, there are still no quick solutions to the problem of how to combat rising damp. If you believe that you might have rising damp in your house, the first move would be to get an expert analysis as to whether you have it.
It is indeed worth a second, third, and fourth review if you don’t want to pay for wasteful services. This would include searching for the sources of the moisture, particularly about the design, age, and location of your house.
Older buildings, before 1919, should necessarily require a surveyor with expertise and knowledge of historic buildings.
Rising damp is sometimes misdiagnosed, so it’s necessary to make sure that it’s definitely a concern before actually starting treatment. Evaluate whether the problem may be caused by condensation, leaking of tubing, broken plumbing, defective gutter, clogged air bricks, or inadequate ground drainage.
Interventions that enable your properties to ‘breathe’ are essential to managing increasing moisture levels. The Building Research Establishment advises that any other process used to upgrade a damp-proof course should have a third-party certification.
But,even before the specialist arrives, you may take a look at the outside wall wherein the dampness is happening. First, inspect if the wall is a solid brick or a stone, or just a hollow wall, then look down for a damp-proof path.
Any flaw might be the cause of damp rising, so it would take a slow cycle of repair and removal.
You should make sure your house is well ventilated. While this isn’t going to directly solve your rising damp problem, it’s going to prevent it from getting worse. Ventilation is particularly necessary for old properties that have suffered from a rising damp issue in the previous years.
Try to ensure that the air will flow easily between the basement and the ground floor. Eliminate the vinyl flooring or the rubber-backed carpet and substitute it with a breathable fabric. Doing so will encourage fresh air circulation as well as dry out the damp inner wall. Use the extractor fans including dehumidifiers to maintain the low humidity levels in your property.
Does Home Insurance Cover Rising Damp?
Several building and content home insurance plans do not cover you for damages incurred by dampness as well as condensation. When you register for home insurance, you ought to commit to a list of conditions, one of which is that your house is in a ‘healthy’ state.
For your guidance, the RICS has a list of the risks of rising damp to the current state of the property. If your house is getting damp, it’s not in decent shape. Refusal to notify your insurer might place you at risk of losing your policy.
Some insurers provide additional protection for rising damp, but it is usually best to clean the house regularly to reduce the risk of the damp causing significant and costly damages.
And this is why we highly suggest that a property survey must be conducted by damp proofing experts in determining the state of the house and to consult on any repair that needs to be completed.
This will save on costs, as well as intrusive maintenance services that may not be compensated by your home insurance.
Can I claim for rising damp on my home/landlord insurance policy?
Buildings, content, and landlord insurance plans do not normally cover incremental disintegration, which is the context in which damp incidents typically fall. This is particularly true with rising dampness, which insurers prefer to view as only ever connected with a steady deterioration in the condition of the property.
It is important to double-check the exemptions and provisions listed in the policy statements first, but the probability is that you will need to plan and finance the maintenance yourself.
Before starting with any project, make sure to contact several trustworthy damp experts to guarantee that the damp situation in your property will be correctly treated and also that you pay a reasonable amount.
Why You Cannot Claim for Damage Resulting from Rising Damp on House or Building Insurance?
To be able to claim the costs of repairs on your insurance policy, the damage must be as a result of a definable event. Rising damp, as a result of a defect in the property – either structurally or otherwise – that is not of the direct result of a single event, will not be covered.
Rising damp is likely caused by damage to the Damp Proof Course (DPC), with cracks in the membrane, slate bed, or other DPC material allowing for moisture to rise through the materials of the wall which, eventually, leads to damp spots in the home. Such damage is likely to occur over many years.
Despite the reality that a wide range of home insurance policies are available, your existing household and content insurance seems to be unable to protect against rising damp or any other method of rising damp treatment within your premises.
So, it’s best to get a dedicated rising damp insurance policy.
It offers insurance protection against the troubling issues and hazards related to that damp problems.
What does my rising damp insurance policy cover?
The insurance policy typically covers all forms of dampness within your property that arise as a direct consequence of Rising Damp.
It involves carrying out inspections to determine the cause and suggested solution needed to solve the rising damp, the construction of a chemical damp proof course in compliance with BS6576, if possible, and, if necessary, the restoration of the damaged walls.