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Is Rising Damp a Myth? Unveiling the Truth with AMS SURVEYS

Updated: Mar 9

Damp Surveyor


It's not uncommon to come across buildings showing signs of wear, particularly dampness. This scenario raises alarm and curiosity among property owners and experts about the nature and impact of rising damp. At AMS SURVEYS, we're at the forefront of demystifying this condition, offering clarity and solutions to concerned property stakeholders. Rising damp is a topic of much debate, but what does the evidence say? Let's explore the reality behind this phenomenon.

What is Rising Damp?

The theory behind Rising damp is essentially moisture movement from the ground up through porous building materials due to capillary action. It manifests as tide marks, peeling wallpaper, and damp patches on walls, which are not just unsightly but potentially harmful to the structure. The principle underlying this process is capillary action, where water defies gravity, moving through the tiny pores of materials like brick and mortar.

The Myth vs. Reality

Dampness Survey

The concept of rising damp is often surrounded by myths and misconceptions. Some argue it's a problem confined to the past, while others believe that modern construction techniques have rendered buildings immune to it. However, rising damp is a real concern, affecting both old and newer buildings. It's crucial to differentiate between genuine rising damp and other forms of moisture, as misdiagnosis can lead to ineffective treatments, wasted resources, additional cost and in some cases make the problem worse.

Diagnosing Rising Damp

Damp and Timber Survey

The accurate identification of rising damp is a complex process that requires the expertise of Building Surveyors, such as those at AMS SURVEYS. Utilising advanced diagnostic tools like moisture meters, hygrometers, and chemical testing, our team can distinguish rising damp from other damp issues, ensuring that remedial building work is appropriate. As we are totally independent, our damp and timber surveys have an unbiased view on the work specified whereas many companies offer damp surveys and will specify a fix it and you get a guarantee but you need to pay them to fix it, usually thousands and the guarantees are as strong as dry spaghetti. In most cases great marketing and sales usually results in the wrong diagnosis/solution and a costly mistake. Trust me you don't need to spend £5,000 on a chemical injected damp proof course. You likely need to carry out much cheaper repairs.

The introduction of the Damp Proof Course (DPC)

DPCs became compulsory in London circa 1875. Typically a layer of slate was also employed as a DPC, which later became bitumen and then the modern version which is plastic. However there is a variance in when properties exactly had DPCs installed between 1875 and around 1920-1945, due to building standards and the obvious two world wars. Around the same time Cavity Wall construction became more prevalent, as such penetrating damp became less of an issue too. Anything built after this period will generally have a DPC and I'm still to come across a property with a DPC that has rising damp caused by a failed DPC, what I have found is thousands misdiagnosed retrospectively installed chemical injected DPCs. Which usually results in damp after time rearing its ugly head once more. There are many building defects that can cause dampness which manifests as rising damp, such as high ground levels under floors or external areas. That is where you need an Expert Building Surveyor to thoroughly investigate and specify the correct remedy.

What about buildings before DPCs?

The simple answer is they got damp. However, using materials that are breathable such as lime plaster, this allowed the building to evaporate moisture from the walls externally in the fresh air, wind and sunshine, internally through ventilation of draughty windows and doors, the use of fireplaces and a difference in the style of living. This allowed the walls to quickly evaporate and remove the moisture from the walls into well heated and ventilated spaces. Often walls were also hidden behind timber paneling now back in vogue!! We also specialise in Traditional, Heritage and Listed Buildings

Effective Solutions

So in most properties unless it's very old, it's likely you got a perfectly good DPC. So unlike most don't jump to the conclusion of rising damp. However, treating 'rising damp' symptoms varies from property to property, repairing drainage, removing inappropriate renders and plaster to improving ventilation. Damp is a condition that demands a customised approach, considering the specific needs and characteristics of each property and the cause. AMS SURVEYS specialises in crafting and implementing strategies that not only address the symptoms but also protect against future moisture intrusion, as supported by both practical experience, scientific and intrusive investigation and expert professional knowledge.

Misdiagnosis and Incorrect Repair of Damp

Rising Damp

Here is a great example of a company installing a chemical inject damp proof course. The special chemicals are being installed too high in the wall and dampness will allow the timber floor to decay and rot if that wall is actually damp. This process is usually carried out on both sides of the wall. This tells me either the installer doesn't know where a DPC should be installed or it can't be installed low enough in the correct place because the ground level is too high.

Find out more about our Damp Surveys.

Case Studies and Testimonials

Our experience with properties across Cheshire, Lancashire, Liverpool, Manchester and beyond showcases our success in combating damp, evidenced by our portfolio of resolved cases and positive feedback from clients. These real-life examples illustrate our commitment to restoring and preserving the structural integrity and aesthetic value of buildings affected by dampness.

FAQs about Rising Damp:

Is rising damp always the cause of moisture in older buildings?

Not necessarily. It's important to accurately diagnose damp issues, as many factors can contribute to moisture in a building. Proper diagnosis by professionals like AMS SURVEYS can ensure that the true cause is identified and appropriately treated.

Can rising damp be misdiagnosed?

Yes, misdiagnosis is very common, often leading to unnecessary, inappropriate and extremely costly treatments, which don't solve the problem. AMS SURVEYS uses thorough diagnostic tools, chemical testing and analysis and intrusive investigation, where necessary to distinguish between rising damp and other damp issues.

What are some common misconceptions about rising damp?

A common misconception is that rising damp is an outdated problem or that it doesn't affect newer buildings. Rising damp symptoms, can affect any building if conditions allow it, regardless of its age.

What should I do if I suspect rising damp in my property?

If you suspect rising damp, it's best to contact a professional independent surveying company like AMS SURVEYS to conduct a comprehensive assessment and provide tailored solutions. We survey buildings from Listed and Historic Buildings through to New Builds showing our depth of knowledge and expertise.


Despite the debates, rising damp is somewhat true to a degree but often misdiagnosed, it can be resolved with the right expertise and intervention. If you're facing damp-related concerns, AMS SURVEYS is here to provide a professional assessment and tailored solutions. Contact us through our website at, via email at, or by calling 0151 314 6650. Let us help you ensure the health and longevity of your property.

Take action against damp by consulting with the damp experts at AMS SURVEYS. Our team is equipped to offer the guidance and solutions you need, safeguarding your property's value and ensuring a healthy environment. Schedule a survey with us today and take the first step towards a damp-free property.

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