Have you noticed some peeling paint, or musty odors coming from your walls, particularly from parts closer to the ground? Or perhaps you’ve seen wet spots, even though there’s no obvious piping or source of water? If so, your home might be susceptible to a phenomenon known as rising damp. Rising damp is a type of moisture that manages to infiltrate the foundations of a building from the ground, and if left untreated it can cause serious damage to the foundations of your building. This type of damage is not likely to be covered by your typical homeowner’s insurance. This is because susceptibility to damage from rising dampness is preventable, while the dampness itself is not easily prevented, which almost guarantees that it will be a problem unless the building was explicitly designed to mitigate the dampness.
Rising Damp Is Hard to Avoid and Causes Serious Problems
To understand why rising damp is such a danger, we have to understand what exactly it is and how it works. On some properties, due to the local geography or topology, you can end up with an excess of groundwater on the property, particularly around buildings. This might not be very noticeable when walking around on a property, however, if there is excess groundwater, then the water has a chance to ruin the materials of the building.
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Specifically, many common types of building materials (think stone, concrete, or bricks) are porous and will soak up water, similar to how the edge of a napkin that is touching water will absorb a large portion of the water over time. This then allows the water to travel up the materials of the building, causes water damage. Sometimes, the damage can be mild, such as simple visual discoloration or peeling paint. Other times, the damage can be extensive, eroding mortar and ruining building integrity or causing a build-up of bacteria and mold.
Watch for Many Signs of Rising Damp
Rising damp is quite obvious as it is happening. Before you look for signs of rising damp, you can predict how susceptible a building will be to rising dampness based on the materials the lower part of the building is constructed out of. Materials such as stone, concrete, and bricks are extremely susceptible to rising damp, while high-density bricks, steel, glass, and certain kinds of non-porous stone (such as slate) are resistant to such problems.
Nevertheless, unless your house is made entirely out of glass and steel, it is likely that you may run into rising damp in certain susceptible areas. In this case, you’ll want to keep watch for signs of discoloration or wet spots behind the paint, or peeling paint. Rising damp can cause general molding problems, so you may also notice off-putting smells. Visible moss growth and even salt bands can sometimes be observed! These are all signs of rising damp.
It can be hard to tell rising damp apart from other water damage since there are a lot of overlapping symptoms. One of the most telling differences is on the location of damage: if the signs of water damage seem limited to the lower portion of walls, particularly those parts near the ground, you should suspect rising damp.
You Shouldn’t Rely on Your Insurance to Cover Rising Damp Repair Costs
Unfortunately, rising damp is unlikely to be covered by your standard insurance plan. Some insurance companies might offer standalone rising damp coverage, however, if you find damage due to rising damp, you should expect to cover it out of your own pocket.
Even worse, rising damp damage can weaken other, more legitimate claims: if some part of your home suffers water damage that is normally covered, but the damage is intermingled with damage from rising damp, it can reduce or potentially nullify claims that might normally be covered.
Fixing Rising Damp Doesn’t Have to Be Painful
The most straightforward way to fix rising damp is to simply replace the walls or structures with ones that are resistant to rising damp. There are also solutions that involve having an expert inspect and apply particular types of coatings or chemicals over the porous building material, which can help make it resistant to rising damp.