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Dampness can be a very common problem especially in older houses.

Solving the problem will naturally depend on the cause so you may have to do a little investigation first. Usually you can see or feel a damp patch. The walls or ceiling may have become discoloured as the chemical leaches out of the plaster or gone black as mildew starts to grow. If the dampness is left for a while it will cause more damage with peeling wallpaper, flaking paint and crumbling plaster.


If you have your house surveyed a surveyor will often use a little electronic gadget which measures damp. These are now available to DIYers. They have two little prongs which you dig into the wall and the damp meter gives a reading of dampness.

Use them to check for damp if it's not obvious. Then after you've done some work to stop the damp re-check the walls to see if they are drying out.

Using a Draper moisture checker to check for dampness in a wall.

Rising damp

If the walls on the ground floor are damp low down, or you have damp in the middle of a concrete floor you probably have rising damp and the damp proof membrane has failed or is non- existent. This is a job for the experts and may be quite disruptive. If you've got rising damp on the walls they will need to have removed a large portion of the plaster(usually at least a metre up from the floor) to install a water proof membrane, then re-plaster, then redecorate. Its expensive!

For more info. on rising damp check out this excellent site www.safeguardeurope.com

Rain water coming in

Causes of damp resulting from rain water coming in are: badly pointed brickwork/chimneys, broken roof slates, a leaking flat roof, blocked or broken gutters, badly sealed windows, leaking flashing.

See other sections on how to deal with these problems