rising damp on walls of a house

10 Signs of Rising Damp

Rising damp is when moisture is present on the walls of a building. It occurs when water from the ground rises through the walls as a result of capillary action. This means that groundwater is absorbed through small openings, such as thin gaps and holes. Building materials like stone and brick are particularly susceptible due to their porous structure.

Rising damp is more common in older buildings, but it can also occur in modern buildings if they do not have proper damp proofing or the damp-proof course (a waterproof layer built in the wall) is damaged. If rising damp is left untreated, it can cause extensive structural damage to your property.

Here are ten common signs that your property has rising damp.

1. Tide Marks

The most common sign of rising damp is a visible tide mark, typically about a metre high above floor level. These marks are caused by evaporation of the moisture and salts from the ground and can be visible on the interior and exterior of a building.

2. Damp Patches

Another indication that your property is affected by rising damp is the presence of damp patches or water stains on your walls. These are typically yellow or brown (or a combination of the two) in colour and are visible above the skirting board.

3. Peeling Wallpaper or Paint

Rising damp increases moisture levels within your walls, which can cause the wallpaper or paint around the skirting board to start peeling.

4. Rotting Skirting Boards

Along with visible damp patches and peeling wallpaper, rising damp can also cause the skirting boards that cover the lower part of a wall to rot or decay. Skirting boards are mainly for decorative purposes, but rising damp can be more serious if structural timbers start to rot.

5. Black Mould

Black mould is characterised by dark spots and is especially harmful to your health. It can spread over larger areas if the moisture is not dealt with. Black mould is a clear indication that dampness is affecting the area.

6. Formation of White Deposits

Efflorescence is a white deposit that is commonly found on porous surfaces, such as brick, stone, and concrete. The formation of these deposits occurs when water dissolves the natural salts within the materials and pushes them through to the surface.

7. Floor Coverings Lifting

Excessive moisture levels may push through a building’s concrete slab, causing the floor coverings to lift up or become loose.

8. Musty Odour

Even if the signs of rising damp aren’t obvious or visible, you can often smell damp or a musty odour around the affected areas.

9. Discolouration of Exterior Walls

Rising damp can cause discolouration on exterior walls due to the groundwater pushing through the porous materials. Examples include mouldy spots and black stains.

10. Corroded Bricks and Mortar

Brick is an extremely durable building material, but it can start to corrode if it stays wet for prolonged periods or the moisture problem is left untreated. The mortar between the bricks can also lose its adhesive properties and turn crumbly.

If you recognise any of these signs, then we strongly recommend damp proofing your property as soon as possible to prevent any further damage. Contact Danford Brewer & Ives on 01765 804050 or fill in our online form to arrange a site survey and have our professionals treat your rising damp problem.

why are my walls so cold

The Difference Between Rising Damp and Condensation

Dampness occurs when unwanted moisture is present in the structure of a building. It’s a major problem that affects many properties, as it can lead to growth of mould and even cause extensive structural damage. There are different types of damp, but rising damp and condensation are two of the most common that you might find in your home.

Being able to tell the difference is important. The type of damp affecting your property will determine the best treatment method and how to prevent it from occurring again. Here we’ll look at the differences between rising damp and condensation, and common signs to look for.

What Is Rising Damp?

Rising damp occurs when moisture from the ground moves through a wall via capillary action – narrow spaces such as cracks and small holes that push the flow of water upwards. Materials like concrete, stone, and brick are susceptible to rising damp because of their porous structure. Rising damp is common in older structures, but modern buildings can also be affected if the damp-proof course is damaged.

Here are common signs of rising damp:

  • Tide marks or water stains
  • Peeling plaster or wallpaper
  • Rotting skirting boards
  • Black mouldy spots
  • Floor coverings lifting up
  • Visible white deposits
  • Damp or musty odours

These signs can be visible on the interior and exterior of a building. Rising damp often leads to timber decay, which can cause structural damage to the property if left untreated. Treating rising damp isn’t just a matter of replacing the plaster or skirting boards. The source of the problem itself needs to be treated or the problem will recur.

Treating rising damp typically consists of removing and repairing all affected areas, and installing a damp-proof course (a waterproof horizontal strip) directly into the wall above ground level. The damp-proof course prevents groundwater from flowing through the wall. Because of the work involved, professional damp proofing is strongly recommended.

What Is Condensation?

Condensation is another damp problem – perhaps the most common – that affects all property types. It occurs when warm air comes into contact with cool surfaces. Condensation frequently occurs in rooms that have a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Common signs of condensation include:

  • Water droplets on window panes or walls
  • Appearance of black mould
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Musty smells

If condensation isn’t treated right away, it can develop into longer-lasting problems. These can include damage to the paint or plaster, and the growth of mould across a surface. Mouldy environments are a serious concern, as they can become a health hazard for you and your family.

Improving the ventilation of moisture-prone areas can help to reduce condensation problems. This can be as simple as opening windows and using a dehumidifier or an extractor fan to control humidity levels. Regularly wiping down walls and window frames with soapy water can also help to prevent the growth of black mould.

If problems like rising damp and condensation continue to plague your property, contact Danford Brewer & Ives on 01765 804050 or via our online form to have our damp-proofing specialists conduct a full site survey.

How to Reduce Gas Bills By Insulating Your Home

Top Tips for Keeping Your Home Damp-Free

Damp in homes is a common issue. Recent research suggests that around 11% of homes will have noticeable signs of damp. Whether it is black spots around the bathtub or condensation on the window, most of us could recognise the signs. But, if left untreated, damp can cause some serious issues. Not only can it lead to expensive home repairs but it can also affect your health. Modern building regulations require buildings to install damp proof course and damp-proof membranes into the wall and floors, which helps in preventing damp significantly.

When it comes to damp, prevention is the best way forward. Follow these steps to keep damp outside of your home.

Look for Signs of Damp

You might not notice you have damp until the obvious signs appear. But by this point, it can be too far gone for a quick fix. It is important you keep an eye out so if damp does occur you catch it fast.

A telling sign of damp is mould. This could be dark spots on the grouting in your bathroom or discoloured patches on walls. Another sign is condensation on your windows. This means there is excess moisture in the air and can be accompanied by little puddles of water on your windowsills. Also, stay aware of any musty smells and look inside the backs of cabinets and cupboards for any wet or discoloured patches.

You shouldn’t always wait for these signs. Get into the habit of checking around your home. If walls are cold or damp to the touch, you should pay more attention moving forward. And be wary of any plumbing that is loose or old as this could leak.

Outside maintenance

A little bit of outside maintenance can go a long way in reducing your chances of damp. Check your roof regularly, especially after a storm, to make sure it is all intact and there are no leaks. Also, try to keep your gutters clear of leaves or debris. If you notice any problems, make sure you fix them sooner rather than later before damp has the chance to spread.

Regulate temperature

A key factor of damp is condensation that is caused by excess moisture in your home. A way to avoid condensation is to regulate your home’s temperature. If you set your thermostat to a lower temperature but keep it on for longer, you avoid sudden rises or falls. It is these quick changes in temperature that lead to condensation.

It is also worth considering double-glazed windows if you don’t already have them. They prevent warm air from inside the house hitting the cold glass of an outside window.

Minimise moisture

You can buy dehumidifiers to keep around your house which will capture excess moisture from the air. You also want to avoid drying clothes around your house as this will be counterproductive to your moisture reduction efforts.


As well as reducing the amount of moisture inside the property, you want to allow any moisture to escape quickly.

Consider installing extractor fans in your bathroom or kitchen if you don’t have them already. If you do have them, make sure they are on for plenty of time to allow any moisture to escape.

A simple tip is to open your windows wherever possible. It isn’t ideal in the colder months, but it is extremely effective at getting the moisture out. If your windows have it, make use of the option to lock them slightly ajar so you minimise the cold air getting in.

Act fast

In some cases, you will notice damp in your home but it will be advanced enough to need larger intervention. If the damp is severe, act fast to get the necessary solution. You want to solve whatever is causing your damp quickly before the fix becomes even more expensive.

Damp can be a massive inconvenience for renters and homeowners alike. And, unfortunately, it is fairly common and will affect a lot of us. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to reduce your chances of being caught out. If you do find damp in your home, act fast and damp proof it sooner rather than later.

At Danford Brewer & Ives, we are equipped to tackle all sorts of damp issues. Whether you have a rising damp, penetrating damp, or condensation problem, we can take the necessary steps to stop and rectify the damage. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner your home can be damp-free. If you have any questions, get in touch on 01765 804050.

house featuring lawn

A Simple Guide for Buying or Selling a House with Dry Rot

Buying or selling a house with dry rot can be a big challenge for both the buyer and seller. Dry rot can cause serious structural damage to a property and, in almost all cases, banks will refuse mortgages on homes where dry rot is present.

If you’re trying to sell a house with dry rot, it’s in your best interest to treat the dry rot before placing the property on the market. If you live in a place where dry rot is a common problem, it is highly advised that you have your home inspected professionally before putting it up for sale.

Equally, it’s important to inspect a property for dry rot and other problems, before you attempt to purchase it, otherwise you may find yourself left with expensive repair bills further down the line.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a house with dry rot, the team at Danford Brewer & Ives is here to explain everything you need to know.

What Is Dry Rot?

Dry rot is a type of fungi that spreads rapidly while showing very few signs of visible damage. But it can cause underlying structural problems if left untreated.  Dry rot can be found in timbers, where fungi eat their way through the material, using wood as a source of nutrition. The fungal spores then move through the wood, leaving behind a trail of damage and destruction. Because timbers are often hidden away, dry rot can remain out of sight until serious damage becomes visible.

The fungal spores that cause dry rot are activated by damp conditions, however it’s important to note that dry rot is different from wet rot. In comparison to wet rot, dry rot is more dangerous, as it requires less moisture to thrive and spread.

What Are the Signs of Dry Rot?

As a buyer or seller, it’s important to keep your eyes open and be aware of the first signs of dry rot. If dry rot isn’t taken seriously, it won’t only cause expensive damage, it can decrease the value of a property or render it unsellable.

If you purchase a property only to find out later that it has dry rot, it would be on your shoulders to treat the issue if you don’t want to have to deal with further structural damage.

Because it’s so important to spot dry rot, especially before buying a property, we always recommend having a professional damp and timber survey carried out.

However, there are a few signs that might help you to detect dry rot:

  • Pungent smell
  • Puckered wood or bumpy wood
  • Soft or spongy wood
  • Wood cracks
  • Paint cracks or chipping
  • Wood discolouration

If you see any of these signs, the team at Danford Brewer & Ives can carry out a thorough, detailed survey of the property.

Should I Buy a House with Dry Rot?

If you discover that the house you’re hoping to buy has dry rot, it’s inadvisable to purchase it in its current state. In fact, if the property has dry rot, banks are unlikely to even approve a mortgage.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate with the seller and bank. If dry rot is found, a bank could approve a mortgage on the condition that the current owner treats the dry rot before the sale is completed.

If you’re a cash buyer, the same principles apply. If dry rot is discovered, you can ask the current owner to fix the issues or negotiate a discount that would cover the cost of the work later.

Can I Sell a House with Dry Rot?

If you’re attempting to sell a house with dry rot, you’ll find it extremely difficult. Banks only approve mortgages on the condition that a survey is carried out before the purchase. This pre-purchase survey would identify any dry rot and other related issues of dampness, rot, or mould, thus making the house unsellable or seriously depreciating its market value.

If you want to sell your home, it’s a good idea to have it inspected for dry rot before placing it on the market. If problems are identified, having them fixed will help the property to keep its value and make the sale process much more efficient.

How Can Dry Rot Be Treated?

You might think that it isn’t essential to treat dry rot before selling a house. However, it can have a significant impact on its selling price. If a buyer detects dry rot, you will likely get a lower price for your house in comparison to the amount you pay for treatment.

But dry rot can be treated, although the treatment and costs depend on how far the dry rot has spread and how much damage has been caused.

If dry rot is mostly on the surface of the wood and has not penetrated deep into it or if it has not caused any structural damage to the property, then it’s likely that you will pay less for treatment.

Sometimes, dry rot treatment can be as simple as cleaning the dry rot using a specialist wood treatment or fungicide. This is followed by a fresh coat of wood paint to stop dry rot from returning in the future. In this instance, dry rot treatment costs remain low while you raise the value of your home at the same time.

If dry rot has been left untreated, then it may spread through the timbers. If timbers have been seriously decayed, they may need removing and replacing. This is when dry rot treatment becomes expensive, as a lot of work is needed to ensure the structural stability of the home.

Due to potential damage dry rot can cause, if you are purchasing a house where dry rot is a problem, it is advised that you take a professional with you to ensure there is no chance of missing any signs.

An expert will not only investigate dry rot, but they’ll also tell you the scale of damage. Detecting the extent of dry rot requires experience and expertise, so a professional’s help is a much better idea than trying to investigate dry rot by yourself.

If you have already bought a home and have consequently found signs of dry rot, hiring a professional to investigate should be your top priority. After investigation, have the dry rot treated as soon as possible to stop it from spreading and causing devastating damage to your new property.

Contact Danford Brewer & Ives to Find Out More About Buying or Selling a Home with Dry Rot

If a property has dry rot, it will lose value and become difficult to buy or sell. If you’re planning on putting your home on the market or if you’re interested in purchasing a property, it’s essential to have a professional inspection carried out.

Danford Brewer & Ives can check properties for dry rot, in addition to other issues such as wet rot or damp that may cause problems for buyers and sellers. Contact our experienced team today to find out more.


Cellar Conversion Costs

Cost Considerations You Should Keep In Mind Before Converting Your Basement or Cellar

You may have seen some fantastic basement or cellar conversions around in your friend’s home or on the internet, and you may be tempted to jump in headfirst into a basement conversion project in your own home, then you must curb your enthusiasm and proceed with caution.

Like all building projects, cellar conversions and installations need money and planning because costs quickly pile up and get out of hand, if you are unprepared.

The advantages of installing a cellar or a cellar conversion are numerous. One of the most significant rewards is the value that a cellar conversion can add to your property. Additionally, a cellar is extra space that you can use for leisure, storage, as a spare bedroom or even an annexe.

Following are some significant considerations that should be kept in mind before you start with cellar conversions:

Size and Plan for the Area

A major price-deciding factor is the size of your property and the size of the cellar conversion.  Converting an existing cellar will cost less than installing a new one which requires digging and underpinning a new cellar can cost anywhere from £2,000 to £3,000 per m²per.

Lowering the floor level and underpinning will cost up to £2,000 per m². Plaster and renovations will cost between £700 and £1500 per m².

Your plan for an area will also have a direct impact on the cost of the cellar conversion. Are you setting up a bathroom? If yes, then it will require plumbing and drainage. Will you have a swimming pool in the cellar? If yes, then you will need to increase the budget for damp proofing.

Lighting and the addition of proper ventilation will increase the cost significantly.

Planning Permission and Regulation Fees

If you are doing any building or conversions in your house, you have to be a 100% sure that they abide by your local building regulation, so before you proceed, check with the local council or LPA. It is likely that you will need to get permission before you start and submit your building plan for approval. All this will add to the cost of your cellar conversions.

Additional Jobs

Your cellar conversion may result in a few extra jobs that need to be paid for including diverting plumbing pipes, moving the boiler, additional waterproofing, removing excavated materials, and more jobs. Thus, you should be prepared to add these into your budget.

Engineer and Contractor Fees

You will have to pay the engineer and the professionals for their work. Some companies will provide end-to-end services. Otherwise, you will have to hire a different professional for different jobs. Ask for no-obligation quotes to get an idea of the costs before you settle on a service for cellar conversions.

Research and preparations will help you evade the undesirable scenario of leaving the conversion half done. After all, no one wants a half dug up cellar or basement with no more money to complete the job.

rotten old wooden window frame

How to Inspect Your Windows and Doors for Wood Rot

Guide to Inspecting Your Windows and Doors for Wood Rot

Wood rot initially might not appear to be a big problem. It may often go completely obscure. Essentially, dry wood rot is a fungus that spreads and grows in the moist areas within the wood. Windows and doors are at high risk of wood rot. Therefore, you would have to keep an eye on every change in your windows and doors.

Dry rot is more dangerous than wet rot. The sooner you will detect dry rot in your windows and doors; more are the chances that you will be able to fix the problem without spending a ton of money. However, if you delay the wood rot inspection and detect it when it is too late, then you would be left with no other choice but to replace the wood. In the worst case, the dry wood rot can cause structural damage to your home.

To stay on the safe side, inspecting dry wood rot should be on your to-do list regularly; especially for the parts of the house that are exposed to water or receives the most rainfall. Older homes are at a higher risk of dry wood rot as compared to homes built within two years. If you detect dry wood rot, fixing it should be on top of your to-do list because you should never delay its treatment on your windows and doors.

There are a few signs that might help you detect wood rot:

Wood Feels Soft to Touch:

The wood should never feel soft! If your wood feels soft or spongy, you should immediately check for dry rot.


If you see that colour of your window or door is changing, then it might be an indicator of dry rot. If your wood is painted, you might see signs like paint chipping or crackers before wood discolouration is apparent.

Wood Starts To Pucker Or Crack:

Cracks or splitting can occur due to several reasons; however, if your window or door has started to pucker or bump, then it is a clear sign of dry rot.

Dry Rot Smell:

If your windows and/or doors have dry rot, it might emit a musty, fungal and damp smell. The smell does not indicate the intensity/level of dry rot; however, it plays a crucial role in detecting dry rot at an early stage.

If you inspect any of these signs, you should contact a professional to investigate the damage and get help to resolve the problem. However, you can start the inspection yourself by poking the wood with a knife or a screwdriver. If the wood has dry rot, you will be able to poke a hole in wood easily. Damp rot signs are usually more visible; thus, it is possible to take care of it and fix it on time. Whereas, dry rot acts more like a silent killer for wood.

types of damp

Which Kind of Damp is Affecting my Home?

Which Kind of Damp is Affecting my Home?

Damp in homes is a common problem that most of us come across at one time or another. Although, it may not seem like a big problem at first, damp in its various forms can wreak havoc if you do not take proactive measures.

Damp can lead to problems that can jeopardize the structural integrity of your home, and it can cause serious health problems. Most of us are aware that there are many types of damp. However, differentiating between them can be often tricky. The initial step of treating or preventing damp is to identify the kind of damp that is affecting your home.

Condensation, rising damp and penetrating damp are the three main types of damp in residential properties, and each requires different treatment. Let’s discuss each type in more detail:


Condensation is the most common type of damp found in homes, and it occurs when hot air with high humidity levels cools down on the walls and other surfaces of the house. You can easily find condensation in rooms during winters like the kitchen and bathroom where the air has a lot of moisture and walls are generally cooler than the inside of the house.

The common symptoms of condensation are visible water droplets on windows, door glass, and walls. Also, an unpleasant moldy smell and dark mould can grow on the glass, especially on windows.

Poor ventilation and high humidity levels are significant condensation causes in homes. To solve this issue, you must install artificial systems to increase ventilation and decrease the moisture in the air. If condensation is left untreated, it can result in the growth of mould that destroys paint, plaster and wooden structures.

Penetrating Damp

Penetrative damp may become evident during and after heavy rainfall because it occurs due to moisture penetrating the walls through cracks or leaks in the wall, roof, faulty plumbing or guttering.

The signs of penetrating damp include dark patches on walls and roof that darken after rain or water exposure. These dark patches can expand horizontally.

Damp is common in older buildings as the modern style of wall insulation prevents moisture from getting insignificantly. However, if you have leaking pipes in sinks, then a newly built home can face this problem too.

Rising Damp

As the name suggests, rising damp rises from the ground and spreads up to the walls because it is caused by moisture that moves up from the floor through the walls. Rising damp occurs when the ground outside your home has poor drainage or retains too much moisture.

You can identify rising damp by the dark, wet marks that rise up the wall, damaging wall paint and leaving white powdery salt-like substance from the water. Rising damp starts from the ground and thus damages floors.

Modern building regulations require buildings to install damp proof course and damp proof membranes into the wall and floors, preventing damp significantly. The damp proof course is a plastic or bitumen felt strip that is built into the walls, whereas damp proof membrane is laid underneath the floor and is made out of waterproof material.

rotten old wooden window frame

Your Essential Guide To Dry Rot Prevention

Essential Guide To Preventing Dry Rot

Almost everyone has heard of the saying “Prevention is better than cure,”. However, in the case of dry rot, which is one of the top destroyers of wood, this saying fits well.

Wise homeowners are proactive about their approach towards dry rot infestation, and you should be too! Unfortunately, dry rot can set in from very little damp in wood. However, if you are vigilant, you can prevent dry rot in your home in the first place.

What Is Dry Rot?

Dry rot is a menace that destroys the wood from the inside out. In essence, dry rot is a fungus that causes the wood to lose its stiffness and structural integrity, leaving it weak and rotted. Despite its name, dry rot needs moisture to start.

According to the experts, houses with poor ventilation and high humidity or moisture are often affected by it. Once the dry rot fungus infests wood, it requires little to no water or moisture to spread, and then, it spreads quickly throughout wooden structures. Unfortunately, most people are unable to identify the signs of dry rot infestation. However, you can take measures to prevent it from getting a foothold.

How To Prevent Dry Rot?

As explained earlier, homes with high levels of humidity and poor airflow are prone to dry rot. Therefore, to prevent dry rot from setting in, here are a few guidelines:

Inspect Your Roof for Leaks and Repair Them

Look at your roof from the inside and the outside. If you wish to be thorough, look for leaks and repair them immediately because moisture and water can get in from even the smallest of leaks, which can then end encouraging dry rot.

Inspect the Ventilation

Proper ventilation is essential to keep wood dry and prevent air from getting too damp. Thus, you can check the ventilation in your home to make sure all areas are adequately ventilated. Crawl spaces and the attic are usually the poorly ventilated areas in a property. Therefore, pay attention to them and make adjustments where necessary.

Inspect the Insulation

Poor insulation, as well as the incorrect installation of insulation,  can lead to conditions that cause dry rot. Make sure that your home is adequately insulated, especially the attic floor and walls.

Inspect The Plumbing

A leaking pipe from poor plumbing can result in water exposure where you don’t want it. Make sure that all the plumbing work in your home is done properly and there are no hidden leaks causing trouble. Moreover, repair all leaks immediately

Dry Out Damp Wood

If for some reason, the wood structures of your house get wet, then make sure you dry out the area thoroughly.

How To Prevent Dry Rot From Spreading?

If you have identified that dry rot has started they you have to be quick to stop it in its tracks to prevent it from spreading and wreaking havoc.

Applying a fungicide with borate to kill fungus is one of the best ways to prevent dry rot. However, this solution will only prove to be useful if the dry rot issue is not in an advanced stage; otherwise, you will have to replace wood to stop dry rot from spreading. You can call in a professional who can give expert advice on how you can treat the dry rot properly.