Rising damp is caused by ground water which is moves up the walls through direct contact with the brickwork.
If your damp patches are appearing on your first floor or high up on a walls then it is unlikely that the problem is due to rising damp. You will normally notice the damage from rising damp appearing first around the skirting boards and floorboards, plaster will start to crumble and wallpaper and paint will start to peel off.
Every wall is likely to retain some water but usually it is stopped by a protective barrier called a damp-proof course. If this is missing or ineffective from your building then the walls may start to suffer from rising damp and you should seek assistance from a damp proofing surveyor.
Penetrating damp is cause by water leaking through the walls rather than rising up from ground level. This type of damp is usually caused by structural problems in a building such defective roofing, guttering or brickwork.
You can usually spot penetrating damp problems through the presence of watermarks that appear on the walls, damaged plaster, salt deposits, powdery surfaces and blistering or bubbles appearing on the plaster.
By far the most common form of dampness found in the home, condensation is caused from the moisture that is present in the air from cooking, cleaning, washing and breathing. This moisture enters the warm atmosphere and turns to condensation on contact with cool surfaces, or as it loses heat in cooler surroundings.
Condensation problems can be exacerbated by poorly installed or inefficient ventilation, and heating that comes on and off which allows warm, damp air to condense. What usually starts off as water droplets on windows and walls can soon turn to streaming windows and mould growth. The problem can quickly spread throughout a property and can cause serious damage to the structure. Unlike rising and penetrating damp, left untreated, condensation can be seriously harmful to your health.
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As you can imagine, with over 40 years experience in dealing with problems caused by damp, I am familiar with most typical scenarios. Many are complex and deep rooted, while others are extremely simple and straightforward.
In an endeavour to assist with problems, I offer a free five minute telephone conversation to anyone who wants a consultation. It's amazing how much time and money I've been able to save for people by providing this service.
All you have to do is email me with your telephone number and I'll contact you within a few days and have a chat. No catches or gimmicks. Just sound advice.
Please bear in mind that giving an opinion on the phone is nothing more than that - an opinion. Nothing can beat a thorough on site inspection by an expert.