Relevant national standards covering the treatment of Rising Damp, Woodworm, Dry Rot, and Condensation 

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Rising Damp Proofing Lurgan | Belfast | Northern Ireland


What Is Rising Damp?

Rising damp in buildings may be defined as the upwards flow of moisture through a permeable wall structure, the moisture being derived from groundwater. The moisture rises through the pores (capillaries) in the masonry by a process loosely termed ‘capillarity’, which causes the masonry to act like a wick.

Picture of wall showing risingn damp


Woodworm holes found in timber are caused by the larvae of beetles that feed on the timber. Larger holes on the surface of the timber are formed when the adult beetle emerges from the timber to mate.

There are a number of species of woodworm, and the precise method of treatment will depend on which species is attacking the timber..

Dry Rot

Dry rot is a wood-destroying fungus that is found in most parts of the world. Although it affects forest timbers, dry rot is best known for its ability to destroy timbers in ships and buildings.

It is important to identify whether timber decay has been caused by dry rot or another wood-destroying fungus such as one of the wet rots. This is because dry rot has the ability to travel through building materials other than timber, giving outbreaks the potential to spread quickly through a building. For this reason additional measures (e.g. masonry sterilisation) often have to be taken when treating dry rot outbreaks over and above those necessary when dealing with outbreaks of other wood-rotting fungi.

dry rot in roof throughout beams
dry rot damage in beams


Condensation is by far the most common cause of dampness in buildings, probably accounting for the majority of damp problems reported. It affects both old and new buildings, but it appears to be a significant problem where the building has been modernised.

Condensation is directly associated with mould growth. It is this that the occupier sees first, and it gives an indication of the potential scale of the problem. The mould is usually found on decorative surfaces, especially wallpapers, where it can cause severe and permanent spoiling. In many cases, the mould and its spores (‘seeds’) give rise to complaints about health, and cause the “musty” odour frequently associated with a damp house.

The obvious places for condensation to occur are on cold walls, wiondows, and floors, but it can also occur in roof spaces and in sub-floor areas where there is a timber suspended floor; in the latter case, it can lead to dry rot or wet rot developing in floor timbers.


Health Effects

It has been widely documented that excessive dampness in buildings can have negative effects on the health of the building’s occupants

Graph showing moisture and conductivity

What Causes Rising Damp?

Rising damp occurs when moisture from the ground is “sucked” into the porous building materials from which walls are constructed through a process known as “capillarity”. This effect can be demonstrated by placing a sample of brick, mortar, or porous stone in a shallow tray of water, see image.

Additional Information

Local Climate – rising damp will often rise higher in colder locations

Winter vs Summer – In a European climate damp tends to rise higher during the wetter, colder winter months. Northerly Aspect – height of rise tends to be higher on walls with a northerly aspect (in Northern Hemisphere) as these walls are cooler than those with a southerly aspect

Unheated house – evaporation is lower in unheated (or unoccupied) homes than in heated homes Thick walls – have lower evaporation rates than thin walls as their surface area is proportionally lower (see Figure 3).

diagram of rising damp show evaporation levels

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