Some form of moisture in your home can cause problems, but rising humidity can be especially difficult to diagnose and get rid of. Fortunately, it is a relatively rare form of moisture because most houses are equipped with significant layers of moisture seal that prevent soil moisture from entering your home. However, it still poses a threat that all homeowners should be aware of, especially as it is an issue that is often not covered by home insurance. So without wasting more time, let’s dig deeper into what rising moisture is and how you can treat it.
What is rising moisture?
The name tells you almost everything you need to know – it is a form of moisture that rises from the ground. The ground, especially far below the surface, can be a very damp place, even if it has not rained in a few days. One of the reasons why tree roots grow so far below us is that the plant can get the water it needs from the depths. When the soil is very moist, porous materials such as brick, mortar and cement (ie the materials that many homes are made of) absorb moisture quite easily, much like a sponge that absorbs water, and this can be a problem.
What causes rising moisture?
Most houses, in fact almost all houses built after 1950, are equipped with a moisture-proof course. This is a membrane that prevents too much moisture from being absorbed by the porous materials that your home is made of. Without a moisture seal, the walls of your home are sensitive to rising moisture because they can absorb a lot of water, which could eventually cause major problems. The moisture can be visible on your walls and can even cause paint or wallpaper to peel off or plaster. If it is left long enough, black mold can also eventually start to grow, which can be bad for your health.
Fortunately, this simple membrane is the reason why many modern homes will never have this problem. Although rising humidity is a common problem in much older properties, it does not mean that a newer property will not get it at all. If you change the height of the ground surrounding your home, for example, installing a new driveway that comes above the moisture-proof, you may experience some moisture problems.
If you are buying a new homeIt is important to get a survey done so that issues like these can be discovered before you make a binding decision.
What does rising moisture look like?
In general, rising humidity will cause some of the following problems in your home:
- Crumbling plaster, peeling paint or loose wallpaper
- “Tide marks” on surfaces where the water has evaporated and left minerals behind
- Rust bracket made of steel or iron
- Black mold
- Respiratory problems in residents.
Below you will find three pictures that are all examples of rising humidity.
Example 1: Black mold
Example 2: Tide marks
Example 3: Peeling wallpaper
How to stop rising humid
Before you start treating the problem, you must first make sure that the moisture is actually caused by moisture from the ground. Rising humidity is quite uncommon and therefore it is important to make sure that there are no other problems. Condensation usually accumulates around windows, so it can be misdiagnosed as rising moisture. Check the area carefully and see if the wall is damp directly against the floor or skirting board. If not, it’s probably a condensation issue. If the damp patch is above ground level, such as the corner of a room, it is probably caused by something else, such as leaking gutters or ceilings.
Even if the moisture is in a place where it can very likely be rising moisture, other problems may be the culprit, such as a leaking pipe or a blockage in an air stone. This is why it is worth looking at the problem from all angles and removing any sources of moisture before making any changes. Damp problems around the chimney chest can be a sign that the chest is blocked, so it may also be worth bringing in an expert who can look it down for you.
Getting a first, second and third opinion about moisture in your home to really determine what is causing it can also be a sensible thing to do. But if you have confirmed that rising humidity is the cause, how do you solve the problem?
Unfortunately, although the problem is certainly treatable, there is no easy or cheap solution. A new moisture-proof course is usually the answer. Even if it sounds messy, injectable moisture sealants can be applied directly to the walls to prevent them from continuously absorbing moisture. This is a liquid that enters the bricks and other materials before it hardens in the following days and weeks. Once hardened, it should prevent any moisture from entering.
You may also want to check that water is draining away from your property properly. If not, additional drainage can be installed which can help the problem.
Whichever method you choose to fix your rising moisture problems, it may take a while before the walls dry out. It is best to avoid plastering or renovating until the wall is completely dry to the touch, otherwise paint, plaster or wallpaper will just get away from the wall again.
How much does it cost to fix rising moisture?
The cost of getting rid of the problem depends on how bad it is, as well as the type of property you live in – it can be more difficult to get rid of it in older homes than, for example, in a newer one. However, it is not a cheap solution, and you can look at anything from € 600 to € 5000. It is important to understand how much it can cost to fix, which home insurance providers usually does not allow you to claim damage caused by rising moisture.