How to know if you have damp and timber issues occurring in your property?

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If you’re buying or selling a house the last thing you want to read in a surveyors report is that there are damp and timber problems. Having timber and damp issues can be a real problem if not spotted and acted upon early. So to help you through the world of damp and timber issues we have compiled a helpful guide to help you identify the issues quickly.

How to Spot Damp Related Issues?


There are three types of damp that can prove to be problematic for a property - these are rising damp, penetrating damp and condensation. Condensation is by far the most common of all the damp issues found in properties. The most likely cause of this form of damp is as a result of poor ventilation in the property.

One of the main signs to look out for that condensation is affecting a property is black spot mould. The wallpaper will also start to peel off the walls and there will be water droplets left on windowsills. There is also a distinctive tell-tale damp musty smell that can occur from condensation. 

Rising Damp

Rising damp is a form of damp that is usually most common in older housing. The reason for this is that the building has may have no damp protection (a damp proof course) in place or that it has become damaged over time.

Having a damp mark on interior walls that is approx 1 meter in height is one of the main signs that you might have a problem with rising damp at your property. Another more obvious sign of rising damp is that the wall will actually feel damp when touched. Just like condensation, mould can also start to appear on the interior walls of the building.

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp occurs mainly as a result of poor maintenance of the property. Examples are damaged rainwater goods or blocked gutters. Penetrating damp can occur with all types of buildings meaning that any property could be affected by this type of damp issue.

The typical symptoms that you might find associated with penetrating damp are damage to the interior walls of the building such as damaged plaster. If the dampness has affected timber, such as skirting boards, then it may appear ‘warped’ or damaged which can lead to further issues such as dry rot fungus.

How to Spot Timber Related Issues?

Dry rot and Wet Rot

Dry rot and wet rot are the most serious issues of all the property care problems and can cause severe damage to the structural integrity of the building if left unchecked. Dampness is the main cause for both forms of wood rot so stopping the source of the moisture is the key to treating either of these issues.

Dry rot and wet rot are often misdiagnosed with each other but there are distinct differences between them both. With wet rot, the timber will show signs of a black fungus while dry rot, when exposed to light, will have a yellow tinge to it. Wet rot tends to be confined in one area while dry rot can spread to other parts of the property.  For wet rot to occur there needs to be high moisture content of over 50 % while dry rot is much lower of only 20%. For correct diagnosis of rot it is recommended that a professional is used.


Woodworm is a wood boring insect that can be hard to spot during the beginning of their lifecycle. Usually, the woodworm can only be spotted at the end of the lifecycle as they exit the timber. This is when the damage to timber has already occurred.

However, one of the signs that you have a live woodworm infestation in the timber is that of ‘frass’ being left by the woodworm. ‘Frass’ is another term for woodworm waste and appears as a fine powdery dust. It can also be useful in identifying the type of wood boring insect as ‘frass’ differs between different species. The most obvious sign of woodworm is that you may actually see them either dead or alive.  If you see a live beetle it will most likely be almost at the end of the lifecycle.

What to do if I have Timber and Damp issues?

If you are experiencing any of the issues highlighted in this article and have spotted any of the signs damp, dry rot or woodworm, then it is always best to get in contact with a specialist damp and timber company.

By having a specialist carry out a survey at the property you can ensure the property care issue is correctly identified and they can recommend the correct solution to the problem. If you need any further advice or would like to book a reliable timber and damp company then Timberwise can help.

Shire Surveyors can also help with carrying out a survey of your property. 

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