Rising Damp: Capillary Rise Dynamics in Walls


Rising damp is the common term for the slow upward movement of moisture in the lower parts of walls and other ground-supported structures. It is an
important cause of wetness in buildings. It is a cause of decay and deterioration in standing stones, monuments and at archaeological sites. Much has been written about rising damp, some informed and some less so. Experienced practitioners in building conservation have described its features—see, for
example, the book by Massari & Massari (1993) and the technical pamphlet
from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (Thomas et al. 1992).
Almost all of these accounts are descriptive and qualitative. There is no harm
in that: rising damp is a complicated process. What we wish to do in this short
paper is to offer a physical analysis of rising damp from which we develop a
quantitative model to complement the descriptive accounts. This provides a
clear identification of the principal factors which control rising damp, expressed
in some simple formulae. These formulae can be evaluated numerically for
many cases to provide practical guidance on such matters as the height of rise,
the time-scale for drying and so on. We emphasize that these formulae do not
represent the phenomenon exactly, although they are the exact results of the
simplified model. We show that their predictions are consistent with practical
observations. Some features of this analysis are to be found in the paper of Vos
(1971) who described the suction of groundwater by walls from the standpoint
of a soil physicist.


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Rising Damp: Capillary Rise Dynamics in Walls

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Additional information

  • http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/463/2084/1871 Orginating URL
  • 8 August 2007 Year of publication
  • Document accessibility
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  • 1.0.0 Version
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  • 30 January 2015 Creation Date
  • 25 September 2019 Last Updated