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I have an old house (about 150 years old) which has an issue with rising damp. Plastic sheets were placed under the floors, so they aren't affected, but the walls (up to a max of 4 foot) are damp because ultimately they sit on the earth, I suppose, and must soak up the water. I've treated some of the symptoms with anti-damp paint, but I have no idea how to deal with the cause.

Around the exterior of the property is concrete. On one side it is higher than the others (making one side of the property semi-basement). However, there is no obvious means for water to actually enter the property. It is possible that water seeps down from the garden. I also do not know if the drains/sewers have any cracks etc.

Does anyone know how any approaches for dealing with this problem, or at least mitigating its effects?

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Concrete will absorb water much like a sponge. Assuming there is drainage at all, it's likely porous clay-pipe (that's why they call PVC drain pipes "drain-tile".) This was often installed right up against the building.

Over time, when the ground shifts or roots get into the pipe, it breaks and clogs and no longer drains away. What's left of it now draws water in towards the house and up against your concrete. If you have gutters and downspouts that go into the ground, they connect into this system and basically seep into the ground around your house. If you ever dig holes and find pieces of clay pipe, that's your drainage system.

There's really no fixing old clay drainage tile once it's shot. You should get a contractor to give you estimates on drainage. In my area, these companies also do landscaping. Expect the cost to be in the thousands.

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