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The problem of dampness can be a major one for homeowners and is one that many of us will experience at some point. Here we have compiled the most common types of damp problems that are experienced by homes and businesses alike. We will cover how damp occurs and what you should do if you spot these problems in your property.
Rising dampness, or rising damp, is the term used to describe the condition where water and moisture are rising from the ground into a building through something called ‘capillary action’. This means the water soaks into the pores of the masonry because masonry contains many fine pores, known as capillaries. They are a little like a tube with a fine bore stretching through the masonry.
Capillaries are ‘wettable’ meaning that a lifting force is produced by water that is attempting to spread over the whole surface. This causes the moisture to rise throughout the masonry.
Imagine that masonry is like a piece of blotting paper – it soaks up the water from the ground. How far the rising damp can go depends on a number of factors but generally, it reaches a level of around one metre from the ground. Often, ground water contains mineral salts such as nitrates and chlorides that are brought into the masonry. When the water evaporates, the salts remain and can cause damage to decorations and plaster. This is why when Tapco HomeDry deal with a rising damp problem, we replace plaster with a special product that is salt retardant as well as installing a new damp proof course.
In other situations, the bricks are hard and impervious but the mortar joints holding them together can allow the moisture to track through the wall. Mortar beds are an important part of the chemical treatment for rising damp and another step that we can take to solve your problem.
Solution – chemical damp proof course
Tapco HomeDry offers a chemical damp proof course that can treat rising damp and prevent the capillary action from happening in the first place.
When using a chemical damp proofing system, material lines the walls of the pores or capillaries with silicone, a little like a polish. This makes the internal area non-wettable so that water cannot spread into the pores. Instead, it forms globules that simply slip down through the masonry, back to the source because the pores are too slippery for the water to adhere.
We also use a silane damp proofing cream that blends silanes and siloxanes to act as a pore liner. You can see more about these processes on our damp proofing pages.
Other forms of dampness
During rainfall, water soaks into brick or stones walls but doesn’t reach the inner areas due to natural evaporation processes. However, if there is a larger than normal amount of water accumulating on a building and there are certain defects present, then the evaporation rate won’t be enough to clear the water. This will allow the water to penetrate the inner areas of the building and is known as penetrating damp. Issues that can lead to this include:
Downpipes not working properly
Defects in pointing
Inadequate drip grooves
Defects around doors and window joints
We have different solutions that we can use depending on the nature of the problem that has led to penetrating damp. The process starts with dealing with the defect, for example fixing the leak in the guttering. We can then deal with the effects of the damp – see our penetrating damp page for more information on this profess.
Lateral penetrating damp is where water moves sideways through a wall due to the internal or external floor level being higher than the adjoining space. In this situation, moisture penetrates laterally from the higher level to the lower one. Often in this situation, we will look at lowering ground level externals and provide a waterproof barrier internally or sometimes waterproof the wall on the lower side.
Condensation is the situation where moisture form on the surface of walls and other materials in a space. Condensation refers to the moment when warm moist air comes into contact with a cold surface such as a window or a wall and turns back into water.
Condensation happens because warm air can contain more moisture than cold air. But when the warm air is cooled by contact with a cold surface, some of the moisture is then released. Signs of it can include steamed up windows or water running down walls. This can cause several problems including rotting window frames, peeling wallpaper and black spots. These black spots are where mould is growing and causes very unsightly damage to walls. It can also spread to curtains and furniture that are close to these walls.
Condensation happens in buildings that have poor heating or inadequate ventilation. Many modern houses have efficient draught proof systems to stop heat loss but this can lead to condensation.
Tapco HomeDry has condensation control experts to help deal with this kind of issues as well as the mould caused by condensation. These include adding a ventilation unit that can be placed in a loft or central hallway to circulate air around the house. This reduces humidity and therefore the chance of mould growing. We can also look to install filterless extractor fans or heat recovery fans to evacuate the moisture-heavy air outside to disperse.
Treating damp in buildings
Should you spot any problems that may relate to damp, it is important that you take steps to deal with the issue by calling out an expert. We can help you regain control of the moisture levels in your property and use systems such as damp proofing and condensation control to remove the problem.
Before we take any action, we will carry out a survey to look for the problems causing the damp. This allows us to provide you with an explanation of what we suggest doing and why. We have extensive experience in the damp proofing area so we have a number of solutions to offer. All of our treatments are cost effective, with minimalised risks and on-time installations as well as offering future-proof solutions.
Tapco HomeDry based in Surrey, is one of London and the Home Counties most established and reputable damp-proofing, wood-rot and property preservation companies. We are long term members of the Property Care Association (PCA), Trust Mark (Government Endorsed Standards), the Guarantee Protection Insurance (GPI), and an accredited Which? Trusted trader, providing thorough, professional surveys for both commercial and domestic properties. For pre-purchase surveys we are the all-inclusive property preservation experts, providing solutions for damp, from the roof to the drains.