Penetrating Damp Signs

One of the most common types of damp which property owners can experience is penetrating damp. If you are concerned that your property has a dampness problem, this page will provide you with the penetrating damp signs that you might notice. This page will assist in improving your knowledge regarding what penetrating damp is and what the most suitable penetrating damp treatments are. Properties having external defects can give rainwater a route to gain access to your property’s Internal fabric. Penetrating damp can have a substantial impact on how your property looks inside. Visible damp patches and a musty smell can make your property appear uninviting, which would inevitably be a bad experience for any homeowner.

How to Identify Penetrating Damp? What Are the Signs?

A watermark which appears on the ceiling or walls next to external walls, windows or roof tends to indicate a penetrating damp problem and may give high moisture readings when checked by a damp meter. These damp patches will develop if the water continues to gain entry to your property and will become even more visible during periods of prolonged rainfall. This type of damp may result in mould growing as condensation may form on these damp cold areas. This will be purely dependent on the conditions within your property. There may be water droplets visible on the surface if the damp issue is particularly severe. Unlike rising damp, no hygroscopic salts coming from the ground will be visible with this type of damp.

Below are key signs of penetrating damp and what you need to look out for:

Localised Dampness
You may find localised patches of damp throughout your property on or adjacent to the external walls if you are suffering from penetrating damp. These are often in random locations and will not dry out regardless of what techniques you use.

Internal Decoration Being Damaged
Internal surface of external walls and decorations becoming discoloured or damp may be a strong indication of penetrating damp.

Damaged Plaster
Penetrating damp will cause plaster to blister and show signs of wear and tear. This is as a result of the excess moisture affecting the quality of the plaster.

Rotting Skirting Boards Or Floor Timbers
Floors adjacent to external walls showing signs of dry or wet rot decay may be the result of high moisture due to penetrating damp.

Mould Growth
If there is mould growth which is visible alongside a musty damp smell this may indicate penetrating damp and a condensation issue within the property.

External Penetrating Damp Symptoms

It is important for property owners to note that penetrating damp symptoms can be prevalent and affect both the internal and external fabric of your property.

Damaged Brickwork
Damaged brickwork on external walls is one of the most common symptoms of penetrating damp. This tends to be caused by frost damage over time. As moisture freezes it expands. If this moisture has penetrated the brickwork it will expand in freezing conditions which can easily result in cracks within the structure of the wall.

Moss On Brickwork
Walls which are damp provide the perfect platform for algae and moss to grow. Damp being able to penetrate masonry provides an ideal location for moss to develop, which can result in an unsightly appearance. The excessive damp to the wall may be due to defective rainwater gutters or downpipes which allow water to run down the wall.

What Areas Can Get Affected by Penetrating Damp?

Buildings which have been built with solid walls are considerably more likely to suffer from damp as a result of penetration of moisture than properties built with cavity walls. Cavity wall construction includes an air gap between the external and internal walls. This ensures that moisture is not given easy access to the internal walls.

It is important to note that cavity walls are not entirely exempt from penetrating damp. Cavities within walls can commonly become blocked, which provides water with a bridge to travel over. This allows the moisture access to the internal wall, despite the air gap being designed to prevent this from happening. Numerous cavity walls have had insulation fitted years after the property was built which fills the gap between the walls. If the outer wall of the cavity allows rainwater to penetrate then this could soak the insulation in the cavity. The wet insulation then transfers the moisture to the inner wall resulting in damp affecting the wall inside the property.

What Causes Penetrating Damp?

Accurately locating the source of a penetrating damp issue is essential with regards to resolving the overall penetrating damp problem. Penetrating damp can be caused by various property issues.

The most common causes have been listed below alongside potential solutions.

  • Porous Bricks – Bricks will gradually become damaged or porous as time goes by. If they have become porous and water is now able to penetrate them, they will need to be repaired. Alternatively, a waterproof solution which protects the bricks can be utilised which will repel the water.
  • Cracked or Damaged Render – Water will be able to penetrate through if render has been damaged. Where possible, small cracks should be repaired using sealant or new render.
  • Damaged or blocked guttering and downpipes – This is arguably the most common penetrating damp cause. With overflowing gutters allowing excess water to run down the building fabric.
  • Damaged Windows – Defective window pointing can allow damp through. Also blocked drip strip on the window cills due to a significant build-up of moss and dirt is relatively common. If you identify that your windows drip strips are blocked ensure that these are then cleaned to stop rainwater running of the window and down the wall. If windows appear visibly damaged then it is likely that you will need to repair or replace them.
  • Damaged Roof – Defective roof coverings can cause water to penetrate your property. If you possess the relevant experience then you should replace all cracked and missing tiles or slates on your roof. Loose flashing will also need to be repaired or replaced. Most people would use a professional roofer to do this work.

Penetrating damp tends to occur if you live in a property which has building defects. Some of the most common cases of penetrating damp arise as a result of defective masonry, pointing and render. As previously mentioned, brickwork, render and pointing can deteriorate over time due to physical damage or frost. This may be closely related to the reason why it is most commonly older properties which suffer from penetrating damp. The building fabric of older properties may deteriorate over time and become defective as a result of storm damage. This may prevent these materials from performing as they were initially intended and stop penetrating damp.

If a buildings external fabric is failing to be as effective as it should be, this may mean that your property is allowing moisture to penetrate through its walls. This is a clear indication that any waterproofing or water repellent system which is currently in place is not performing its role.

What to Do Next?

Still have concerns that your property is suffering from penetrating damp? It is crucial that you contact a specialist to have a damp survey undertaken at your property. Richardson & Starling are members of the Property Care Association. Our highly skilled and qualified specialists are trained to provide solutions for a wide range of damp issues which properties can be affected by. Upon completing the damp survey, our surveyor will provide you with a clear report which details the problems which have been identified throughout the survey. This will clearly communicate the source of the problem and the necessary treatments which must be implemented in order to ensure the issue is resolved.Not sure what is causing damp in your home? Contact your local branch for advice or a property survey to regain your peace of mind.