Penetrating Damp FAQ

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Penetrating Damp FAQ

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Q: How to identify penetrating damp, what are the symptoms?

A: Penetrating damp, otherwise known as lateral damp, is the development of moisture through the walls and roof or below ground area of a building. Like most cases of damp, if left untreated it can cause a number of problems for the structure and significant damage to the fabric of your home.
If a penetrating damp problem is left untreated it can cause deterioration to timbers, ceilings, and walls of any property and can even cause rot. Unlike rising damp penetrating damp, can happen at any level. Penetrating damp can affect any age of property. Older properties which have had a lack of maintenance are more at risk of penetrating damp problems causing deterioration to the building fabric. This is not to say that modern buildings do not suffer from penetrating damp. In some cases, due to defective workmanship or design, modern buildings can also suffer from penetrating damp.

The damp can form in isolated patches or can affect full wall areas. The damp can get worse after heavy periods of rain. Living in the UK, your home is at risk of rainwater penetration, however penetrating damp most often affects areas that are exposed to severe weather conditions or there is a defect in the property like missing roof tiles or defective gutters and downpipes.
rain pipe problem that causes penetrating damp
The first sign of penetrating damp that you may see could be a watermark that appears on your decoration. With penetrating damp, damp patches will grow as the water continues to enter. Mould could begin to grow on the damp wall as condensation could occur on the existing cold damp surfaces.

 Another sign of damp is that there may be water droplets or free flowing water on the inside surfaces of your property. This will vary depending on the severity of the problem.

Q: What are the common penetrating damp causes? What is water ingress and how to treat it?

A: There are many ways that we can help prevent damp and treat water ingress. If you have a property that has excess levels of moisture, it can lead to property problems such deteriorating fabric, dry rot, wet rot or severe structural damage. The first step is to diagnose what is causing the damp problem.

Penetrating damp usually occurs if you own a property that has building defects e.g. Defective roof coverings, a leaking rainwater pipe or faulty joints between the windows and walls. Some of the most common cases of penetrating damp come from defective brickwork, render and pointing. Brickwork and render can deteriorate due to becoming porous with age, frosted or physical damage. This is one of the main reasons why older buildings are affected by penetrated damp as their building materials may be deteriorating over time or have been affected by storm damage and are not able to do the job they were designed to do.

If the structure of a building is failing, then your property may be allowing moisture to soak completely through the wall. This is a sign that your waterproofing system is failing.
You can also find penetrating damp where the external ground levels are higher than the internal floors or damp proof membranes to concrete ground floors or solums below your ground floor are defective. You may also find damp in the basement or cellars of your home. If your basement is not waterproofed, our basement waterproofing team can help you!  

Water can cause huge problems to your property, without you even realising it. Firstly, building materials can biodegrade if they are affected by extreme levels of moisture. This is why it is so important that you invest in specialist property care that will help you preserve the structure of your building.
waterproofed stone wall with a membrane
Self-treatment may not be successful as it is easy to misdiagnose the form of damp affecting your property which will not solve your problem and continue to affect your property investment. Our property care expert will be able to diagnose and treat the problem by using our many different repair systems to suit your property.

Our specialists will be able to identify defects that can lead to water ingress. We will be able to identify areas within your property that require remedial repair. Each of our customers receives a detailed inspection and report once the survey is complete.

Q: How to dry penetrating damp?

A: At Richardson and Starling, we have a team of experts that can help you eradicate the damp problem in your property. When our experts visit your property, firstly they will carry out a thorough survey of the building.

We know the importance of correct diagnosis when it comes to damp treatment, therefore there is no point in starting any treatment for penetrating damp until it is confirmed by one of our professionals on site.

Our team are known for their efficient and quality service. We will use the most cost effective and beneficial method to treat the penetrating damp problem affecting your property.
We use traditional building techniques to repair the damage to your property and also use new products and repair systems which will keep your property dry. We can apply a physical membrane or chemical water repellent to stop the problem from returning if this is appropriate.

Over our eight decades delivering property care we have faced many challenges. We have had previous cases of properties that have shown alarming symptoms. We always start with a survey to accurately diagnose the problem. This gives us the opportunity to be both honest and transparent when informing our customers about the cause and severity of the problem.
cut model showing how to stop penetrating damp
In some severe penetrating damp problems where the stonework and mortar had become so porous that the damp had soaked through all the external walls into the living space of the property we have used a specialist cavity membrane fitted to the outside of the external walls with a traditional render applied. This membrane system waterproofs the outside of the property and also lets the original stone breath.

Q: Can cavity wall insulation cause dampness?

A: Cavity wall insulation is extremely popular nowadays as it improves the heat retention of the home, it also blocks cold air from entering.

In the UK, most houses built after 1930 had two walls in their external wall. There was an inner wall built to surround the inside of the building and an outer wall that was covered with render, paint or pebbledash. A gap or cavity was left between the two walls to protect the inside walls from penetrating damp.

In recent years, dampness has been triggered in homes that have had cavity wall insulation installed. When penetrating damp has got through the outside wall the damp has then been transmitted through the cavity wall insulation and affected the internal wall of the property. Cavity wall insulation has failed many homeowners and if this is a problem then the insulation requires to be removed.

Q: Can penetrating damp cause health issues?

A: In most cases, if treated quickly enough, you shouldn’t be too concerned about the effects of damp. The recognisable smell and look of damp may be unpleasant, however, the health risks are minimal if dealt with quickly. It is not good for people to live in damp conditions for an extended time and the problem needs to be resolved.

If you are living or working in a property that has extreme damp issues, this may lead to an outbreak of black mould as condensation could form on the damp wall areas within your property.

If you are concerned about the growth of black mould or damp within your property contact us today for more information. If you want to find out more about the health risks attached, visit the Property Care Association website.

Q: Does penetrating damp cause mould? What is damp mould?

A: Penetrating damp usually occurs on external walls. As mentioned, penetrating damp mainly appears because of a fault outside the home and could be more noticeable after a period of rainfall. If you are looking to identify a patch of penetrated damp, the affected area could look and feel damp to the touch or you could see running water.
Mould growth occurs on condensation and as the penetrating damp walls become cold then condensation could form on this surface and this could cause mould growth.

If your home is poorly damp proofed, mould could grow on the following cold surfaces:
  • Penetrating damp through walls or roofs creating damp cold spots
  • Rising damp cold spots to walls
  • Damp basements or walls below ground level
  • A lack of drying and cleaning after major water leaks/flooding
  • Poor heating and ventilation in the affected area
green damp mould on the wall

Q: Would you recommend any DIY penetrating damp solutions?

A: At Richardson and Starling, we have over 80 years’ experience working in property care, therefore we know the importance of accurate diagnosis. The mistake that many homeowners make is self-diagnosing and self-treating the area of damp on their property. If treatment is done on a wrong diagnosis of the damp problem this will not only cost more money and time but the damage could get worse.

At Richardson and Starling, we have surveyors that can come to your property to carry out a professional assessment of the damp conditions affecting your property. After the survey, our surveyor will advise you on how to proceed to effectively treat the damp within your home.

About Richardson and Starling

We cover not only Glasgow as we have teams in areas across Scotland and North England. Our local Surveyors and teams understand the specific requirements of their area.
Richardson & Starling branch locations on the map
Richardson and Starling are leading property repair specialists and there isn’t a property care problem that we cannot treat. Call a member of our team today and they will be able to direct you to the appropriate surveyor for you.

Expert Advice & Repairs Across Scotland and the North of England
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