Preventing and Managing Penetrating Damp: Tips for Building Owners

5 Sep 2023
As a property owner in the UK, chances are that you are well-acquainted with the country’s damp weather. Despite our classic love for a good moan about the rain, it’s essential to tackle its less loved by-product: penetrating damp. This unwanted intruder can not only ruin the aesthetic of your home but can also pose structural risks. Let’s explore how you can prevent and manage this pesky problem.

Understanding Penetrating Damp

The UK is no stranger to drizzle and sporadic downpours. And while the rain adds to the characteristic charm of our weather, for building owners, it can introduce a formidable foe. To effectively combat penetrating damp, we first need to understand its nature, causes, and tell-tale signs.

What Exactly is Penetrating Damp?

At its core, penetrating damp is unwanted moisture infiltrating a building from the outside in. Unlike its cousin, rising damp, which begins its ascent from the ground, penetrating damp often takes a horizontal path. This is mainly due to external issues or defects that allow water ingress.

Common Causes of Penetrating Damp

  • Defective brickwork or masonry: Over time, bricks and masonry can deteriorate due to age, pollution, or physical damage. When this happens, it’s easier for rainwater to penetrate the structure.
  • Compromised roofing: Missing tiles or poor-quality roofing materials can provide rainwater with a direct route into a building. Faulty gutters and downpipes: A clogged or damaged gutter system can cause water to overflow and seep into the walls.
  • Poorly sealed windows and doors: If not properly installed or maintained, windows and doors can act as entry points for rainwater, especially during windy rain showers.
  • Ineffective external rendering: External walls exposed to the elements without a proper protective barrier are vulnerable. Over time, if the rendering cracks or peels away, it can expose the underlying structure to moisture.

Identifying Penetrating Damp

Spotting penetrating damp early can save both time and money. Here’s what to look out for:
  • Wet patches: These can appear on walls, ceilings, or floors after periods of rain. Unlike a one-off water leak that eventually dries out, these patches may persist or reappear consistently after rainfall.
  • A musty smell: Often, a persistent damp odour can indicate that moisture is trapped within a room or a particular area.
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper: As moisture infiltrates the walls, it can cause paint or wallpaper to bubble, crack, or peel away. Mould growth: Persistent damp conditions can lead to black mould growth, a clear indication that there’s unwanted moisture in the vicinity.

Effects on the Building Structure

If not addressed, penetrating damp can compromise the integrity of a building. Bricks and mortar can erode or weaken, wood can rot, and in the worst cases, the structural safety of the property can be at risk. Plus, damp walls have reduced insulation properties, leading to higher heating costs during colder months.

The Health Implications of Penetrating Damp

While we’ve discussed the structural concerns associated with penetrating damp, it is also crucial to shed light on its potential health ramifications for those living or working within the affected building.
  • Respiratory issues: Persistent moisture can lead to mould growth. When mould spores are inhaled, they can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma, cause allergic reactions, and even lead to respiratory infections in more vulnerable individuals.
  • Allergies: Apart from respiratory allergies, mould and damp can also cause skin allergies. Symptoms can range from itchy rashes to severe allergic reactions.
  • Aggravated health conditions: For those already suffering from chronic respiratory conditions or immune-compromised states, penetrating damp can exacerbate their symptoms making their day-to-day living uncomfortable.
  • Mental health concerns: Living in damp conditions can have a negative impact on your mental wellbeing. It’s not just the persistent musty odour; the environment can make spaces feel cold, unwelcoming, and even depressing.
  • Deteriorating indoor air quality: With damp comes the growth of mould, mildew, and bacteria, which negatively affects indoor air quality, potentially leading to various health issues.

Key Prevention Measures

The good news is that there are several things you can do to prevent moisture from penetrating damp in your property. These include:

Regular Inspections

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to prevent penetrating damp is by conducting regular inspections of your building. Keep an eye out for:
  • Cracked or damaged bricks
  • Faulty guttering or downpipes
  • Loose roof tiles or slates
By addressing these issues promptly, you can halt the onset of damp before it becomes a major concern.

Improve External Rendering

If the external walls of your property are not correctly rendered or the rendering is worn out, it’s a direct invitation for damp. Re-rendering or patching up damaged areas can act as a protective barrier against rainwater.

Window and Door Seals

Ensure all windows and doors are sealed correctly. Over time, these seals can deteriorate, allowing moisture to seep in. Replace any old or damaged seals to keep the water at bay.

Effective Management Techniques

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, penetrating damp can make its way in. Here’s how you can manage and mitigate its effects.

Determine the Source

Before any repair work begins, it’s essential to identify the root cause. Is it a leaking roof, a damaged wall, or perhaps a faulty window? Pinpointing the source will guide your next steps.

Internal Solutions

Damp can lead to mould growth, which isn’t just unsightly but can also be a health hazard. Use a good-quality fungicidal wash to clean any affected areas. Then, consider applying a damp-proof paint or plaster to prevent recurrence.

Ventilation is Key

Ensure your property has adequate ventilation. This doesn’t just mean opening a window now and then. Consider installing vents or extractor fans, particularly in areas prone to damp like kitchens and bathrooms. Proper ventilation aids in drying out any accumulated moisture, keeping damp at bay.

When to Seek Professional Help

There’s no shame in getting help for dealing with penetrating damp! If you’ve tried the above suggestions and are still facing damp issues, or if the problem seems too large to handle, get in touch with the friendly team at London Damp Specialists today.

Share this post

30 Year Warranty

Our damp proofing guarantees are crystal clear. The areas we treat will be covered against damp for 30 years.
*we will beat any reputable quote