In simple terms damp problems are caused by poorly installed waterproofing or damp proofing in the required areas or a lack thereof, which allows water to rise from ground or penetration from rain water which can be seen on walls above foundation levels, floors, walls just below ceilings and ceiling surfaces.
Determining the cause of damp is often a difficult task as the damage seen on the surface is not necessarily the cause of the problem in most cases.
According to the National Building Regulations all floors, walls, openings and roofs, depending on material and application should be protected by a damp proofing membrane, however this critical component is often left out due to cost, or simply ignored due to lack of knowledge with builders. Failure also occurs with poorly installed products or deterioration of membrane.
It is therefore critical when building, renovating or buying a home off plan that this component is installed. If not, in the case of rising damp one can only treat the symptoms without solving the cause in most cases. In the case of roof or horizontal penetration depending on the application this can be resolved. In more severe cases the problem must be resolved to prevent structural damage to the home building.
There are four main areas of damp within a home building.
Rising damp: This is the condition caused by moisture moving up from the ground level through openings in the building structure and materials.
Penetrating water: This is when water penetrates through openings in the roof or walls which are caused by poor construction, failure of product or movement in the structure.
Condensation: This is caused by the difference in temperature from outside to inside of home which results in moisture forming on internal surfaces.
Damp caused by water leakage: This is caused by a geyser leaking or burst water pipes in a wall or floor.
Damp in the home is usually treated for cosmetic reasons, however if severe and untreated can lead to structural and health problems.
There are various DIY products on the market to treat the symptoms of damp yourself. It is however always recommended that you consult a waterproofing or damp proofing specialist prior to taking any action.
Products can be categorised in two areas:
Damp proofing products: these will prevent the various forms of damp and products include damp proofing and waterproofing membranes and paints, silicones and sealants for use in building construction.
Symptom treating products: these are used to treat the cosmetic damage caused by damp.
Compiled by Gary Macnamara for Builders' Space. Source: Dampproofing and Waterproofing Association of South Africa.
For more information visit the Dampproofing & Waterproofing Association of SA.