penetrating damp

What Is Penetrating Damp?

Water ingress and dampness can cause big problems for properties. Discovering the source of moisture is of utmost importance when dealing with dampness. There are many terms to describe the different types of damp and these exist to help demystify, explain and correctly address the various problems. In this blog post we are going to be discussing one of these terms – Penetrating Damp – What it means, how to spot it, what can be done to treat it, and more!

What Is Penetrating Damp?

Even if you have never had to deal with dampness before the likelihood is that you will still have heard of the term penetrating damp, but what exactly does it mean?

Well, penetrating damp is one of the broader terms used to describe certain types of dampness within buildings, it actually incorporates many issues into one umbrella term. Penetrating damp describes any moisture, normally rain, floods or leaking pipes, that makes its way into the interior of a building by penetrating the external skin (envelope).

Penetrating damp can occur to any level of a property, from the roof to the basement, wherever water is able to breach the property envelope. Wind and gravity are the main forces that drive moisture into the property from its external source. As the external skin of a property is comprised of many facets, there are many issues that can allow unwanted moisture into a building. These issues normally get worse after periods of heavy rain.

Penetrating damp is very common in older buildings that have solid walls as deterioration and lack of damp proofing allows water ingress to get worse over time. Newer properties can also suffer from penetrating damp if they are constructed poorly or suffer from structural damage. It is also increasingly common for buildings with cavity walls to suffer from penetrating damp. This happens when insulation is fitted poorly, and by those with a lack of understanding, within the cavity. This then allows moisture to wick from the outside in or causes condensation to build up due to compromised ventilation in the void.

What Is The Difference Between Penetrating And Rising Damp?

Rain penetrating damp can appear to almost any part of a building, whereas rising damp is only associated with moisture rising from the ground level.

Rising damp is another very common term to describe a type of moisture ingress into a property and is sometimes used indistinguishably with the term penetrating damp. However, they shouldn’t be confused as one and the same. Rising damp, as the term suggests, refers to moisture that is wicking up from the ground. Porous walls and other construction materials that come into contact with a wet ground (with a constant source of water) will begin to wick moisture into the property envelope, this happens through capillary action.

The symptoms of penetrating damp may seem similar to that of rising damp but tend to occur more locally, where there is damage to the external skin of the property. Penetrating damp can happen laterally to a building but will not rise up from the ground like rising damp (see diagram).

rising damp

What Causes Penetrating Damp?

Rain penetration is the most common reason or penetrating damp and in the UK this mostly occurs on the top of south-west facing walls as they are more likely to be exposed to driving wind and rain.

The following issues are likely to create areas that are prone to penetrating damp:

  • Defective Roofing
  • Ineffective Rainwater Goods
  • Faulty Pointing
  • Damaged Masonry (due to weather, frost, age and physical damage)
  • Porous Walls
  • Damaged Mortar Joints
  • High Ground Levels
  • Poorly Fitted Cavity Wall Insulation
  • Leaky Pipes

How To Spot Penetrating Damp?

Many factors need to be taken into consideration when conducting a professional damp survey to get a complete picture of the property. Here at Insitu SCP we have been undertaking damp and timber surveys for over 35 years. Our surveyors are experienced and fully qualified professionals who pride themselves on accurate diagnosis and excellent customer service. If you believe your property is suffering from damp issues please get in touch with our friendly team today.

Common Places To Check

  • The Roof
  • Window Frames
  • Door Frames
  • External Walls
  • Rainwater Goods
  • External Walls

Symptoms Of Penetrating Damp

  • Localised Dampness (Damp patches on walls or ceilings)
  • Damaged Plaster
  • Black Mould Growth
  • Musty Damp Smell
  • Damaged Timber
  • Leaky Roof
  • Dry/Wet Rot In Timbers
  • Drips and Puddles
  • Frost Damage to Masonry
  • Poor Heat Efficiency

How Can I Fix Penetrating Damp?

Regularly checking your property for any signs of dampness is the best way to stop the damaging effects of penetrating damp before it is too late. The first step to fixing any penetrating damp issues is to accurately locate and effectively stop the source of moisture. As there are many ways in which water can penetrate a property this varies dramatically between each case of penetrating damp. The best way to be completely sure that you have eliminated the source of water is to first have a full damp and timber survey undertaken by qualified experts. This will ensure that no source of moisture is missed and that any sources are correctly diagnosed.

Once the source is stopped, then the affected area needs to be allowed to dry out prior to any remedial, decorating or cosmetic work being completed to make the local area, that has suffered from the dampness, good again. There are a number of specialist products that can be applied to an area that has a history of dampness to ensure that the problem never reoccurs. We take pride in using the best products available and luckily for us they are produced locally by a company called Safeguard Europe.

How Can We Help With Penetrating Damp?

Insitu SCP are one of the most established names in building preservation in the South East of England, with over 40 years’ experience in the industry. We have a team of qualified and friendly damp and timber surveyors who have years of experience in the industry. We can conduct a thorough survey on your property, to spot for any signs of damp or timber issues. We will then produce a thorough written report highlighting any issues that we have spotted. We can also undertake any remedial work to solve the issues, as we have a brilliant construction team on hand. Once any work is complete, we cover it with our 10-year guarantee so that you can rest assured that your property is safe from the dangers of penetrating damp for the future.

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