A guide to waterproofing services

Page 1: How to waterproof your property
Page 2: Damp proofing
Page 3: Roof protection

Hannah Shanks - Editor

Damp proofing

Damp proofing is the term for a series of treatments undertaken to prevent the growth of rising damp in your homes walls.

Rising damp is very common in basements but can also be prevalent in older brickwork. What it literally means is that damp is trapped within your walls, and is seeking a means of escape through evaporation.

This usually happens when moisture penetrates cracks, tubes and other tiny passage ways in your walls. The moisture will move then through the pores of the masonry, seeking a means of evaporation. It will continue to rise until it reaches a height, where unless no evaporation is possible, gravity takes over and pulls it down again. This height is seldom more than 1.2 metres.

There are different ways of dealing with it but one of the stages may involve ripping down your internal plasterwork to treat the affected area behind, so do be aware it can be a messy job.

What causes rising damp?

Rising damp will occur in any structure not properly protected against it. Properties that are not protected are usually old and the protection originally in place has now expired, or the property may not have been protected in the first place.

How can I protect against rising damp?

The most common form of treatment for rising damp is to damp-proof your house or affected areas typically involves the installation of a chemical Damp Proofing Cream (DPC).

This will usually necessitate hiring a professional damp proofing company who will asses your property and then perform the work using specialist injection equipment. They will usually also re-plaster your walls using a salt retardant additive beneath the plasterboard.

The cost of having this done varies greatly depending on the specific details of your property. Factors such as how many rooms are suffering from rising damp, how big the areas are, and whether or not the areas are on the ground floor or higher floors which necessitate bigger equipment, will have bearing on the final price.

If possible, try and ask someone you know who has had a damp-proofing treatment done in their home if they recommend the company they used. If you don't know anyone who has had this treatment then The British Wood Preserving and Damp-proofing Association will be able to supply you with a list of contractors in your area who all belong to the Government endorsed Trust-mark scheme. Some contractors are now using electro osmotic damp proofing, rather than the more tradition chemical DPC method.

What is the electro osmotic damp proofing method?

This type of treatment uses small electrical charges to move the moisture within the wall. The electrical charge repels the rising moisture molecules down the walls and harmlessly back into the ground. As long as this tiny positive charge is maintained, the protected walls remain dry and totally free of damp.

Professionals in this method then run small titanium wires around your house, with certain sections inserted into small holes drilled in your walls. The wires are connected to a computer system which monitors the condition of the wall at regular intervals and can provide the owner with a valuable history of the effectiveness of the damp proof course. The installation of this system is easily achieved and the costs of running it are similar to the cost of running your doorbell!

Gutters

Efficient gutters are mostly ignored but if you have a problem with your guttering it can cause major problems to your home.

When a gutter becomes blocked the rain water builds up and overflows from the gutter, damaging bricks and mortar on your outside walls. It can also seep through the bricks causing damage to your household furnishings and paintwork.

But waterproofing your property is easily done with well maintained gutters.

One of the main problems with guttering is that the channels become clogged with leaves and other debris. At least once a year make sure you clear your gutters from all wet leaves and debris using a trowel or a scraper.

The build up of leaves and rubbish in a gutter can also provide a home for windblown seeds to lay root, meaning that weeds start to grow naturally in your gutter. This also leads to a blockage, which is why it's important to clear the gutters regularly.

Gutters are susceptible to cracks, buckling and leaks as well. You will also need to inspect the various joints and brackets of the guttering regularly to make sure they are not leaking.

If they are, you can tighten the screws which hold the brackets in place or replace the brackets themselves. If you have old, cast-iron gutters you may need to replace the sealant that goes around the joints to ensure that no water escapes and also paint them regularly with a bituminous paint, which will prevent against moisture and corrosive erosion.

If you have PVC gutters which have holes in them you may be able to patch them up with sealant available in good hardware stores. If that fails to stop the problem you may need to replace that section of guttering.

If any of your guttering problems persist, or you would like to get your guttering checked by a professional then ask a friend or neighbour to recommend someone who has previously done similar work for them, or visit the Yellow Pages for a list of roofing and guttering specialists in your area.

 
 


Property pros