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What is damp proofing?

What is damp proofing?

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Damp proofing is an important process that homeowners must be aware of. Without it, you run the risk of allowing structural damage to occur within your home, and may suffer from recurring mould and mildew issues. If you’re not sure what damp proofing involves; here’s what you need to know.

What is damp?

Damp is a very common issue in UK households, and most people will live somewhere that struggles with it at some point or another. If left untreated, though, damp can be incredibly damaging. It can cause health issues and can be detrimental to the structural integrity of your home.

There are a few types of damp, but the most common are:

Rising damp

Rising damp affects the walls of buildings. It occurs when moisture travels up through the walls in a process known as capillary action. Essentially, the walls suck the moisture from the ground like straws. The water, and salts within it, then travel up through the wall. It will cause plaster and paint to flake and deteriorate, and often lead to visible stains and tide marks on the wall. Internally, timber and mortar may rot and crumble.

Penetrating damp

Sometimes called lateral damp, penetrating damp is the development of moisture through the walls, roof and below the ground level of a building. Unlike rising damp, it can happen anywhere and can cause deterioration of walls, floors, ceilings and timbers. It can form in isolated patches, or in large full wall areas.

What causes damp?

Damp can be caused by a number of things, which is why damp proofing and damp proof courses are so important. In a home, one of the most common causes of damp is condensation. However, when we are talking about rising damp and penetrating damp, these are caused by unwanted moisture transmission from the outside of the building, be it through capillary action or just soaking through the materials.

Can you damp proof a property?

If damp is so common–can you actually stop it? The answer is yes. By utilising a damp proof course and other damp proofing techniques, a home can be adequately protected from both rising damp and penetrative damp. The damp proofing must be done carefully and correctly, though, else it may fail.

How does damp proofing work?

The most useful and most common form of wide scale damp proofing is a damp proofing course. This is a damp proof membrane of sorts that is installed in a home in an effort to provide damp proofing. It works to prevent rising damp problems and effectively damp proof a home or building.

The two types of damp proof course

There are two types of damp proof courses, both of which suit different properties and situations. Both damp proof courses work in different ways, providing damp proofing while still suiting those who need it.

The two types of damp proof course are:

  • Chemical damp proof course (chemical dpc)
  • Electro osmotic damp proof course

Chemical damp proofing (a chemical dpc)

According to DryCore this process involves the carpets and skirting boards being removed from the wall (for internal walls). Then, a chemical damp proofing agent is prepared. The professionals will drill holes in the wall, insert the product and then the hole will be sealed. In external walls, this can involve having to dig gardens or paths out of the way in order for the damp proof course to be injected low enough.

The chemical injected into the walls then acts as a damp proofing membrane. The damp proof membrane stops any rising damp from occurring within the walls.

Electro osmotic damp proofing course

An electro osmotic damp proof course is a little bit more complicated. It works by using titanium and copper wiring to provide a small electric current. This current runs through the walls and works to reverse capillary action. It does not form a damp proofing membrane, but it can be an integral damp proofing system.

How long does damp proofing last?

If you’re looking to get damp proofing done to your home, the biggest questions you’ll have are likely: how much does a damp proof course cost? And how long will the damp proofing last?

For chemical damp proofing, the lifespan is estimated at around 20 years if installed correctly. The physical damp proof course is a great option, providing value for money and a trusted damp proofing process.

The electro osmotic damp proofing methods are estimated to last about 10 years. These damp proofing methods are also a great option, but are slightly less durable than their counterparts.

What else can you do to tackle damp?

Damp proof courses aren’t the only thing that you can do to prevent damp, water damage and prevent moisture from damaging your home. In fact, for many people, damp proofing won’t include a damp proof course, as many homes already have one! These days, damp proof membranes are built into the walls upon construction. Lucky us!

Within the home there are also methods you can take to combat damp, such as:

  • ensuring that your property has good air flow and circulation
  • keeping the heating on a low heat
  • wiping condensation when it forms
  • investing in a dehumidifier
  • not drying wet clothes out on a clothes rack or on radiators
  • using extractor fans wherever possible

Can you do a damp course on your own?

In theory, a chemical damp proofing course is easy enough to do with no experience. However, if you get it wrong, you will have to pay out for a professional job to be done and this could end up costing you more money than having it done professionally to start with.

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