What is Penetrating Damp?
We recently wrote a detailed article on the subject of damp on walls in your property. In that article we looked at the top 5 causes of damp and Penetrating Damp was one of the things mentioned on that list.
Penetrating Damp is a fairly common occurrence in the UK, especially on older properties. In a nutshell, it is caused by water or moisture external to the property coming through (hence ‘penetrating’) the external fabric of a building. As you might expect, properties (even older ones) are generally designed to keep moisture out as that can cause issues such as mould problems.
Penetrating damp is more common at lower level in properties (like rising damp is too) but it can be found in other areas. It can be caused by a particular sudden piece of damage to the property or a defect which has progressed over time. As you might expect, the relatively wet climate in the UK (especially in winter months) can make the problem worse here and a lot of issues from penetrating damp is worsened by weather conditions (especially rain!), storms etc. But remember a water leak could be the cause too, or making an existing issue worse through the amount of water (more on that later).
Identifying penetrating damp in your property is something best done asap as, over time, the problem is likely to get worse. If you have a penetrating damp problem, get help from a professional such as ourselves asap.
Signs of Penetrating Damp
In our article about signs of a water leak, we listed the top 10 things to look out for that might give a clue that you might have a water leak. Interestingly, 6 things on that list can be a sign of penetrating damp too:
- Visible signs of Damp, Water or Moisture – as we said earlier, unless it’s in something like a sink or bath, excessive moisture or even water is not normal in a property. So if you spot a damp patch on walls, it could be a sign of penetrating damp. In some instances this can include efflorescence problems on walls, especially brickwork.
- High Humidity and / or Increased Condensation – we’ve written a lot about relative humidity in properties as well as condensation – including bathroom condensation, condensation on windows, condensation in lofts, condensation on pipes and more. Clearly, condensation isn’t unusual in a property. However, if you start to spot unusually high condensation (especially in unusual places), particularly if that is alongside other things on this list, do not ignore it.
- Structural Changes to your Property – this is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario as structural changes (such as cracks etc) can be a cause of penetrating damp but also penetrating damp can cause structural changes to your property. If you have spotted this in your property on the inside of your house (cracking or movement), again if this in a spot where you see moisture or mould etc, then look into it further before it gets too bad.
- Musty Odours and Smells – many of us will be familiar with the ‘regular smells’ of our own homes and equally, have a keen nose for spotting something out of the ordinary. If you smell a musty or damp odour somewhere in your house, look into it further. Again, if you see some of the other things on this list in the vicinity of the smell, that is extra evidence of possible penetrating damp. On the subject of unusual smells…
- New Mould Appearing or Increasing – just like we said about condensation problems above (and mould often goes hand-in-hand with that), mould is something we have discussed a lot elsewhere including our article explaining how to stop mould on walls as well as our general guide to mould problems in your property. Although mould spores (think of them like the seeds to grow mould) are not necessarily uncommon in properties, mould growth should not be happening, certainly exessively. So if you spot mould, especially in unusual places, you may have a damp problem. Remember, mould needs moisture to thrive and that can come from penetrating damp or a water leak.
- Staining or Bubbling on Walls or Ceilings – the final thing on this list, which again can be combined with other things on this list is visible staining on walls or ceilings etc. In fact, often ceiling leaks can turn out to be from penetrating damp problems rather than an actual water leak. Be on the lookout for unusual staining or marks on the wall. Again, you guessed it, especially if you spot other things on this list!
Penetrating Damp, Rising Damp or Water Leak?
As we said in the previous section, penetrating damp can have signs that are comparable to rising damp or even a water leak. So how do you know which problem you have? Clearly this is important because both the treatment and remedy for the problem will depend on what the issue is with your property.
Remember, as we also said earlier, there are some instances where these things can happen together. For example, an water leak outside combined with an area susceptible to penetrating damp is not unusual. One can be made worse by the other.
Our damp survey services use sophisticated tools (such as damp meters) as well as other equipment and bespoke processes and reporting to help understand your problem. All of this of course is combined with the expertise, knowledge, training and experience of our technicians – they can help to spot things that the untrained eye may not.
A good example is spotting things like potential damp proof paint or anti condensation paint etc. This can be a sign that a previous homeowner has tried to do a DIY solution to a problem which needs a more thorough solution.
Identifying Penetrating Damp – Damp Surveys
Depending on the individual property and circumstances relating to the specific damp problem, our damp surveys may incorporate the following elements:
- Moisture Survey & Mapping – measuring range and extent of damp
- Salts Analysis Tests – to test what the water source is
- Thermal Imaging Surveys – to check for hot or cold spots
- Leak Detection Surveys – if needed, to see if there is a leak
- Internal & External Inspections – checking the building fabric
- Borescope Camera & Pipework Surveying – to see in cavities and voids
These are just some of the possible elements of a damp survey and, at the end of the process, our technicians will write a report to collate all this information. Damp surveys are almost always completed within a day, often within a few hours depending on the size of a property and the scale of the damp problem.
Other Contributors to Penetrating Damp
Although penetrating damp can be a problem alone, there are certain factors which can make the situation worse or at least more complicated. They may even cause the issue:
- Storm Damage, including Winter Storms like Beast from the East
- Very hot or cold weather – including frozen pipes
- Age, condition and maintenance levels of a property
- On that, things like broken gutters or drains (and drainage issues)
- Damage to roofs (roof leaks), brickwork or mortar etc
- Lack of proper damp proofing measures
- Poor ventilation / airflow etc (natural and mechanical)
- On that, Air bricks can help with improving air flow
- Flooding in the area – putting pressure on existing issues
- Many other things which our staff are watching out for!
Next we look at drying properties with penetrating damp issues.
Drying Penetrating Damp
Clearly it is important to resolve the issue causing penetrating damp in a property (more on that in a bit) but either to control the moisture until that fix or to thoroughly dry the property after damp repairs have been completed, drying is often needed.
We are experts in water damage restoration and work for many leading home insurance companies, we also offer a range of other water damage services related to this. We can help make sure that your property is dried back to its regular, pre-incident condition. You can find out more on the About Us page which has useful information.
Is Penetrating Damp Easy to Fix?
To be very honest, this is not a simple thing to answer as clearly the cause of your penetrating damp problem (or water leak) can sometimes be something very simple and straightforward. Whereas, as you can imagine, at the other end of the scale it can be something major of a structural problem which is the cause. As you might expect also, the scale, age and design of a property can affect this.
Our damp survey service will help you with this and give you useful information to help understand the cause of penetrating damp issues and then discuss possible solutions to the problem.
For more information on penetrating damp, check out our article about types of damp.
If you have problems with damp, mould, condensation, water damage or a water leak, get in touch with our team today and we will be happy to discuss this with you.
Will penetrating damp dry out?
It is possible to dry out penetrating damp. However, unless you fix the cause of the penetrating damp in your property (which can be a number of things), then the drying will likely only be temporary until another event (such as rain) causes further moisture to enter your property. It is far better to diagnose and fix the problem first, then dry afterwards.
Is penetrating damp serious?
Penetrating damp certainly can be a serious issue for a property and, if left unchecked or remedied, can cause water damage or structural damage to your home or contents. However, this will greatly depend on a number of factors, in particular how significant the issue is that is causing the penetrating damp and the scale of it. That is assuming it is penetrating damp and not something else causing the problem with damp in your home, such as a water leak.