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October 10, 2020

Avoid damage of walls from dampness

Dampness can be a serious problem in any home and often indicates structural or waterproofing issues. It makes a room feel cold and unwelcoming and can be unhealthy for the users.
Dampness is the result of excess moisture. It quickly forms in bad weather, especially if there is an issue with the exterior of the building.  The common factors that allow moisture into any home include poor ventilation, leaking roof, failed damp proof course, rain seeping in due to damaged roof or windows, condensation, and plumbing problems such as leaking inside the toilet and kitchen. Symptoms of damping include damp patches, black fungal growth, hygroscopic salt contamination, and crumbling plaster.
It is always a big challenge for engineers, contractors, and the owner of a building to resolve these issues.

Common reasons for the above problem are as follows:-

1. Seepage of water from the toilet on the other side of the wall.

Toilets are the most vulnerable part of any home that can cause leakage and dampness, if not built properly. The water line pipes laid must be of good quality (CPVC SDR 11). Pressure testing has to be done on the waterline to ensure no leakage.  After laying the pipes the entire area is made dust-free and, waterproofing is done on the floor as well as the walls. Spacing on the floor and wall must be filled with tile joint and epoxy.
The above process will avoid water penetration and in turn wetting of the wall on another side.

2. Rising Dampness

Rising dampness only happens at ground floor levels as the moisture drawn up the wall comes from the soil in the ground due to capillarity( water resist the pull of gravity and rise through cavities even up to 14 meters)
Rising dampness signs include the decaying of skirting boards, crumbling plaster and tide marks on walls, white salt stains.  Here the first check is to make sure that water is directed away from the building by giving exterior grading. It is often confused with dampness caused by condensation and hence seeks out the wrong treatment. Therefore, it is advisable to get an expert opinion.

3. Penetrating Dampness

Seepage of water through sunshade, open terrace and cracks on the outer wall is a common phenomenon especially for building without periodic maintenance. Since the weather in Kerala is 6 to 7 months of rain, chances of algae formation are very high on the outer sides of the building if not properly maintained. The affected area will absorb water and facilitate percolation. Electrical conduits open to the outside will allow water to come inside.
Fixing this problem is costly and hence prevention is better. Periodic cleaning of all exposed surfaces such as roof terrace, shades, and joints is the best way to get rid of this problem.

4. Condensation Damp.

Condensation is arguably the most common form of dampness. It is caused by an excess of moisture in the air that reacts with a cold surface such as a wall. When the water vapor attains dew point, it condenses to form a liquid. (In cold regions you can notice droplets on a window glass) when the warm moist air touches a cold internal wall, condensation occurs.

The best way to avoid condensation is to keep the moisture levels in the air to a minimum through good ventilation, opening windows to allow air to circulate, and switch on the fan for some time.

Repairing Damage Caused by Damp.

Once the affected area has been cleaned and thoroughly dried it can be treated with a damp seal and then re-painted.
In short, to overcome this problem, we need to be cautious during and after construction.
After construction, periodic maintenance at least once in 3 months with a thorough cleaning of the entire building is highly essential to get rid of this problem and many connected issues in the future including the strength of the building. Treat your house as a living being.