Dampness – Causes, Prevention and Treatment
Homes are being built at a staggering rate in Pakistan. Everyone wants their own space, whether it’s furnished luxuriously or not at all. But a recurrent problem with houses both old and new is that of dampness (which could eventually lead to seepage). There is always a wall which suffers from crumbling plaster, blotchy paint or growing mold.
The three main types of dampness are condensation (warm moist air meeting a cooler surface), rising damp (walls absorbing moisture through capillary action) and penetrating damp (water that enters through walls due to lack of guttering or waterproofing on the exterior).
Why has this sight become so commonplace?
Possible reasons are:
- Defects or cracks in the DPC
- Degradation of the brickwork
- Unsealed joints in roof coverings or chimneys
- Penetration through doors, windows or skylights
- Improper ventilation
Even orientation of walls also makes a difference – southern walls are more exposed to moisture laden winds.
Besides being an eyesore, it has adverse effects on indoor air quality. Growth of mold on damp walls or ceilings can cause respiratory infections, bronchitis and asthma.
How to prevent it?
First and foremost, money spent on a solid 2” thick DPC (vertical and horizontal) is a worthwhile investment. The damp proof course blocks the path of water flow, from the soil in contact with the building’s foundation.
Using waterproof paints and other non-porous cladding material on external walls is another useful measure; also rooms should be given windows or ventilators to allow the flow of fresh air to and from the space.
How to treat damp?
It’s necessary to determine the type of damp, before deciding upon how to treat it.
Condensation can be prevented by adding openings, or in some cases, dehumidifiers. Make sure the room temperature remains even – drastic changes from hot to cold are often problematic.
Defects in the DPC need to be inspected by a building surveyor. Oftentimes holes are drilled into the building wall and injected with damp proof cream. But this solution is highly subjective and individual cases do vary based on careful examination.
Penetrating damp is treated by replacing faulty pipes and drainage gutters. Gaps in roof joints are also detected and sealed.
The stained wall itself can only be safely treated by removing the paint entirely. Sources do suggest bleaching the stained area, but its best to do a thorough job when dealing with bacteria.
After all, it’s your health.
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