Damp proofing your home is a crucial part of the property’s maintenance. It prevents moisture from seeping through the structure’s crevices, which ensures your home’s foundation stays solid and mold-free.
But how do you do it? Can DIY work, or will you need to call in professionals?
This article introduces you to the basics of residential damp-proofing, its associated costs, proven-effective techniques to go about it, and FYIs on which home areas you’ll often need this.
How Do You Damp Proof Your Home?
Damp proofing is a process of coating concrete structures with protective components like asphalt and plastic or copper sheets to keep soil moisture off your property.
Aside from being a critical component of home maintenance, dampproofing is part of building regulations in the U.K.
Here are the general steps to damp proof your home:
1. Identify the areas in your home that require dampproofing.
Certain areas may be prone to soil moisture, depending on your home’s architecture. You must pay attention to places like the parging of masonry walls, interior walling, and basements with high hydrostatic pressure levels.
2. Use a damp coating to seal interior walls.
Identify the materials your interior walls are made of and choose a coating that blends well with it. Damp proofing a concrete wall, for example, is best done using hydraulic cement. Other coating options include epoxy, resin, spray, etc.
3. Seal minor wall cracks with silicone caulk.
Silicone caulks help seal off minor cracks on walls, preventing moisture from seeping through them. You can paint it over after 48 hours for a better wall finish.
4. Cover exterior walls with damp-proofing sheets.
Dampproofing sheets are great options for covering vast areas, especially those exposed to outdoor hazards like your home’s exterior walls. Since it often covers wide spaces, you’ll need assistance from specialists who also ensure sheet installation is done correctly.
5. Consider installing a better ventilation system.
Whether setting up additional windows or using a humidifier, ensuring quality ventilation helps keep your home’s interior dry, reducing condensation. This is especially useful during the cold season.
6. Examine your roof and gutter and fix any leaks.
In some cases, dampness issues are caused by damaged gutters or roofing. Common signs of damage in these areas include wall stains, mould, algae growth, wet roofs without rain, and dripping sound in your attic.
7. Consider installing a new damp proof course.
Damp proof courses (DPC) can last up to 25 years when installed right, but deterioration and ill-fitting setup are common factors for their failure. Rising damp issues are among the most common indicators that your DPC needs replacement.
How Much Does It Cost to Damp-proof Your Home?
Dampproofing costs between £200 and £5,000, depending on your needs. Its average price per metre is £60 and can fluctuate based on a service’s professional charge on your location.
Some reasons why dampproofing costs less include the following:
- There are only minimal damping-related issues in your interior
- The affected area that requires dampproofing focuses on a single location
- You have dampproofing experience and have taken initial steps to prevent the damage
- You’re hiring local damp proof specialists
On the other hand, damp proofing can be expensive under these scenarios:
- The underlying cause of dampness requires property repair
- You want to dampproof the entire house
- Your property’s located in populous cities with higher labour prices
- Installing a brand new damp proof course
- High-end DPC option
- Add-on expenses post-damp proofing procedures like repainting, floor replacement, plastering, and redecorating
Who Can Fix Damp Proofing In Your Home?
You don’t need any licence to perform or fix damp proofing, so anyone can technically do it. However, it requires specific skills to ensure the quality and accuracy of the application.
Hiring professionals is recommended to ensure accuracy and safety. Builders, foundation specialists, contractors, and damp proofers are needed to get the job done.
Should You Hire a Damp Proof Specialist?
Yes, it’s often recommended to hire damp proof specialists. Apart from the hassle-free benefit on your part, you can also take advantage of their professional network.
A great example of their relevant networks is damp surveyors. These professionals inspect your home to assess any existing or potential damp concerns. They are certified and can offer crucial details like the extent of damage and expected costs to address it.
Hiring damp proof specialists to do the legwork also saves you time, protects you from hazard exposure, and gives you peace of mind, knowing you’re leaving the technicalities in experienced hands.
Should You Fix the Dampness Yourself (DIY)?
Yes, it’s worth trying, especially if the issue is minor. However, given how dampness is often detected along with other problems, it’s safe to say you’ll be dealing with more than a single maintenance problem.
Hiring professionals remains a better choice if:
- You don’t know where and how to start
- You want a fast and hassle-free solution
- You suspect there are more dampness-related issues in your home than what meets the eye
- You have zero knowledge and experience in fixing home dampness
What Are the Different Treatments and Solutions for Damp Proofing Your Property?
Like any home maintenance procedure, dampproofing has various options tailored to different needs and budgets. Here’s a list of expert-approved treatment types to damp proof your home the right way.
Damp Proof Course (DPC)
DPCs are protective barriers installed at the lower parts of walls, often during the initial construction. They’re made to be long-term solutions to prevent excess moisture on the ground from rising the walls.
An adequately installed DPC has an average lifespan of 20 to 30 years, making it the most foolproof technique to prevent rising dampness. Still, it’s not immune to deterioration, and home renovations that alter ground level can reduce its efficiency.
Damp Proof Membrane (DPM)
DPMs are plastic sheets made to protect a structure against moisture. They’re installed under concrete floors as a standalone item but can be placed above the walls when used with DPC.
Because they’re made of plastic, incorrect handling and installation can tear the material. When installed right, however, it can last for 30+ years while keeping its superior compressive strength that never fails to absorb moisture.
Damp Proof Injection
Damp proof injection is the process of injecting a silicone-based damp-proofing cream into drilled holes on walls as a remedy for deteriorating DPCs. Instead of replacing the barrier with a new one, damp proof injection offers a permanent remedy at a lesser cost. When applied right, it can last a lifetime.
Damp Proof Plaster
Damp proof plaster is a treatment type used to prevent salt contamination. It’s applied as an add-on protection for your walls apart from the standard DPC. Quality plasters also help prevent mould growth and the effects of condensation, which is often associated with moisture buildup as wall temperature increases.
Damp Proof Paint
Damp proof paint is a specially formulated paint type made to prevent dampness. They zap the moisture out of the walls while preventing it from seeping back in. It’s a standalone treatment that can last years, though not a complete substitute for a fully functional DPC.
Damp Proof Sheet
Damp proof sheet is an alternate term for DPM, which means they can be interchangeably used while referring to the same treatment. Regarding regulations, the British standards have set 1200 gauge (300 micrometres) as the appropriate thickness to ensure the sheet’s efficiency in protecting structures against moisture.
Damp Proof Concrete
Dampproofing concrete is the process of protecting concrete floors against rising damp issues. It has two popular options – liquid membrane application and epoxy coating.
Liquid membrane uses materials made of acrylic, polyurethane, or bituminous substances that you paint on the concrete structure. The exact process applies to epoxy substances, with careful instructions to clean and dry the floor before applying.
Damp Proof Cream
Damp proof cream is the key element used in the damp-proofing injection process. It’s an emulsion formula on a silane base that penetrates mortar and concrete structures. Its damp-proofing formula creates a water-repellent barrier that prevents moisture from entering walls.
Damp Proof Spray
Damp proof spray is a budget-friendly solution to providing moisture protection on your wall with minimal work. Its primary component is tar, impermeable to moisture and water, making it an easy choice for protecting the wall foundation.
While not as long-lasting as the others, adding a double layer of spray on the wall helps extend its protective effect.
Tanking slurries is more like a waterproofing treatment method that acts as a bonding agent to patch cracks in walls. It comes in powder form, which you mix in water to create a paste. Once
done, you brush it over the surface and let the material fix those minor cracks and fissures.
Where Would You Find Dampness In Your Home?
Dampness is common in homes and usually indicates structural issues that may or may not need immediate attention.
The affected area can differ depending on the property type and homeowners’ lifestyle, but these are the most common places with dampness issues:
- Exterior walls
- Roof and ceiling
- Crawl spaces
What Are the Different Types of Damp You Find In a Home?
Damp can occur at anyone’s home, and there’s no foolproof way to ban it permanently. Still, understanding what each type entails helps us prevent the worst-case scenario from happening.
Here are damp’s three main types:
Condensation is the most common damp type. It results from warm air getting in contact with cold air without appropriate home ventilation. This produces moisture that settles on the house’s cold areas like bathroom windows and kitchen.
Rising damp is considered rare, but it is noticeable through the walls of your properties. Signs like wallpapers easily tearing off, dark patches on walls, plaster discolouration, etc., indicate that groundwater has risen and is absorbed up the wall.
Penetrating damp can be the most damaging to buildings when not addressed immediately. It’s common to old properties or those with substandard build. Homes located near the sea are also prone to this damp type.
What Causes Dampness In Your Home?
While moisture is natural, dampness isn’t. When left untreated, its excess moisture is localised in specific areas and often impacts a property’s structural integrity.
Damp buildup has several causes, but these are the most common elements present in residential properties:
Inadequate ventilation attracts mould growth and prevents warm, moisture-packed air from entering the property. As a result, moisture settles on cold areas of the house, like windows and outside walls.
Absence of DPC
Government regulators may now require DPC installation for new properties, but many old homes may not have this. Without this water-resistant component supporting your home’s structure, you increase the risk of experiencing rising damp issues.
Rusty and defective pipes are notorious for causing leaks. Even a minor issue can trigger a damp buildup at home, which can escalate quickly if not addressed.
Rising groundwater levels
There’s no stopping this natural phenomenon from happening, which is why houses are built above ground level. Over the years, ground levels have increased, boosting moisture levels on lower surfaces.
How Do You Prevent Dampness In Your Home?
Dampness at home might be a headache, but you can do many things to prevent it from happening and keep your place comfortable.
- Open your windows or invest in better ventilation.
- Keep heating to a minimum.
- Leave internal doors open.
- Conduct regular checks on your plumbing, drainage, and guttering system.
- Check for any signs of rot and peeling paint to repair it as soon as possible.
- Always close the kitchen doors when cooking.
- Be prompt in wiping off condensation or moisture that accumulates on windows.
- Pay close attention to fireplaces. Burning fuel causes high salt levels, increasing susceptibility to dampness.
- Dry your clothes outside.
- Keep the home temperature consistent.
- Avoid placing furniture against external walls.
- Consider using a humidifier.
- Check any cracks in walls and seal them as soon as possible.
- Keep lids on cooking pans.
- Open the bedroom windows in the morning.
What Types of Residential Properties Are More Likely to Have Damp?
- Condominium: Faulty building structure, which is beyond your control, may cause plumbing issues and leaks.
- Townhouse: Old properties can have problems with failed DPC, impacting the property’s capacity to ward off excess moisture.
- Mobile Home: Exposure to harsh elements as you drive the mobile home from one place to another can contribute to mould buildup. Untimely waste disposal can also cause foul odour and mould to grow.
Are There Any Household Products That Help Remove Damp and Mould?
Yes, there are household products you can use to get rid of dampness and mould at home. Some are organic; others are synthetic.
Hydrogen Peroxide and vinegar are two household staples that double as mould-repellant. You can put hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle and apply it to the affected area. Leave it for a few minutes, then wipe off the mould.
Lemon juice is another home remedy handy when you run out of cleaning supplies. Clean the area with soap and water, then apply the lemon juice directly on the mould. Scrub the area with a brush, and you’re good to go.
Lastly, try baking soda. It has an excellent cleansing and deodorising effect, the perfect non-toxic remedy for removing mould. Baking soda’s flexible, too. You can use it as spray, paste, or a combination.