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Does Your Home Suffer From Rising Damp?

A common defect we often find at pre-purchase building inspections in Adelaide is "rising damp" or sometimes referred to as "salt damp" (particularly in older homes).

Rising damp is a common problem that occurs in buildings, usually in older structures. It refers to the upward movement of groundwater through porous building materials such as bricks, mortar, and concrete. This moisture travels through capillary action, where water is drawn upward against the force of gravity.

When rising damp occurs, it can lead to various issues such as damage to the building's structure, decay of timber elements, deterioration of plaster and paint, and the growth of mold and mildew. It can also create an unhealthy living environment by increasing humidity levels and promoting the release of allergens.

Treating rising damp involves a combination of identifying the source of moisture, addressing the underlying causes, and implementing appropriate remedial measures. Here are some common methods used to treat rising damp:

1. Damp-proof course (DPC)

A DPC is a barrier installed in the walls near ground level to prevent the upward movement of moisture. It can be made of materials such as bitumen, plastic, or slate. The installation of a DPC involves creating a horizontal gap in the masonry and inserting the barrier material.

2. Chemical damp-proofing

This method involves injecting a chemical damp-proofing solution into the affected walls. The solution forms a waterproof barrier within the capillaries of the masonry, preventing the passage of moisture. Chemical damp-proofing is typically carried out by trained professionals and can be effective in treating rising damp.

3. Drainage improvements

Poor drainage around the building can contribute to rising damp. Ensuring that rainwater is effectively directed away from the structure through the installation of proper gutters, downspouts, and drainage systems can help minimize the amount of moisture reaching the building's foundation.

4. Structural repairs

In some cases, rising damp may be caused by structural defects such as cracked or damaged walls or faulty guttering. Repairing these defects can help prevent the ingress of moisture into the building.

5. Ventilation and airflow

Adequate ventilation is crucial to prevent the buildup of moisture within the building. This can be achieved by installing vents, airbricks, or extractor fans in areas prone to dampness, such as basements, kitchens, and bathrooms. Good airflow helps to dry out damp areas and reduce the risk of condensation.

6. Surface treatments

Applying waterproof coatings or water-repellent sealants to the affected walls can help reduce the absorption of moisture. These treatments create a barrier on the surface of the masonry, preventing water penetration.

It's important to note that the effectiveness of rising damp treatments may vary depending on the severity of the problem, the construction of the building, and other factors. In some cases, a combination of different methods may be required for effective treatment.

Regular maintenance and monitoring of the building's condition are also essential to detect and address rising damp early. This may involve periodic inspections, checking for signs of dampness such as damp patches, peeling paint, or musty odors.

In conclusion, rising damp is a common issue that can cause significant damage to buildings. Treating rising damp involves identifying the source of moisture, addressing underlying causes, and implementing appropriate remedial measures such as the installation of damp-proof courses, chemical damp-proofing, improving drainage, conducting structural repairs, ensuring proper ventilation, and applying surface treatments. Seeking professional advice and assistance is recommended to accurately diagnose and treat rising damp.

Let Just Inspections carry out your next pre-purchase building inspection in Adelaide. We'll identify this costly problem before you decide to buy.


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