For many people it is the case that you may have never thought about dampness from the ground rising through building foundations into the walls, since this is taken as homogenous in all homes and so builders automatically install damp resistant materials. However, this ignorance is apparent when individuals design and build their own garden wall, for instance, when they have poor knowledge of all the materials needed. But why is damp such a problem?
This video highlights the main reasons why all modern buildings are rising-damp resistant. Damp is never good for any wall as it can cause mould, crumbling of the wall and can even lead to a loss of insulation as it all gets soaked, leaving your house in a mess. This is the same for your garden wall, which is why the same attention needs to be given to damp proofing it as you would give to damp proofing your house.
The industry solution is to place damp proof course in the wall between the foundation and the wall bricks, made invisible by covering it in cement. This material is thin and has grooves in order to bond to the cement better. Unfortunately, some people on the internet claim that you should not put this in your walls, for it causes the wall to just slip over the course, but this is only the case if cement has not been applied correctly or sufficiently.
Secondly, builders lay damp proof membrane on top of the building foundation layer of concrete, to stop water rising into the floor of the house, although you will not be using this material in your garden wall but you could use it if you were building a patio for instance.
Lastly, recently damp proof building blocks have been developed to be placed instead of foundation bricks and remove the need for damp proof course, although overall this solution is more expensive. You could however use these in your garden wall and will surely provide a sturdy base.
Overall, what is sure is that you cannot build any structure which meets the ground without forgetting to impede the rise of damp for if not, the whole structure will be left vulnerable.
There are many different types of damp that can affect your house. It is very easy to incorrectly diagnose the type of damp you find, so it is important to make sure you know how to properly identify it before treating it. Let’s take a look more specifically at the three types of damp and why it is important to treat it as soon as you spot it.
This is a common problem found in the home, most notably identified by water appearing at the bottom of a wall, rising upwards as the name suggests. As water soaks into the wall from the ground it slowly moves upwards, causing further damage to the wall. As one of the first signs of rising damp is a decaying skirting board, being aware of this and regularly checking the board can help quickly locate damp in a room. Although most houses have waterproof barriers built into the walls, known as damp proof courses, these can fail and allow water to seep through.
Unlike rising damp, penetrating damp can be found all over a wall or on part of the ceiling in your house. In this case water leaks through at any part of the wall, rather than through the bottom at ground level. If you spot dark patches on the walls or ceiling of your house it is likely to be penetrating damp, and needs to be treated as soon as possible. Be extra vigilant around winter, as the wet and cold weather seems to increase the problem. Although small cases of damp may disappear again during warmer weather, it is best not to ignore it and treat it at first sight. Like with rising damp, substandard structuring is likely to be the cause, for example damaged or blocked guttering.
Perhaps the most common form of damp in properties, condensation is a big issue in the winter when the walls are exposed to evaporated moisture caused by the warm temperatures of heating. Poorly ventilated houses where windows are kept shut can cause the tell-tale signs of droplets of water to form, which then run down the windows and into the walls. Bathrooms are particularly prone to condensation as the moisture from the warm water of the shower fails to escape the house and settles on the walls. One of the first signs of a condensation problem is mould growth – often in the form of black spot mould, which can also act as a good indicator to the extent of the problem. Opening up windows in the house and installing extraction fans are just a couple of suggested methods to minimise condensation.
Each of these three types of damp can prove problematic if not treated soon after identification. However there are many damp proofing treatment solutions on offer to help clear up damp in the house.
About The Author
Timberwise provide property care services for domestic and commercial building preservation, from basement waterproofing and dry rot/wet rot to damp, rising damp, damp proofing and woodworm.