Damp Proofing London

Is Damp that Bad?

As a result of the maritime climate of the British Isles, London’s weather is notoriously rainy and damp, with frequent precipitation all year round. This kind of humidity, combined with London's low-lying basin geology and its proximity to the river Thames, are constant threats against all properties (older and newer), especially those which are not waterproofed.

London rarely stays dry for long, so without suitable damp proofing, excessive moisture can become the source of a wide range of problems; from minor inconveniences, like spoiling decorative finishes such as paintwork and soft furnishings, to more serious issues, like weakening the structural integrity of the building itself.

humidity-damage Apart from your property, dampness can be a risk for your health as well. According to the Canada lung association, humid buildings with mould issues can cause respiratory infections, aggravate asthma and trigger a number of allergic reactions usually through condensation build-up in your lungs. Also, humid houses are prime candidates for developing black mould (Stachybotryschartarum), a variety that produces mycotoxins that can lead to a variety of problems (from skin inflammation to mental impairment).

black mould

Damp problems are not always visible to the untrained eye. While mould is always an obvious way to tell whether your property is in dire need of a repair, buildings that are exposed to cold and wet conditions for prolonged periods might develop problems that can go unnoticed until it is too late.

Types of Damp Proofing Issues That Affect Londoners

In general, there are three main damp problems that affect London’s buildings. They can all cause damage that you would normally associate with dampness, but it is the way that the dampness gets into the building that differs. Every problem needs a special approach that can only be correctly calculated by booking a free inspection with DPL today.

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Rising Damp

Rising Dampis one of the most usual problems that plague London properties. It is called "rising" because it affects building by rising up from ground level through the force of gravity. Water from the ground gets absorbed by the porous building material, pushing all the way up through the brick and mortar via capillaryaction (like a sponge or a paper napkin soaking in water).


Water in itself is not so dangerous. The problem starts because ground water is basically a solution of salts and minerals that stay behind long after the water evaporates. This residue not only stains walls but absorbs even more humidity, growing your problems.

These minerals fall into two categories:

Non-hygroscopic sulphates, which appear as a flimsy layer of dust on the wall and are generally not that harmful and hygroscopic nitrates/chlorides, that are the culprit for drawing more rising damp through the building material of a property, slowly corrupting it from the inside.

Some typical symptoms are mould on the walls, rot on wooden frames or floorboards, soakingwallpapers and stains on the walls. You will also notice problems when painting, as the paint will not stick to the walls. These symptoms are quite similar to the ones that show in penetrating damp problems, however rising damp can only occur on ground floors. Because different problems call for different solutions, it is best that you consult our experts if you are unsure.

Rising damp is generally caused by either a missing Damp Proof Course (DPC) or a DPC that has been compromised in some way.Affected roomscan be treated by redecorating or replastering, but unless the seat of the problem is tackled,these are merelytemporarysolutions to a lasting issue and it will only be a matter of time before the damp is once again visible.


Penetrating damp

As we all know, rain in London is like is almost unbearably frequent. This is why penetrating damp (rain penetrating the walls through masonry) is as common a problem as the one we described above. In such cases, moisture enters a building horizontally (and not from the ground up) through the walls.

This most often occurs when there is a building fault (or bad handiwork), such as a broken gutter or drainpipe, which causes water to pool against the exterior of the building and consequently seep through to the interior. This usually happens in older buildings with single-skin walls, although technically, no property is safe without proper insulation.

Another main cause of penetrating damp is via an earth retaining wall (that is to say a wall whose exterior is below the level of the ground such as a basement or a building built into a slope). In any case, penetrating damp can seriously undermine the structure of your walls and must be addressed by professionals.

How to tell whether you have a penetrating damp problem

Although the method of entry for penetrating damp differs to that of rising damp, the results are more or less the same; stained decoration, mould and mildew, rotten skirtings and woodwork, salt crystallisation on walls, crumbling plaster and that overpowering mouldy stench of decay. However, bear in mind that symptoms of penetrating damp issues might take a while to appear, as the water is slowly absorbed by the pores of the wall.


Condensation Problems

Condensation problems are the final piece of the “common London house damp problems” trinity. However, unlike rising and penetratingdamp, you can deal with condensation far more easily.

Condensationoccurs when warm moist air meets a cold surface. In cases like that, the warm air becomes unable to retain its humidity, releasing it into the surface it touched. This process creates condensation. Although this doesn’t sound like much, in places with bad ventilation and fluctuating temperatures, condensation can quickly cause mould problems.

Old-style portable gas heaters are one of the worst culprits for causing condensation in houses, through a process called flue gas condensation: when natural gas is burned, it releases carbon dioxide and water vapour. Without a flue to distribute these by-products outside, warm (i.e. moist) air will build up inside the house, forming condensation on every colder surface it touches. If not taken care of, this can lead to potentially dangerous situations, like humidity reaching a power point.


Why Damp Proofing London?

All of the above damp problems have one thing in common: treating the symptoms will not cure the problem. Also, since we are talking about specialised problems, DIY solutions will not get you very far(unless you are a licensed damp proofing professional). You can spend a lifetime, and large amounts of your hard earned cash, applying bleach and mould resistant paints and sprays. Unless you tackle the roots of the problem with proper methods like wall and cellar tanking or proper waterproofing, your damp will keep returning, often with more vigour each time as water builds up within walls and woodwork that are out of sight.

If you have (or you suspect that you have) problems with damp contact our professionals for a free, no-nonsense, no-obligation survey. It will not cost you anything, and can potentially save you a lot of money in the long run.




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Contact us today on:        077 0908 4010

020 8378 0089

Unit 142 Culvert Court, Culvert Road, London, SW11 5AU