The primary reason that building materials deteriorate faster than they might otherwise, is the influence of water. Last month, we covered condensation Â and this month weâ€™re going to take a look at water ingress â€“ which is the entry of water from outside, into the structure and internal environment of the building.
Buildings are created to be watertight and much trouble is taken over ensuring that water cannot enter the building. But deterioration over time can open up access to water and the results can be extremely damaging.
Faults which allow water entry are typically located at the joins of building elements. Common problem areas include:
- Faulty chimney flashing
- Missing or broken roofing tiles or slates
- Broken or full guttering
- Flat roofs laid at the wrong angle or with a deteriorated surface
- Cracked mortar joints
- Bridged damp-proof course (eg. soil build up above the level of the dpc)
- Faulty flashing around windows or doors
Often though, the reason for water ingress is difficult to identify from an external inspection. The problem may be internal, as is the case with:
- Plumbing defects
- Close-fitting linoleum vinyl fitted over un-ventilated timber floors
- Solid floors with wooden skirtings or other connected timbers, where no separating membrane exists or where the membrane has been compromised
Whatever the cause, water ingress can create damp patches and promote wood rot, discolouration and decay. The problem is not limited to older, solid-walled properties either â€“ even cavity walled homes must, by necessity, compromise the cavity with cavity wall ties which bridge the gap, allowing water to track across into the inner leaf.
Unlike condensation, which can often be addressed by fairly simple routine changes and minor investment, water ingress is more difficult to diagnose and potentially more damaging. It therefore warrants the opinion of a surveying expert in each case, to identify the root cause and suggest methods for addressing the issue.
Typically, the resolution will be broken down into two parts: closing off the method of entry and drying out the effected areas.
Beware of simply drying out the area, but not addressing the underlying problem in order to save costs. This may be financially attractive and is all too common, but addressing the issue directly will pay dividends over time.
In some scenarios, the cause of water ingress can be several feet away from the symptom â€“ eg. a damp patch. It takes a trained eye to accurately locate the fault, so do be sure to speak with your local surveyor if you suspect a water ingress issue.
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