Damp walls in Sevenoaks home

Issue: Condensation on walls in a tenanted house in Ashford, TN24

Survey Type Booked - Damp - Snapshot as homeowner present.

We were asked to inspect the damp walls in a property in Sevenoaks Kent by a homeowner who had lived in the property for approximately a year, this being the first winter they had been in residency.

The homeowners had redecorated when they moved in, in April 2019, however, these issues had become more apparent in the colder, winter months of December and January 2020.

They wanted to try to resolve the issue before redecorating again.

Penetrative Damp
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Findings

The damp patches on the walls can be seen in the photograph within the kitchen area above work surfaces and tiles. The homeowner informed us that they appeared almost instantly after they had first decorated, then sometimes dried out, but during periods of heavy rain, they became clear again.

A building friend of the homeowners had suggested that there was an issue with rising dampness and that they should get a new damp proof course introduced, however, this would have had no benefit in relation to the damp walls as the problem was being caused by poor quality dry lining, introduced just before the kitchen had been fitted.

The system of dry lining is called dot and dab, in layman’s terms, an adhesive is applied directly onto plasterboards which are then stuck to the original wall surface behind which, in this case, is a solid 225 mm (9 inches) typical Victorian wall.

This wall has had residual dampness issues caused, mainly, by rainwater penetration which during periods of prolonged, heavy rainfall can migrate from the outside to the inside. They then record as damp patches through the adhesive showing itself on the surface of the plasterboard.  This is, unfortunately, a very typical form of the dry lining which is normally fine on dry areas but certainly not on areas that are subject to dampness.

We were also asked to look around the front entrance door and the front elevation window as ‘dampness’ was beginning to show.

As can be seen in the attached photos, the dampness around the door and the window was actually condensation black spot mould. Testing of the areas using sensitive, specialist equipment revealed there to be no high moisture presence to these areas.

Solution

Regarding the condensation and black spot mould issue, the owner was educated of the importance of heating and ventilation and that this issue only ever builds up on cooler surfaces which is normally around doors and window.  Water-resistant sealants were renewed around doors and windows to help try to stop cold air passing through cracks and internally to raise the surface temperature slightly we introduced a thermal micro-emulsion to the affected areas, these emulsions house microscopic glass balls which absorb heat from the surrounding atmosphere and hold onto it raising surface temperatures.

With regards to the damp walls in the kitchen in an ideal world, the poor quality dry linings would be removed. A certificated failsafe damp proofing system would be introduced to prevent decorative spoiling caused by dampness present and bound up in the construct of the property. However, this would not have been cost-effective for the homeowner so as a trial and error exercise, externally after preparation we applied a silicone-based, vapour-permeable, transparent rainwater repellent to help prevent rainwater ingress, while still allowing the natural drying process to occur through it during periods of dry warm weather. It is so important to use the correct product rather than off-the-shelf water repellents which may be counter-productive.

We also repaired and tested the defective rainwater goods directly above. In theory, this will help prevent any further water ingress migrating through to the surface, however, the homeowner was informed that the damp patches on the walls may still come and go depending on the internal environmental conditions. The homeowner was happy with this and has agreed to have a certificated damp proofing system internally during the next round of kitchen refurbishments.

Simply introducing a new damp proof course to this area would have cost the homeowner in the region of £500 and would have had no benefits to the issues.

It is always advisable to speak to a fully qualified experienced Property Care Association member when dealing with these issues.

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