Issue: Signs of rising damp in 100-year-old local authority building.
Survey Type Booked - Damp - Free of charge as regular commercial client.
We were asked to inspect a local authority building as there were possible issues with reported dampness, possibly signs of rising damp, which had been steadily getting worse over the last few years and became much worse during wet winter months.
The area internally was used as office space, and people working within the area had reported the issue to the maintenance team numerous times over the last two or three years.
Assessing Signs of Rising Damp
Maintenance had told us that they keep painting over the issue, but the damp keeps coming back.
We were met at the building by a member of the maintenance team who explained to us that they have redecorated the areas affected every year using ‘damp blocking paint’ but the issue remains, they have decided to employ a specialist to investigate further on their behalf.
The very first thing that raised eyebrows was the fact that we were ushered to a lift and taken to the third floor!
I have seen dampness under certain circumstances rise through the construct of solid buildings up to and sometimes exceeding 5 or 6 feet in height however I have never seen an instance of rising dampness rising 60 feet high.
Very obvious signs of rising damp on the plasterwork, around the doors and in between the windows. The decorative spoiling caused by moisture presence was noted, and some timber windowsills were also beginning to show signs of decay.
The maintenance engineer asked if I were going to test the walls for dampness and he couldn’t wait to see the results. However, I told him that there would be no need this time to test the walls as we know clearly that there is a huge amount of moisture present. I asked if I exit on the adjacent fire escape to look on the outside and also if I could get out onto the flat roof above.
Unfortunately, we were unable to gain access to the flat roof as no risk assessment had taken place. However, the maintenance engineer said that the last time he was up there, the water was pooling around the perimeter under the parapet wall.
Exiting on the fire escape and looking at the affected areas externally it was very obvious that there were issues with the rainwater goods. I could clearly see that the hopper pot at the top of the downpipe was blocked and that water exiting from the flat roof of that area was running directly down the outside of the downpipe (which was original, cast iron) and also down the adjacent masonry.
From our point of view, there were no specialist remedial treatments or actions required by us.
However, we made a point to the maintenance engineer that without delay the rainwater goods around the property should be inspected further and any defects rectified. The flat roof coverings above should have an inspection at their very earliest convenience and that an ongoing programme of external maintenance and observation should be introduced.
Also that they should continue to ensure that the building is maintained in as dry a condition as possible failure to maintain the external of the building always leads to internal issues with the fabric of the building beneath, especially in a solid construct such as this.
Maybe not quite so much damage would have occurred if these issues had been picked up much earlier.
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