Water entry into a building is a cause for worry due to damage caused to the interiors and also because of its being the main source of dampness inside. This dampness not only reduces the life of a building but also is the reason for the growth of fungus and its related health issues.
The first thing which comes to mind when hearing about water entry into a building is the roof and it is the foremost problem for anyone living in an independent building. Those living in apartments are spared of this worry (except for those at the very top). With experience in roof repairs this issue has been brought under control to a large extent. However there are other areas which have a lesser impact but is still harmful due to the problems caused. The location we shall discuss in this article is the entry of water at the floor level which we have come across while doing Home Inspection. This problem exists both in apartments as well as in Independent houses/villas. We shall first discuss the problems that exists in Individual houses and villas and then go on to apartments.
It may be noted that locations such as ‘chajjas‘ or sunshades are also points of water leakage and dampness of the walls which we come across while conducting Home Inspection; however, since the causes for this seems obvious, it is more easily taken care of. Moisture entry at the plinth is less clearly understood and is being dealt with here.
You can have your home checked by professional for a root cause analysis of any damp spots
Independent Houses / Villas:
In a house constructed individually, the Contractor usually advises that the plinth height or the height of the floor above the surrounding ground outside be maintained about half a meter higher; this is based on experience and is also as per rules. Hence it is usually done correctly, whereas in villas this good practice is generally not followed. Copying the Architectural style of the US and certain European countries, of making a French window through which a person could walk out from the living room to the garden, the floor level is usually kept the same as the ground outside. What is forgotten here is that there has to be a drain all around the building to prevent the ground water from affecting the floor.
In addition to the above issue, it is seen during Home Inspection that there is frequently no plinth protection to prevent erosion of soil or accumulation of water at the wall on the outside (see Image 1). By plinth we mean the region of masonry from the ground level outside till the floor level. Plinth protection (protecting the ground immediately adjacent to the building) is required to avoid/ reduce water seeping into the earth reaching the plinth wall and climbing up to the floor level by capillary action. A plinth protection usually is done by pouring approximately 75 – 100 mm layer of plain cement concrete along the edge of the building.
Image 1: Gardening and watering outside the building which is lacking in a plinth protection causes water to enter the building through the masonry wall.
This water seepage could cause dampness in the wall and we found it to be regular problem in many of the villas where Home Inspection was conducted.
The cause for floor dampness in apartments is the balcony floor slope which is sometimes not done correctly. Water, instead of flowing towards the floor trap, moves towards the walls around the balcony. This water stagnates at the wall and will dry up after sometime or else could be mopped away. However, when there are gaps between the floor tiles and walls (see image 2), water will enter the masonry and make the wall damp. Sealing such joints in the balcony is the equivalent of Plinth Protection which we saw in the ground floor of the Villa / Independent House.
Image 2: Joint between wall and floor in the balcony shows the gap through which water could get in
This will cause the paint to peel off and cause unseemly patches on the wall (image 3). When the moisture entry is more as it happens during rains, it will cause growth of fungus as well as damage to kitchen cabinets since it is placed against the walls. In our experience, Clients call us for Home Inspection on several occasions to just understand the root cause for dampness due to water seepage from such causes.
Image 3: Wall of balcony (inside view) affected by dampness due to water entry
This video will show you the technology we use in detection of dampness.