Nemmadi Casefiles : Unique Dampness Issues – sources, prevention & causes

Dampness in the Building

Dampness in buildings is a very common issue caused by various defects in the buildings/structure. Prolonged dampness in a building can cause various defects in the building. Apart from creating unhealthy living conditions, dampness also affects the life of a structure.

    • Dampness and damp areas create a conducive environment for breeding of mosquitoes, fungi and other insects/termites which leads to unhealthy living conditions leading to diseases such as tuberculosis, asthma etc.
    • Aesthetic damage to the walls and ceiling.
    • Damage to the wall decoration and painting.
    • Continuous presence of moisture in the walls may cause efflorescence resulting in disintegration of bricks, stones, tiles, etc., and consequent reduction in strength.

 

  • Timber fittings, such as doors, windows, almarahs, wardrobes etc., coming in contact with damp walls, damp floors may get deteriorated because of warping, buckling, dry-rotting of timber.

 

  • Electrical fittings get deteriorated, giving rise to leakage of electricity and consequent danger of short circuiting.

 

 

  • Moisture causes rusting and corrosion of metal fittings attached to walls, floors and ceiling.

Types of Dampness in the building

There are generally four types of dampness affecting the buildings:

1. Rising Damp It is the slow, upward movement of moisture from the ground, through the connecting pours of bricks and mortar, by capillary action. 
2. Lateral DampThis type of damp penetrates through a wall from a higher external ground (earth retaining) or a higher adjoining concrete floor and spreads laterally in the walls. It causes walls to be very wet and often does more rapid and severe internal damage.
3. Condensation DampWhen the water vapour produced in homes reaches a cooler surface, condensation happens. If this happens too much, it causes a condensation dampness on the surfaces like walls, furniture and windows as the warm moisture-filled air hits the cooler surfaces and releases the water on them.
4. Penetration DampnessIt occurs where water penetrates the home due to damage to the weatherproofing of the property. This can also be a malfunctioning gutter, water taps or allows rain to penetrate the walls, causing dampness.

 

Dampness in buildings can originate from internal defects or external defects in a building. 

  • Internal defects in plumbing lines in the wet areas like Bathroom, Toilets, Kitchen, Utility, Balcony etc. which can cause rising dampness in walls, dampness in floor, dampness/leakage in ceiling of below floor in apartments, penetrating dampness in walls etc., and condensation dampness in poorly ventilated parts of the building.
  • External defects like shrinkage cracks in the external walls, defects in cladding joints/hollowness in cladding, cracks in terrace slab, deteriorated joints in storm water drain outlets etc. cause dampness in various parts of the building. Another important aspect leading to defects in structure and dampness, subsequently, is the vegetation growth in external parts of the building (like, for example, on a terrace). The roots of these vegetation penetrate through the concrete slabs/walls. Consequently, when the plant keeps growing, the roots penetrate through the building slabs/walls and create more defects in the structure and irreparable damage to the building.

 

Nemmadi has been involved in many dampness inspections, both internal and external.

Unique Cases

A few of the unique/important issues of dampness experienced by Nemmadi during our day-to-day inspection are discussed herein.

External Dampness: 

  1. One inspection of an apartment complex was a very curious case of dampness which was solved after much deliberation. Walls of staircase were found to be severely affected by dampness. As usual, to determine the root cause, the adjacent flat was checked for source of dampness and nothing suspicious was found. Then, presence of water lines, ducts etc. near to the spot under inspection were also checked but this also did not solve the problem. Finally, it was decided to pour the water into the window frame from where the dampness was originating.  Surprisingly, the water poured was completely collected in the window frame which was then seen oozing out of the defects in the wall which was damaged due to dampness. Upon deeper inspection, it was observed that groove cutting in the wall to fix the window frame was not sealed/finished off from the external side. Rainwater was getting collected in the frame which was subsequently seeping into the wall causing dampness.


  2. Another curious case was that of an apartment complex. The roof of the flats below the terrace were found to be leaking at various spots. Penetrating dampness was observed in the ceiling of the flats below the terrace. The client had done all the usual protection to the terrace slab like waterproofing, tiling with spacers, epoxy filling of tile joints and still could not prevent the leak. Finally, Nemmadi was called for an inspection. As usual, the terrace area was inspected for defects and did not find anything suspicious. Then, it was decided to check the tiles for hollowness. True to our suspicion, hollow tiles were observed in the terrace area of the flats which had leakage from ceiling. Thermal imaging revealed that there was a lot of moisture accumulation in the hollow spaces below the tiles. More detailed inspection revealed that the epoxy used for joint filling has separated from the tiles due to shrinkage and has minor cracks. This allowed for the water to seep in  and collect below the hollow spaces in the tiles. And some of the hollow tiles were so loose, when tapped with the mallet, the entire tile would shake/vibrate indicating that the workmanship was very poor.

 

Internal Dampness

  1. As briefed, internal dampness is from the wet areas inside the house like the bathroom, kitchen, floor traps, pipelines etc. One of the inspections where Nemmadi was involved had rising dampness in a bedroom wall which was not connected to an external source and there were no wet areas adjoining the wall. Upon considering multiple sources, it was observed that the floor tiles of one of the bedrooms were wet in the tile joints. This was confirmed using a moisture meter. Further inspection revealed that there was an attached bathroom and this bathroom, upon inspection, revealed multiple issues as under. 
    1. The side walls of the floor trap were deteriorated and very badly maintained.
    2. The slope in the bathroom was not correct for which a quick-and-dirty solution of making a channel for water to flow into the drain was done by cutting the tile and finishing-off with cement mortar. 
    3. Also, the wooden door frame was rotten above and below the floor level. Huge gaps were observed which collected lots of water. 
    4. Also, it was observed that the floor tiles epoxy grout had deteriorated with usage and the gaps were allowing water to seep into the tile bed. 

Since there were many points of water entry, the accumulation was so much that this water got subsequently transferred from the attached bathroom to the bedroom floor and then causing rising dampness in the wall under inspection. Case Solved!!!

  1. Another curious case of dampness was a very challenging inspection. In one of the apartments, a flat on the ground floor was leaking from the ceiling in the kitchen area, literally, with droplets of water. The flat above this had no issues upon inspection, and in fact, before our visit, the client had ripped off the entire kitchen tiles, pipes etc and checked for possible issues but to no-avail. To proceed further in our root cause analysis, in the first floor, it was decided to check the flat diagonally opposite to the ground floor flat under inspection. Adjoining the common wall between the two flats, it was found that there was a wet area in the utility where a washing machine was being used continuously. Upon detailed inspection, This utility area floor traps and tile joints were found to be deteriorated and gaps were observed. The water gushing from the washing machine outlet was flooding in the utility area and was entering through the crevices of the floor trap and tile joints. This was seeping through the common wall and accumulating in the tile bed and subsequently coming out of the crevices in the slab of the GF flat. Another case solved!!!
  2. In one more inspection where Nemmadi was involved, the structure had experienced damage to the walls due to growth of vegetation in the terrace and accumulation of debris. The roots of the plant were penetrating through the wall/slab in the terrace due to which rainwater was penetrating and causing dampness in the first floor and ground floor walls. Due to accumulated debris which holds lots of moisture, there was a continuous supply of moisture which subsequently was seeping through the crevices nearby. This, although pretty easy to identify, is very difficult to rectify. The rectification involves removing the vegetation & ensuring that it is removed from its roots, and then filling the gaps with sealant. The rectification sometimes involves huge cost, depending upon the extent of damage.

 

Although the problems like floor trap issues, tile joint issues, external cracks, rising dampness seems to be common defects, identification and rectification methods of these defects is the most challenging & important aspect of dampness inspection. This is where, we as Team Nemmadi have managed to identify and solve many difficult dampness problems and stand true to our name; We, from Nemmadi, truly want to give “Nemmadi” (Total Peace of Mind) to our customers. Nemmadi in Kannada means Peace of mind. So when dampness strikes, dial NEMMADI for peace of mind.

Author : Mr Shankar Narayanan, Sr Project Manager – QC

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