Your Damp House Winter Checklist

Last winter in Adelaide it rained.  I mean it really rained.  The storms were quick and ferocious.   Now, our house has small leaks that we know about and thanks to lots of gum trees, gutters that overflow.  Its all pretty typical for an older house and a busy family with other priorities.  What do they say about builders that never get around to fixing their own home? Well, damp specialists never getting around to fixing their own damp house. 

But last winter something else happened that caused my husband and I to sit back and decide it was time to do something about it.     It was a particularly heavy rain event and we were having some friends over for dinner.  Their son came out of our toilet and complained that hot water had been falling on his head.   We both rushed to look and discovered that water was leaking from our roof through the ceiling light onto the floor.  We made the area safe at the time but decided that night it was time to waterproof our damp house.

 Luckily as damp specialists we knew where to start but we have prepared this checklist for you to check your home this winter and avoid any nasty surprises. 

WINTER MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST

  1. Clean out and check your gutters

gutter blocked with leavesNow that the autumn leaves have stopped falling it is time to check and clean out your gutters.   Empty them of leaves, mud and debris and hose clean where possible.

Cleaning your gutters means that rain can drain away easily and it won’t overflow as quickly.   This prevents water damage to your eaves, inside your roof or below on your pavers and foundations.

Check your gutters for rust spots, holes and breaks also and fix and/or replace if required.

  1. Check your down pipes

Whilst you are up on the ladder it is a great chance to check all your homes down pipes as well.    Are they connected properly?  Are there any holes or breaks?   Do they drain away to storm water at the base.

By ensuring that your down pipes are attached properly you prevent incidences of what is commonly called falling damp.  Continual moisture against your masonry from a leaking pipe can cause rising damp type symptoms such as salt stains, blistering paint, plaster and erosion of mortar.   In extreme cases you can also get mould.

Fix any issues if required – you may need to call a specialist for this.

  1. Check your roof

And finally, check your roof for any cracked, broken or missing roof tiles.   Ensure that the flashing is in place and that ridge tiles are secure and unbroken.

If you have any damp patches on your ceilings that could be a sign that you have a cracked tile, ridge or a leak somewhere in your roof.  It is worth at this point calling in a roof expert to thoroughly check over the area and determine where the leak is occurring.

  1. Check drainage around your home

Are there any areas that water pools up against your home?  Or do you find water seeping in during heavy rain?

If so now might be the time to improve the drainage around your home.  You may need to investigate installing a series of Ag drains to direct water away from the area of concern.

Do you have drains blocked with debris?    Clean them out to allow water to drain away easily.

  1. Rain Water Tank

Is your rain water tank securely attached?  Do you know where it overflows?   Does it flow down and away from your house?

Check all connections for your rain water tank.  Are they free of debris and in good working order and is the overflow working as it should.  If your tank is full it could be worth using some of that water now or draining some of the water in preparation for heavy rains.

  1. Prune your trees

It is worth pruning any branches that are dead or overhanging the house or power lines now.  Better to do it now than have heavy branches fall on your roof in the middle of a storm.

  1. Chimney

If you have a working chimney make sure it is cleaned out prior to winter. Every couple of years get it inspected by a professional to prevent safety issues and fire hazards.

These maintenance steps will obviously not protect you from a severe thunderstorm event or from flooding but it may help to prevent a damp house this year.      To help you take measures to protect your family and pets during severe storms then click on this link to the SES website for further information.  

Cost of Fixing Salt Damp

WHAT IS THE COST OF FIXING SALT DAMP?  

We understand that there is a lot of confusion and misinformation regarding the cost of fixing salt damp.   And whilst a free inspection and quote is helpful we get that you are researching firstly to determine if it’s within your budget.    Or maybe a building inspector has just alerted you to an issue in a house you are considering buying and you need to know what it will cost to fix.

Our aim with this article is to provide you with up-to-date honest and reliable information to help you budget for your project and understand the hidden costs involved.

Please remember that this is a guide only.  It is not a quote and prices will vary at your property. 

Firstly there a few things to consider:

  1. Is your problem definitely Salt Damp?
    It is worth reading our checklist first. Click here to read. Often the issue relates to another form of damp, condensation, mould or musty smells and so therefore these costs won’t apply.
  2. Will maintenance fix the Salt Damp?  Are there other tasks around the home that will fix the issue?  For e.g. Could you lower the pavers and expose the existing damp proof course?   Or could you improve the issue with increased drainage?
  1. Will you be removing these walls in the next 1 -3 years?
  2. And lastly how badly affected are the walls?  In some rare occasions it may be impossible to inject a wall for structural reasons and it will therefore need to be rebuilt first.

COST OF FIXING SALT DAMP?

Now let’s get down to the reason you are still reading… what is the cost of fixing Salt Damp?     Our advice relates to the injection of a waterproof cream barrier to the base of your walls to prevent the rise of moisture and salts.

The cost of injection does vary significantly from property to property and is dependent on things such as:

  • Thickness of walls

    Treatment with cream is done from one side of the wall only regardless of the situation.  The price increases as the thickness of the wall increases.  A single brick wall is charged a lot less than a double brick / double brick with cavity.
    Price Guide:
    Single Brick                                                                  $70 – $95 per lineal metre
    Double Brick/Block                                                    $85 – $105 per lineal metre

  • Fabric of the walls

    There are many types of masonry and each has its own issues.   Limestone is more porous and may have greater damage but bluestone is harder to drill into and requires more product.
    Price Guide:
    Brick:                                                                                as above
    Block:                                                                               as above
    Stone below 450mm thickness:                                 $120 – $150 per lineal metre
    Stone above 450mm thickness:                                 $150 – $200 per lineal metre

  • Damage to the wall

    Treatment only stops further moisture and salt from rising into the wall.    After the initial treatment  follow-up internal and external repairs are required.  e.g. removing and replacing damaged plastering, removing and replacing damaged render, replacing missing mortar or badly affected stones.   These costs should be considered in your overall budget and you should request a quotation for these at the time of inspection.  The amount you pay for these repairs will be determined by the client and is dependant on how far you wish to take the repairs.  Some people only wish to repair damaged areas others wish to restore the home fully.    Dependent on the damage too some tasks will take a couple of days others will take a few weeks.

  • Height of the problem

    Salt Damp normally does not rise any higher than 1 metre.   However, sometimes the issue has been left for a long time and the height of the problem has risen beyond what is considered normal.   The repairs of this could therefore cost more.

  • Number of metres
    You may find also the more metres you do the less it will cost.     Also a minimum charge to cover setup may apply.

ADDITIONAL COSTS:

As with any building project there are additional costs which may be relevant in your situation and these should therefore by factored in.   These can include (but are not limited to).  It is important to ask about these at the time of your onsite inspection.
– Removing and replacing power points, data points and telephone points.
– Removal , refitting and/or replacement of skirting boards and tiles
– Temporary relocation of air-conditioning unit
– Painting / flushing joints
– Generator Hire
– Rubble / Waste removal

There is a lot to consider yes.   But by using a fully licenced and trusted professional the fear and uncertainty regarding the treatment and repairs should be less.       An onsite inspection, fixed price quotation and discussion with professionals should give you all the information you need for your project.

Ready to get a quote? – click here to request a call to organise a time. 

Lateral Damp… Salt damp is not the only damp issue.

What is Lateral Damp?

Our homes are traditionally built to protect us from the elements and be watertight.   However damp issues are one of the most common maintenance complaints around a home.   Commonly we are able to advise our customers that their issue is not Salt damp but in fact Lateral damp.

Lateral damp or penetrating damp is the result of the passage of water through a wall in a horizontal direction.    In South Australia most properties are built with brick or stone.   This masonry is very porous in nature.   If these walls become exposed to excess water the masonry will absorb the water into the wall.  This process is similar to that of putting a sponge in a bowl of water.

Many times the water also carries soluble salts.  The water and salts eventually move through the wall and evaporate onto the surface side on the opposite side.    A moisture stain appears and salts are deposited on the surface.   Signs to look for include staining, blistering paint, drummy plaster, salty deposits and efflorescence.

Unlike rising damp, lateral damp can occur at any height on a wall and will occur even where a suitable damp proof course is in place.

There are many issues which can result in your home suffering from lateral damp damage. Before fixing the issue you will need to identify the source of the moisture.  Please note that the remedies below are suggestions only. We always recommend that you consult with a damp specialist for correct diagnosis first.

Some common examples we encounter include:

Garden Bed has been built directly against the house wall.   No issue outside but the customer notices that the paint is bubbling in the room on the inside.
This is common.  Many homes have garden beds placed against an outside wall.   This causes an issue as it covers (bridges) the existing damp proof course but it also allows the passage of moisture from the soil directly to the wall surface.  Constant watering of the plants in this garden bed only makes the issue worse.
REMEDY:   If possible remove the garden bed so that soil is not directly against your wall. 

Plaster has begun to bubble in hallway or bedroom.   Occurs quickly over a short space of time.   A wet area is on the other side of the wall.  
In this situation the problem is often due a leak from the wet area.  It can be as serious as a pipe leak, or tap washers dripping.  In other cases it can be due to minor cracks in the tiles and grout allowing water to pass through into the wall.

REMEDY: Get a plumber in to pressure test your pipes, check for leaking bridging pieces or perhaps additional waterproofing or sealant requirements for your bathroom.

Salt Attack, Efflorescence and moisture stain on retaining, backfilled or cellar walls.
This often occurs when the waterproofing membrane is either missing or has broken down behind the wall.  Without the membrane ground water and salts are able to pass easily into the porous masonry wall.
REMEDY: Ensure there is no moisture sources leaking into the backfill (subfloor draining issues, leaking downpipes etc.). The best solution in this instance is to remove the backfill and place a waterproof membrane between the backfill and the wall. However, in most cases this is not possible and the wall surface will need to be dealt with as a regular maintenance issue e.g. cleaning off salts, poulticing to remove salts and inside sacrificial plastering.

Sprinkler systems; excessive moisture penetration on one section of wall from constant water.
This causes an issue as large amounts of water constantly hit the same area of the building over long periods of time.    Especially during summer when we all water more often.

REMEDY: Whilst your system is running check the perimeter of each of the sprays and adjust if any are consistently spraying directly onto your walls.

Leaking downpipes, a leaking air-conditioning system, a leaking hot water system; again excessive moisture penetration on one section of wall from constant water.

REMEDY: Home maintenance to check the perimeter of your home and then consult with roofing, guttering or hot water service specialists. Fix the issue asap.   

NOTE: 

Once the problem has been accurately diagnosed and rectified please allow a minimum of an additional 3 months before carrying out any repairs to the aesthetic damage.  For further information or assistance please contact us.