When pipes, roofs and gutters leak, we often get what is called ‘falling dampness’. The good thing about having this type of dampness is that it is a lot easier to treat compared to rising damp because all you have to do is repair the pipes, roofs and gutters or whatever is causing the problem. Here are some tips for treating falling dampness:
• Examine water pipes, stormwater pipes, roofs, gutters and downpipes to reveal sources of leaks. These can all leak water into roofs, down walls and also into the ground which will also increase the chance of rising damp.
• Patch minor guttering problems with bituminous tape or similar.
• If you have water pipe problems or other persistent problems, read our factsheet on roofing and guttering or you may need to contact a licensed plumber for major repairs.
• Water from leaking roofs or condensation on the underside of roof sheeting can travel for some distance before it finally appears within the house as falling dampness making it difficult to determine the precise source of the problem. Tracing the origin of white salts on the underside of the sheets or tiles may produce the answer. Replacing the roof sheeting or tiles, patching partly defective surfaces or reducing condensation where possible are the best solutions.
• In houses built without eaves, with the gutter fascia often in direct contact with the wall, the slightest irregularity in gutter placement or blocked or damaged gutters may result in water overflowing directly down the wall, increasing the likelihood of water penetrating behind loose render.
• When installing rain water tanks and air conditioning units, take special care with where you locate it and ensure you have the correct plumbing connections.
When treating falling dampness, remember that as well as leaking water in itself causing damage, it also often soaks into the ground and becomes part of any rising damp problems as it makes its way back up to the surface. For this reason, it’s imperative that you fix any leaks and drips as soon as you notice them.