What is penetrating damp?

Penetrating damp, sometimes known as “rain penetration”, occurs when excess water, usually from rain, infiltrates the external walls of a property and causes damage within. Penetrating damp can also occur when water penetrates roofs, windows, and doors at any level of a property.

Most penetrating damp cases can be traced back to a particular defect in the building’s construction or the age of fixtures and external furnishings. Many common types of seal lose their effectiveness as they age, allowing water and damp to seep through. Penetrating damp can rapidly devolve into a serious issue for property owners; it needs to be addressed promptly wherever it is found.

Penetrating damp is usually an indication that there are defects in a building’s construction or that it has started to deteriorate due to age. Over time, any part of a building can degenerate into a weak point if the structure isn’t properly cared for. Even bricks can spall over time if neglected. Eventually, they will let water through freely. The amount of rain and moisture bricks can keep out, and their resilience to ageing will depend on what they are made from. 

The signs of penetrating damp can be similar to other, more common damp types, making it challenging to diagnose penetrating damp in many cases. However, some of the tell-tale signs of a problem with penetrating damp include; damage to internal walls and decorations; blistering, salting, or disintegrating plaster; rotting skirting boards; localised dampness; and mould growth. Any signs of cracking or spalling on your external brickwork combined with the usual signs of damp can indicate a problem with penetrating damp. These common types of structural damage provide an easy route for rainwater to enter your property and cause damage to the interior.

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