concrete floor

How to Stop Damp on Concrete Floors

Concrete has been used in construction since Roman times, so presumably, they must have had similar problems with damp on concrete floors to today’s property owners.

Traditionally, the treatment for damp on concrete floors was to replace the whole floor. Fortunately, there are now easier and cheaper solutions.

All new properties have waterproofing solutions included in their designs and there are ever-improving treatments for the occasions there are issues. This should mean it becomes a more rare problem for property owners to deal with.

In this post, we will look at how to recognise if you have a damp problem on concrete floors and what can be done to resolve it.

Risk Factors and Signs of Damp on Concrete Floors

History: Damp-proof coursing did not become mandatory in new buildings until the Public Health Act of 1875. In the rush to meet the new legal requirements, the standard of the damp-proof coursing was initially poor, and so properties built around that time may still not have adequate protection. If you have an old property, you should check to see if any protection has been fitted retrospectively.

Evidence of water ingress: Water ingress includes signs of rising damp, evidence of water on the floor, and mould on the floor or walls, especially in basements or cellars.

Recent building work: Building work can damage existing damp-proofing systems.

Landscaping: any large-scale landscaping such as the removal of large trees which would have previously absorbed some of the water in the ground can increase the water content in the soil.

Flood risk: If the property is on a flood plain or where the water table levels are high, there is an increased risk of water rising above the protective layer of any existing waterproofing measures.

How Do Concrete Floors Get Damp?

Damp on concrete floors is most commonly seen at ground or below-ground levels. This has also made it traditionally more difficult to prevent and treat.

Concrete is a porous material and water travels through it in a capillary system in much the same way that water is absorbed from the ground by plants. This is important, as it is how water enters properties causing the problems of penetrating damp and rising damp.

How Is Damp on Concrete Floors Treated?

The treatment will depend on where the damage is, what the primary cause is, and how far it has spread.

An assessment should also check if there is any potential risk of future damage, such as dry or wet rot. A specialist damp-proofing and timber treatment company such as Danford Brewer and Ives Ltd can help advise you.

As with most property problems, the earlier it is assessed and treated, the cheaper and fewer indirect side effects there will be.

Treating Damp on Concrete Floors Above Ground Level

This is usually the easiest and cheapest damp concrete floor problem to resolve. As with any water ingress, it is important to find where the water is coming from and fix the problem. For example, this might mean fixing a leaking pipe. It is then normally just a case of taking any necessary steps to let the floor dry out.

Treating Damp on Concrete Floors at Ground Level

These problems are more complicated to resolve as the problem usually starts below ground with the moisture rising to the surface of the concrete and surrounding walls, hence the term, rising damp.

There are two main remedies:

  • Damp-proof coating: This is a liquid floor coating which is applied directly onto the concrete floor to seal it and prevent water from seeping in. It is usually an epoxy resin coating, as this is more hardwearing, but where there is going to be a floor covering on top of the concrete then a latex-based coating can be used. There are different products for different floor uses. To use these the floor must be clean, free from dust, and dry.
  • Damp-proof membrane: A damp-proof membrane has the advantage of being able to be applied to a damp concrete floor and walls. Like the liquid coating above, it provides a barrier to water entering the property. The membrane is a tough structural material and is often used as part of basement waterproofing solutions too. The process usually involves removing any existing floor coverings and skirting boards, laying a waterproof cavity membrane, which is normally up to 5mm thick, and then laying a floating floor on top, before refitting the skirting boards.

Basements and Cellars

Due to basements and cellars being below ground level, they are at increased risk of water ingress. This means that it is usually not just the floors that need protecting, but the walls as well.

There are different treatment and prevention options, and a waterproofing design specialist will advise you on what is best for your property.

The main types of waterproofing for new and existing basements and cellars are:

  • Tanking with slurry
  • Tanking with membranes
  • Type C waterproofing

Tanking with Slurry

This is a chemical coating that is applied to the internal masonry to provide a waterproof layer. This coating covers the walls as well as the floor.

Tanking with Membranes

In this treatment, waterproof membranes are attached to the floor and walls of basements and cellars to prevent water ingress.

The same membranes for ground-level work can be used here.

Type C Waterproofing

This system is rapidly becoming the most common remedy, as it is cheaper and quicker to install. It is also suitable for most basements and cellars.

The process protects the cellar or basement by providing a cavity drainage system to divert the water away from the property before it reaches the internal walls and floors.  Sump pumps are usually required to achieve this.

Damp on concrete floors will lead to serious problems associated with water ingress. If the problem is assessed early by specialists such as us at Danford Brewer and Ives Ltd, the appropriate treatments can be carried out with less expense and worry to the property owner.

To find out more about preventing damp on concrete floors or receive a quote for your project, contact Danford Brewer and Ives today by calling us directly at 01765 804050 to discuss your damp problem.


types of damp

What Is Water Ingress?

Water ingress is never good news for any homeowner, and it needs to be dealt with quickly to avoid expensive repairs in the future.

What Does the Term Water Ingress Mean?

Water ingress is the term used to describe any unwanted water that comes into a building.

When water enters a building from aboveground sources it is often called ‘penetrating damp’. It can occur anywhere within the property, including the roof.

‘Rising damp’ is the term used to describe water ingress that enters a building from ground level and travels upwards into the building, through porous building materials. Cellars and basements are key target areas.

What Can Cause Water Ingress?

The most common reasons for water ingress are building faults and defects. These can be due to the normal deterioration of building materials over time and the effects of the weather. Unfortunately, poor workmanship can also be a cause.

There are several ways that water ingress can occur:

  • Faulty plumbing – burst or slow leaking pipes
  • Windows – faulty flashing around the window frames
  • Roofs and chimneys – damaged or missing roof tiles or slates, or damaged flat roof protection, damaged flashing
  • Blocked or faulty gutters and downpipes
  • Walls – cracks in the render, damaged or missing mortar, blocked air bricks, damaged external pipework
  • Faulty or damaged damp proof course, no damp proof course (common in older buildings).
  • Flooding – there is a higher risk if you live in a flood plain

What Damage Can It Do?

Timber damage

Damp timbers can attract the fungi, which could lead to dry or wet rot if left untreated. These can be expensive to treat as well as causing structural damage.

Higher humidity levels can also increase the risk of attracting the beetles that cause woodworm infestations.

Masonry damage

Any cracks in the bricks, render, or mortar can let water in. This is made worse in freezing conditions.

Internal walls

Damp internal walls can cause mould and damage to plaster and paint.

Health

Damp and moulds are known to affect health by producing allergens, irritants, and toxins. The very young, old, those with poor immunity, existing respiratory and/or skin conditions are most at risk.

How Do I Know If I Have Water Ingress?

Building materials are porous making it easy for water to spread in the same expansive way that kitchen roll absorbs water.

The main warning signs that you should look for are:

  • Damp patches on internal walls
  • Damp patches on floors, especially in basements and cellars
  • Damp patches on external walls
  • Mould growth on walls and floors
  • Peeling paintwork and/or plasterwork
  • Hearing dripping sounds
  • Damp and musty smells

What Should I Do If I Think I Have Water Ingress?

The first step in dealing with water ingress is to prevent any further damage, such as using a bucket to catch drips.

The next step is to find the source of the water ingress. This may be difficult due to water absorption patterns or difficult-to-access places. You may be able to fix the problem yourself.

The treatment you need will depend on the source of the water ingress and any subsequent damage. There are several different treatments available and a damp proofing specialist will be able to advise you on the options.

How Can I Prevent Water Ingress?

The best ways to prevent water ingress in your property are:

  • Regular checks inside and outside the property for any signs of damage.
  • Check the render, mortar, and pointing for any damage, as they can often be damaged by bad weather.
  • Keep gutters, downpipes and drains clear from debris such as leaves.
  • Repair any damage as soon as possible, such as bathroom grouting.
  • Check your roof, chimney and window flashings for damage, especially after bad weather.
  • Keep your property well ventilated by opening windows or using positive air ventilation, and heating systems. These measures prevent an internal build-up of moisture.
  • Early intervention will reduce the risk of serious and expensive damage.

When Should I Contact a Damp Proofing and Timber Preservation Specialist?

There are no hard and fast rules on when you should seek specialist help for damp-related problems.

The guidance is that if you have a persistent problem with slow-moving condensation, signs of wood rot, or evidence of damp or mould on your ceilings, walls or floors, then you should call a damp proofing and timber preservation specialist such as here at Danford Brewer and Ives.

By getting professional advice and early intervention you should be able to avoid expensive damage and repair works.


woodworm infestation

How to Get Rid of Woodworm

Woodworm is the common term for wood-boring insects and the damage they do to timber.

The insects are different species of beetles and weevils, and they spend most of their life as larvae which is when they eat the wood and make the distinctive tunnels and holes associated with woodworm.

If left untreated, woodworm can cause extensive and structural damage to property. In most cases though, it is possible to get rid of woodworm and prevent new infestations before then.

What Are the Different Types of Woodworm Beetle?

In the UK there are five main types of woodworm insects:

  1. Common furniture beetle: likes all wood. They live for up to five years.

  2. Deathwatch beetle: likes old hardwood structural timbers (old stately homes) not newer softwood. They can live for up to ten years

  3. Woodboring weevils: they are found in wet timber and often in damp joist ends

  4. Powderpost beetles: they prefer oak, ash, mahogany and walnut woods.

  5. House longhorn beetle (found mainly in Surrey): they are known for causing severe internal damage to wooden structures

Woodworm life cycles follow similar patterns. The adult female will lay up to about 50 eggs in the small holes and cracks in dead wood. The larvae hatch and start their destructive stage. They will spend the next few years hidden from view eating the dead wood and creating their recognisable tunnel networks.

The average length of time for this period for most of the species is 2-5 years, although some can be much longer. Humidity levels within the wood can affect how long the larvae stage lasts.

When the larvae are ready to become adult beetles, they eat their way to the timber surface making the characteristic exit holes.

The new adult beetles will then leave the timber, often by flying, to look for mates before reproducing and laying their eggs in the wood. The beetles and weevils only live for a few days as adults.

This adult stage is usually in the warmer months from spring until autumn, and this is when you may see the beetles.

What Damage Can Woodworm Do?

The damage will depend on the type of woodworm present.

Some woodworm larvae will remain close to the surface of the timber whereas others will burrow deep into the wood leaving it weak, brittle, and structurally unsafe.

How Do I Spot Woodworm?

An active woodworm infestation is difficult to spot, as the larvae remain hidden in the wood until they are ready to become adults. You may see exit holes from where the woodworm left the timber to become adult beetles. ‘Frass’ is the fine dust left behind at the exit holes and is from the woodworm eating its way out of the timber.

The adult beetles are attracted to light and you may find dead beetles on windowsills. You may occasionally see tiny bundles of eggs in cracks, crevices and the entrances of old exit holes.

Can I Get Rid of Woodworm Myself?

You can buy products in DIY stores which you can apply yourself. These are aimed at treating self-contained and small infestations, such as on an old piece of furniture you plan to bring into your home, rather than wide-scale timberwork.

If you are treating woodworm yourself, it is important to check that you know which type of woodworm you have, as not all treatments will be effective in all cases. You should also follow the instructions exactly and protect yourself from the chemicals as advised.

How Can I Prevent Woodworm?

Regularly checking your property for signs of damp and treating any causes of water ingress quickly will also make your property less welcoming to woodworm.

Woodworm thrives in conditions where the timber humidity levels are above 14 per cent and so keeping them low is key. Modern-day heating and keeping your property well-ventilated help here.

Checking and treating any timber items before they are brought into your property will also help reduce the risk of a woodworm infestation.

Why Should I Get Expert Help?

If you suspect that you have woodworm, it is best to seek specialist help straight away.

The different woodworm species mean that there are a lot of variables which need to be considered. Different treatment types and methods are used depending on the woodworm species, the wood, location, and severity of the infestation.

The surveyors will also have to check to see if the infestation has spread, as well as the extent of any timber damage.

Each species of wood-boring insects prefer different timber species and types. Some will stay close to the timber surfaces whereas others will burrow deep into the wood causing severe damage to its structure and strength.

It may be that the infestation is no longer active but the damage to the wood will still have to be assessed for structural damage to the property.

How Do Specialists Treat Woodworm?

The first step is an extensive assessment by a specialist surveyor to find out if there are any active infestations, the type of woodworm, and the extent of any damage.

You will then be advised of the findings, proposed treatments and repairs for any water ingress, and damp-related issues such as dry rot. The aim is to treat any issues and prevent any future woodworm infestations.

The most common first-line treatment is a chemical spray, which kills the insects on contact. Gels and spreads can also be applied or injected to kill any deep-burrowing larvae.

The chemicals and methods used will depend on the type of woodworm, the timber affected and the extent of the damage. It may also be necessary to carry out wood repairs or replacement of some timbers.

If you have any questions or concerns, our team at Danford Brewer and Ives Ltd are happy to help. We can also carry out all aspects of woodworm prevention and treatment for you.

Contact Danford Brewer and Ives today to discuss any woodworm problems at your property.