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.


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.