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Know-How about the water ingress causes and prevention

Water ingress is a serious issue. It occurs when water infiltrates a property. This term can also be used to describe the penetrating damp that can permeate some properties. A leak is a primary source through which water can seep into your building structure, causing damage. Water ingress is when water from outside makes its way into a building. It can occur in properties in several different ways and for many different reasons. Some water ingress is referred to as penetrating damp – this is because the water penetrates through the walls to make its way into the building structure.


What causes water ingress?

Water ingress normally occurs due to some sort of defect in the building structure allowing water to penetrate the property and, unsurprisingly, can lead to a host of damp related problems Dome of the major causes are-

  • Damaged Walls – Deterioration over time can result in brickwork, rendering and mortar becoming porous and allowing water to ingress through the wall.
  • Leaking or defective drainage or plumbing – Defective, blocked or cracked guttering and downpipes along with faulty internal plumbing are frequently the cause of water ingress and penetrating damp.
  • Roof damage – Inspection of the roof may be necessary to identify missing or broken slates or tiles, while flashing around the chimney will have to be carefully investigated to determine whether it is faulty or not.
  • Ingress into the basement – If you have a basement, or if the external ground level has been raised and you have inadequate waterproofing, then you may find water ingressing into the building

Causes for Water ingress above ground

  • Any damaged or deteriorating mortar can lead to water ingress through the render. Any cracks in the brickwork or substrate will also allow water to get in. This can occur for several reasons including more serious structural issues.
  • Any damaged or deteriorating mortar can lead to water ingress through the render. Any cracks in the brickwork or substrate will also allow water to get in. This can occur for many reasons including more serious structural issues.
  • In lack of impermeable insulation in the wall cavity, the moisture held in the cavity wall insulation will gradually travel to the inside wall pushing dampness through the plaster coat, paint or wallpaper.
  • Penetrating damp occurs on external walls where the external ground levels are higher than the internal floors or there is an incorrect fall away from the building. The consequence is that the rainwater cannot efficiently run away from the walls, causing dampness to seep through.
  • Often, condensation occurs at low levels where the surface of the wall is coolest, starting in a corner and then spreading along the length of the wall.
  • Sometimes the slow destruction of rising damp can go on undetected for a long time before signs become evident by a deterioration of stumps, footings and building bricks. It may often go on unnoticed for years because of constant, but low levels of moisture absorbed from the moisture in the soil and the surrounding ground by capillary action.
  • The presence of mould detected by a musty smell may also be one of the first signs of rising damp that you notice. The wet areas are affected by rising damp, typically behind skirting boards.
  • The foam concrete/filling of sunken slab once saturated by leakages from sewerage or water pipes and fittings transmits capillary action as in DPC leading to wet patches outside bathrooms, urinals etc.
  • The high groundwater table is one of the common issues in India. Similarly, cracks in the walls allow water to ingress from the terrace and external walls and cause dampness. The extreme weather conditions give rise to cracks.

Water ingress below ground

  • Water leaking into the basement after heavy rain is a common occurrence. Water always finds a way, so basement waterproofing and adequate drainage are especially needed in cases where groundwater is likely to build up in soil and cause a rise in the water table closer to the surface.
  • In warmer weather, we often open our basement windows to help ventilate the space. However, when we let humid, outside air into our cool basements, it can condense on the walls and floors.
  • Water leaks can come from numerous places: a shower, a sink, a toilet, a washing machine, a dishwasher, a bad pipe, just to name a few. Sometimes, if the moisture in your basement is located on the ceiling or walls beneath a bathroom or kitchen, an interior water leak is to blame. Find where the moisture is located and determine if something in that area is leaking.
  • Rain or groundwater often makes its way into basements due to poor grading. The ground around your foundation should slope away from the house, not towards it. If draining in the wrong direction, water will accumulate against your foundation and eventually make its way inside.
  • The purpose of gutters and downspouts is to direct rainwater away from the foundation of your home. If those gutters and downspouts are missing, or not functioning properly, rainwater is often directed towards your foundation. As water drains toward your house, it can accumulate in the soil around it. If water accumulates around your foundation, chances are, it will make its way inside into your basement.
  • If you have cracks in your foundation, you can be sure that water will find them and make its way into your basement. In fact, sometimes the water is even the cause of the cracks themselves. If floor joists are not properly connected to the foundation walls, it can allow the walls to move, and in turn, cracks are formed. Water can actually cause cracks in the foundation as well due to poor drainage in the soil.
  • Many building structures do not have a subsurface drainage system. Basements in older homes often were not intended to be habitable spaces, thus an under-the-floor drainage system wasn’t necessary. More modern homes that do have a drainage system often experience problems with their system. This can range from a clogged pipe, broken connection, or a broken sump pump.
  • Below ground condensation occurs when warm, moist air comes in contact with your cool basement walls and floor. As the walls cool the warm air, moisture is created, just like condensation on a cold beer on a hot summer day.

How do I identify if I have water ingress?

Water Ingress Testing

Water Ingress Protection testing, or IP testing, tests a product’s ability to protect against “ingress,” that is, the infiltration of water, dust and foreign objects.

The IP Code, or Ingress Protection Code, IEC standard 60529, sometimes interpreted as International Protection Code, classifies and rates the degree of protection provided by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures against intrusion, dust, accidental contact, and water. It is published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The equivalent European standard is EN 60529.

Water ingress – Going beyond building structure and affecting health

The main effect of water ingress arises in the form of moulds and damps, causing catastrophic health issues.

  • Moulds produce allergens (substances that can cause an allergic reaction), irritants and, sometimes, toxic substances.
  • Inhaling or touching mould spores may cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Moulds can also cause asthma attacks.
  • Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation.
  • Toxic black mould. Stachybotrys, or toxic black mould, is harmful in the home because it produces mycotoxins.

Sources of water ingress

  • Roofs

Prevention of water ingress

Firstly to treat water ingress, you need to take the following things in mind.

  1. Uncover the root cause of the water ingress and solve the issue.
  2. Allow the areas affected to thoroughly dry out.
  3. Carry out repairs.

Then comes product selection. The use of the right concrete additives, or admixtures, within the concrete will ensure that it is innately resistant to water penetration. Admixtures can change the chemical makeup of concrete to decrease the size of the pores within the material at a microscopic level, impacting capillary action. On placing, compaction, and curing, the concrete will benefit from reduced water permeability, penetration and absorption as well as reduced air permeability. A lot of products have been developed and modified during the last few decades and a big advancement has been witnessed. Available products include interior sealants, interior water drainage products, backwater valve, foundation crack injections, waterproof seal, polymer Modified Bitumen Coating, EPDM waterproofing membrane, cementitious coating, New Build Reinforced Concrete and many more.

Take expert advice as it is necessary as the need for micro and macro water ingress identification requires experience.



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