Damp Walls

Damp Walls In Your Home

gutters

I posted on my blog, in November last year, about damp walls that arise as a result not having gutters on your home to control the flow of rainwater off your roof.

On Saturday I inspected a four-year-old property that had a one tile overhang on the roof, no gutters but had paving surrounding the house.

However, the external walls of the house were in a desperate state because of the three most destructive mistakes architects, developers, builders and homeowners make!

As a result, I’m going to repeat part of the issues mentioned in my blog again!

Damp walls caused by no gutters

Gutters collect the rainwater runoff from the roof, discharging it into downpipes which conveys the rainwater away from the house in a controlled manner. In addition, they also protect the timber roof structure at the eaves of the house. Furthermore, gutters protect the exterior walls, windows and doors of the house and its foundation from damp and potential damage.

damp walls

The splashing up against the walls was the most serious cause of the penetrating damp on the walls of the house. Moreover, the crazing cracking (spiderweb-like fine cracking) in the plasterwork was the main indicator of the penetrating damp caused splashing up of rainwater. No cracking was observed higher up on the walls.

Even if your house has a reduced overhang at the eaves, gutters will still provide the required protection against heavy rain and wind storms your house may be subjected to.

Insufficient roof overhang at the eaves

Roofs with no gutters which have a two-tile overhang (600mm in the case of a metal roof) or less will allow water to pour from the roof close to the walls, windows and doors and the foundation.

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Section Title Schemes

Responsibilities of Owners and Body Corporates

Body corporates

I do a fair amount of inspections in sectional title schemes. Often, owners ask me if body corporates will pay for repairs inside their units. Obviously, their concern is about damage caused by external factors such as rainstorms, burst geysers and so on.

Each case is usually based on its merits. Usually, the body corporate’s trustees use their discretion when deciding to whom they allocate the cost of repairs and replacement. However, there are many grey areas and the differences between the owner’s and body corporate’s liability and responsibility.

The Body Corporate’s obligations

Body corporates are responsible for the repairs and maintenance and upkeep of the common properties.

Furthermore, the body corporate maintains all pipes, ducts, wiring etc. for the common property and services to more than one unit.

Your obligations as an owner of a section

You must maintain and keep in good state your section. Moreover, you must also keep any part of the common property to which you have the right neat and tidy. These are exclusive use areas such as gardens, patios, balconies, parking areas, garages etc.

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Plants Growing against Your House.

The Danger of Creeper Plants Growing Against Your House

Creeper Plants

A while back, I inspected a house in an older part of Johannesburg. From the road, the house was very pretty with an ivy creeper growing on the walls. However, having plants winding their way up your outside walls can cause actual damage to your house. Therefore, you should think twice before allowing creepers to grow on any wall in the first place.

In fact, the best advice is not to have any gardens within 1 metre of your home! Watering gardens against your home can cause uneven settlement of the foundation and cracks in your house.

The worst plants to plant against your house are destructive plants known as “self clingers”.

Self-clinging creepers

Self clinger creeper’s rootlets go into existing fine cracks and fissures, using them to enhance adhesion and occasionally penetrating the interiors of buildings through them. The mortar between bricks can be loosened through this activity and is often torn away from the wall when a creeper is removed. The same strong adhesion can result in chunks of plasterwork being pulled away, attached to the creeper vines.

In addition, on roof structures, creeper tendrils and rootlets can work their way under roof tiles and other roofing materials. Unless you remove the creeper maintenance, like painting and roof repairs, is impossible.

Moreover, any plants and shrubs with their foliage against your home may even dislodge gutters and roof tiles and can hold damaging moisture against wall surfaces causing moisture to penetrate into the wall and roof structure of your home.

Some articles and posts claim not all climbing plants bad for your house and some can provide “genuinely benefits”. However, the detrimental effect of having these climbers on your walls far outweigh any benefits they may have. Moreover, some climbing plants are very aggressive in the way they attach themselves to your walls and, if left unchecked, can cause serious structural problems.

Which creepers to avoid?

Ivy is a prime example. The sort of plants to avoid having grown up your wall are often the ones that have “suckers” or little mini branches like spikes, that burrow under the paint into the plastered walls and into the mortar joints of the face brick walls for a foothold.

Continue reading “Plants Growing against Your House.”

Damp In Freestanding Walls

Do Your Boundary Walls Look Like This?

damp in walls

This photo I took during a client’s comprehensive buyers inspection had rising damp, falling damp and penetrating damp. In addition, the white marks on the wall were caused by efflorescence.

Often the maintenance of the walls that are attached to or which do not form part of our houses is neglected. These are our boundary, garden and courtyard walls.

These walls are very important in that they protect our privacy and security and are our first line of defence against intruders. Unfortunately, we sometimes do not make enough effort to protect them!

The greatest enemy of these walls is damp which penetrates into the wall from below, above and from the sides of the walls.

Rising Damp

Rising damp occurs as a result of capillary action at and below ground level into porous masonry building materials. These material are mainly concrete, bricks and mortar. The moisture rises up the wall in this way. It usually occurs where there is no damp proof course (DPC). Freestanding walls such as boundary and garden walls do not normally have DPC built into the walls because it would make the wall unstable. A layer of DPC would break the bond between the wall and its foundation.

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High Water Bills

MY WATER BILL WENT WAY UP! HOW DO I FIND A LEAK?

leak

Your high water bill could be due to either a temporary increase in water usage or a leak. To find out if it’s a leak, first shut off all your water-using fixtures in the house.

Take the cover off your water meter box and flip open the protective cover plate on the meter dial. Normally, your metre box will be somewhere along the front property line, often near a corner. You may have to dig down a little in the dirt to find it.

The meter may be a newer one that has a small round or diamond-shaped low-flow indicator near the centre. The low flow indicator may be red or black like in the photo above. It should not be turning. But if it is, there’s a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. At a meter without a low-flow indicator, note the meter reading or take a picture with your cellphone. Check back in an hour or so and see if it has changed.

There are a number of places to check if the meter says you have water flow indicating a leak:

  • Leaking Taps

Not just the at the sinks. Also check the taps at the washing machine hookup, water heater, tub/shower, and the outside hose taps.

  • Leaking Toilet Cisterns (tanks)

A flapper valve that doesn’t seat properly at the bottom of the cistern will cause a leak. Check the ballcock arm and overflow tube as well, it may also be defective. Drop a dye tablet (available in most hardware stores specifically for toilet testing) in the tank. Do not flush, and wait for 15-minutes. If the colour shows up in the bowl, the toilet needs repair.

  • TPR Valve at the Geyser

The small valve with a flip-up handle at the top or side of the geyser called a Temperature and Pressure Release valve. This important valve is designed to open if the water gets too hot, to keep the tank from exploding. These valves sometimes fail by opening slightly and letting loose a slow trickle of hot water. The water normally runs in a steel or copper pipe to a location at the exterior wall. Find the termination of the TPR valve and check for a drip. NEVER work on these valves yourself! Only a suitably trained and experienced plumber should! Continue reading “High Water Bills”