By Richard Walker, National Technical and Development Manager at Peter Cox.
Last year, the UK and the rest of Europe received a visit from the so-called ‘Beast from the East,’ a slew of chilly winds and freezing temperatures that caused heavy build-ups of snow and ice. According to the Met Office, these conditions are going to make a return and many places across the country have already seen ice and snow.
While we can wrap up in a coat, hat and gloves, buildings face the elements without additional protection. The winter weather has a habit of exacerbating many property issues, and so it’s important that facilities managers and those responsible for the upkeep of commercial properties check their premises regularly for water damage.
For example, heavy snowfall may slowly melt and resulting water enter the building through cracks or holes in the roof, and if drains and gutters are not clear of leaves, moss, or other debris then water won’t be able to quickly escape. It’s also advisable you check your pointing and rendering is all in place, as water can enter a building if it is loose or damaged.
How to identify damp ingress and treat water damage to walls
Are your walls damp, stained, contain deposits of salts or do the decorations feel chalky or flaky? Have you spotted a water stain on a ceiling? If so, then it’s likely there is an ingress of water and that your building needs additional damp proofing.
Checking for and repairing defective pointing, masonry and rainwater systems is the first line of defence. If the masonry is porous then fitting a Cavity Drain Membrane is a great solution against water ingress, designed to control both damp and water vapour above ground and the penetration of below ground water. Firstly, the system controls vapours, secondly it equalises damp pressure and thirdly the system acts as a drained cavity system, controlling water ingress.
Cavity drainage systems work on the principal that any water entering on the “wet” side of the system is either drained away to a sump chamber and pumped to a drainage point when the wall extends below ground level or where local conditions allow, by natural drainage.
Even if the walls are not visibly allowing water to enter the property, a porous stone or block wall can still allow water vapour to pass through, especially in older buildings. A dry lining created by Cavity Drain Membrane will avoid the decorations becoming damaged and yet still allow the wall to breathe.
Surveyors may also recommend the application of external waterproof creams which create a water repellent barrier preventing any moisture moving laterally through the masonry capillaries. One of Peter Cox’s solutions, DryWall Thermotek, repels rain penetration and is scientifically proven to reduce heat loss in single skin masonry – with an energy savings of up to 29% on solid walls. Solutions like these will go a long way in helping the government reach its target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions from buildings by 2050.
Threats to the building’s structure
Snow and ice can also cause damage directly to a building’s exterior. If water soaks into masonry and is then followed by a cold snap, it may turn to ice, which will expand and could lead to the masonry becoming ‘spalled’ and the face delaminating. The application of Thermotek repels rainwater and keeps it dry and in turn retains the original thermal values of the wall and the occupants much warmer. It is also ‘micro-porous, which means the wall can breathe and therefore does not trap harmful water vapour (condensation) inside the property.
Getting the right help this winter
The longer any repairs against water ingress are ignored, the greater the risk to you and your property. Routine inspections of the property can help nip structural damage in the bud. If you’re unsure of what to look for, call in the experts. Peter Cox offers a number of damp proofing and structural repair solutions that are cost-effective, clean and non-intrusive, with a range of techniques to solve problems tailored appropriately to different types of property.
Contact the team on 0808 273 2138 or complete our online contact form to find out how we can help.