Water ingress sounds like something you don’t want to hear about in connection with your home. However, in a country where rainfall is part and parcel of daily life, this seeping in of water through your brickwork is pretty common. In fact, you can trust a country like the UK to build expert knowledge – and develop solutions – when it comes to water ingress through brickwork.
Brick, like stone, is porous. This in itself shouldn’t pose a problem, as the brick can dry once rainfall has ended. But what if you live in a coastal zone with one facade of your house oriented towards the raging elements? What if your home, just like every sixth UK property, was built on a flood risk area?
Speaking of coastal check out these seashell craft ideas.
Then the regulations providing for flashing and/or air space between an outer and inner wall will come short of expectations… and you’ll need a stronger fix.
How To Stop Water Ingress Through Brickwork
The importance of addressing the root cause
How is the water damaging your brick wall? Is it lashing from the West so often that your brickwork doesn’t get a chance to dry? Is it seeping in through the bottom of the walls from the wetland? Could the source of your water ingress problem come from your cellar or a room below ground? Is there a crack in one of your gutter pipes?
Let’s see how to address each of these issues, as treating water ingress through brickwork can do more harm than good if diagnosed wrong.
Whatever you do, it’s wise to steer clear of any solutions that will permanently seal the air cavities inside your wall. Your brickwork’s balance depends on it, as does a healthy home.
Sealing off your walls will trap any condensation you emit through daily activities – think steam from the bathroom and kitchen when cooking or putting the kettle on. Condensation is not your friend, as it can seriously damage your interior walls and fittings.
A second reason for this is that air acts as a buffer against heat loss from your home. Bar the air cavities in the brick and your home will become cooler. This, together with a condensation problem, quickly turns into mould and the serious health hazards that go along with it.
Thankfully, there are viable options for you to tackle water ingress coming through your brickwork. Water molecules are bigger than air molecules so it’s possible to prevent water coming into the brick wall by using a breathable render that can let the air circulate inside the brickwork.
This is recommended when heavy rainfalls overwhelm your facade. Be mindful that all renders are not necessarily a good choice. Pick an external render that is silicone-based so the air can keep circulating through your wall, in between two rain showers that is. The silicone derivatives silane or siloxane are what you want to see on the tin.
Check it out for yourself, as some impermeable water-proofers are marketed as breathable.
You can apply the damp proofing layer just like you would when painting, that is using a brush or roller.
Make sure you work on a clean, dry surface that can remain dry for a few days. The result will be transparent, letting your lovely brickwork shine through. Moss-free and all.
Having a damp proof course (DPC) fitted
The best way to protect your home when the soil is saturated with water is to have a damp-proof course installed. A silicone solution can be inserted into the mortar interstices at specific intervals, close to ground level. Once injected, the silicone preparation will expand into the layer of mortar, forming a waterproof sheeting inside your wall. This prevents the water-laden soil from applying pressure on your walls and working its way into your wall, from the bottom up.
This rising damp issue can be avoided altogether at the construction stage of a new house, when a damp-proof course is laid down in the form of a solid sheeting.
When it comes to walls below ground level, you should look for a waterproof render to seal off the underground space. This will keep any water pressure in the ground from getting into your room. Cementitious tanking, also known as slurry tanking, is the remedy you are looking for in this case.
Chimney flaunching or pointing
If old, your chimney flaunching, or slanted mortar base around your chimney, may need de-weeding. Indeed, any greenery on that surface will trap water, amassing it and causing slow, steady dripping on the brick layer beneath it. Operational flaunching, on the other hand, leads rain water down its side and onto your roof the way it should.
Talking about roofing, it’s a good idea to check your tiles are in good standing. Any faults there can lead to water coming into your home through the roof and nesting its way on to the walls below.
What about brickwork?
We got this far without mentioning the insidious way water ingress can get through your brickwork. And that is not the brick itself, but the mortar that binds the whole structure. Even the best mix of mortar can be subject to alterations over time, allowing it to loosen.
Air pockets in mortar, just like in the brickwork, is fine. But cracks will let water through and can cause issues around specific areas of your wall. One weak spot for this to happen is around your chimney, which more so than any other part of your exterior walls is exposed to strong winds and rain.
This is also a good place to look for when assessing your property for water ingress damage. All you may need is chimney pointing, in other words clearing debris of weakened mortar and ‘pointing in’ a fresh mix.
Some people leave planters next to walls or in corners adjoining two walls and all of that excess water can seep into the brickwork. Check out these DIY planter ideas.
Whatever work needs to be booked, it’s going to be a job for the professionals.
Just like it works for us humans, oxygen is essential to a house’s good standing. Who thought something as simple as using adapted solutions to let the air circulate through them could prevent disastrous scenarios like a damp, mouldy living room? On top of a tailor-made damp-proofing system, let’s drive that point home by adding that airing your home for a good half hour a day keeps water ingress at bay. Over to you, then.