Dampness in Buildings – Sources, Prevention & Causes – Part 2

Dampness Prevention Methods

Part 1 spoke of causes and the accompanying problems.


Part 2 speaks of preventive methods

Waterproofing Methods:

Waterproofing can be done in several ways, five of which are explained here:


  1. Membrane Damp Proofing


This consists in providing layers of membrane of water repellent material between the source of dampness and the part of the structure adjacent to it. This type of layer is commonly known as damp proof course (DPC) and it may comprise of materials like bituminous felts, mastic, asphalt, plastic or polythene sheets, cement concrete, etc.

Depending upon the source of dampness, DPC may be provided horizontally or vertically in floors, walls, etc. Provision of DPC in basement is normally termed as tanking.


General principles observed while laying damp proof course are:

  1. The DPC should cover full thickness of walls.
  2. The mortar bed upon which the DPC is to be laid should be made level, even and free from projections. Uneven base is likely to cause damage to DPC.
  3. When a horizontal DPC is to be continued up a vertical face a cement concrete fillet 75mm in radius should be provided at the junction prior to the treatment.
  4. Each DPC should be placed in correct relation to other DPC so as to ensure complete and continuous barrier to the passage of water from floors, walls or roof.


  1. Integral Damp Proofing

This consists in adding certain water proofing compounds with the concrete mix to increase its impermeability. Such compounds are available in market in powdered as well as in liquid forms.

The compounds made from clay, sand or lime (chalk, fuller’s earth, etc) help to fill the voids in concrete and make it waterproof.

Another form of compounds like alkaline silicates, aluminium sulfate, calcium chlorides, etc react chemically when mixed with concrete to produce water proof concrete.

The quantity of water proofing compounds to be added to cement depends upon manufacturers’ recommendations.

In general, one kg of water proofing compound is added with one bag of cement to render the mortar or concrete waterproof.


  1. Surface Treatment


Dampness is caused by moisture which finds its way through the pores of materials used in finishing. In order to check the entry of the moisture into the pores, they must be filled up.

Surface treatment consists in filling up the pores of the surfaces subjected to dampness. The use of water repellent metallic soaps such as calcium and aluminium oleates and stearates is very much effective in protecting the building against the ravages of heavy rain. Bituminous solution, cement coating, transparent coatings, paints, varnishes fall under this category.

In addition to other surface treatment given to walls, the one economically used is lime cement plaster. The walls plastered with cement, lime and sand in proportion of 1:3:6 is found to serve the purpose of effectively preventing dampness in wall due to rain.


  1. Guniting


This consists in depositing an impervious layer of rich cement mortar over the surface to be waterproofed. The operation is carried out by use of a machine known as cement gun.

The assembly broadly consists of a machine having arrangements for mixing materials and a compressor for forcing the mixture under pressure through a 50mm diameter flexible hose pipe. The hose pipe has nozzle at its free end to which water is supplied under pressure through a separate connection.

The surface to be treated is first thoroughly cleaned of dirt, dust, grease or loose particles and wetted properly. Cement and sand (or fine aggregates) usually taken in proportion of 1:3 to 1:4 are then fed into the machine. This mixture is finally shot on the prepared surface under a pressure of 2 to 3 kg per square cm by holding the nozzle of the cement gun at the distance of 75 to 90 cm from the working surface.

The quantity of water in the mix can be controlled by means of regulating valve provided in the water supply hose attachment. Since the material is applied under pressure, it ensures dense compaction and better adhesion of the rich cement mortar and hence treated surface becomes waterproof.


  1. Cavity Wall Construction


This consists in shielding the main wall of the building by an outer skin wall leaving a cavity in between the two. The cavity prevents the moisture from traveling from the outer to the inner wall.