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The Difference Between Waterproofing and Damp Proofing

14 June 2022

Every homeowner is going to one day have a question about property care that they need answering; many get confused understanding the difference between damp and mould, some don’t fully grasp the different types of damp that can affect a home, and some people don’t fully understand how damp proofing and waterproofing are different.

That’s ok – this article has being written as a guide to help you understand what the primary differences are between waterproofing and damp proofing, and which might be right for you in case you need either service.

What Are the Main Differences Between Damp Proofing and Waterproofing?

When it comes to waterproofing and damp proofing a property there are a few main differences that you need to be aware of.

The first is one of the main ones, and that concerns the pressure behind the water appearing in your property. If you find that the moisture entering your property is influenced by hydrostatic pressure then it’s a dead certainty that you are going to need a waterproofing expert to survey and treat your property for waterproofing against leaks.

However, if you find that the moisture in your property is there thanks to capillary action, condensation, or even just through a fault in the property itself (like clogged guttering) then you are probably in need of damp proofing.

This is because damp proofing measures have no need to withstand the hydrostatic pressure that often accompanies a leak, leading to a flood. Think of it this way; if you have a below ground structure within your property (like a basement), and there is a natural flow of water (either above or below ground) downhill that comes into contact with your basement’s walls, its more than likely that same water is going to penetrate your basements walls and leak into the property.

A damp proofing measure (like a damp proof course for example) is going to be no good here. It will do nothing to stop the water entering the walls, and the leak will continue to grow and fill your basement as long as it goes untreated.

What Is Waterproofing?

Two waterproofing experts working

Waterproofing is the process of protecting your property from water that is likely to penetrate your property from the outside, normally moisture that is going to be propelled by some kind of hydrostatic pressure. Here at Timberwise we specialise in the protection of below ground structures with dedicated basement waterproofing.

This covers things like flood water, running water, water that collects in the soil surrounding a basement and naturally flows through the soil until it comes into contact with your basement.

Basically, a below-ground waterproofing system is a moisture control solution for your property that is also capable of withstanding hydrostatic pressure.

This can be applied in three different ways, as regulated by BS8102:2022, the British Standard for belowground waterproofing.

The first method, known as Type A Waterproofing (or tanking) is quite literally a waterproof solution sprayed or applied to the exterior or exterior of a property that stops moisture travelling through entirely. This means no water will penetrate and makes its way into the property, but it could lead to that same moisture and pressure being directed somewhere else on the property that didn’t previously have a moisture control problem.

There is also Type B Waterproofing, which involves the use of waterproof materials in the actual construction of the property itself. Chances are if you own a property this option is off the table, as it is the building materials themselves that keep potential water ingress at bay.

Then you have Type C Waterproofing. Known as a cavity drainage system, this is a form of waterproofing that doesn’t stop water from entering your property, but instead collects it before it reaches the interior of the property within what’s known as a cavity drainage membrane. The collected liquid is then channelled to a sump pump, which pumps the water away from the property.

A cavity membrane wall

Whilst all of these are working and proven methods of waterproofing a basement, they are all totally ineffective when it comes to protection from rising damp, or even from the build up of condensation.

What is Damp Proofing?

A DPC Course being installed

Damp proofing is different to waterproofing in that most damp proofing is designed to stop pressure free moisture from entering your property.

The main form of damp proofing we can reference here is a damp proof course. A damp proof course, or DPC, is a preventative measure usually injected into a properties walls to stop rising damp from spreading upwards into a property and causing damage, dry rot, wet rot, or black mould from setting in.

Rising damp occurs when moisture in the ground enters a properties brickwork and travels upwards through a process known as capillary action. The damp proof course sits about 150mm above the ground, drilled and injected directly into the brickwork.

If installed correctly, the DPC will stop rising damp from occurring, spreading, or even from continuing an existing affliction. However, that damp proof course will do very little to prevent a flood or a leak.

What rising damp can look like

This is the key difference between damp proofing and waterproofing. Whilst waterproofing might protect from various types of water ingress, damp proofing is usually a solution specified for a certain problem.

What’s Right for You?

Depending on the problem in your property you may only need one of the solutions presented in this article. It all hinges on whether you feel that you can properly spot a case of damp within your property, or if you feel comfortable in identifying a leak when you see one.

If you do believe that damp is the primary cause of moisture in your properties walls, floors, or other assets, then damp proofing or alleviation is the way to go.

If you believe that a leak, or consistent water ingress is the reason your property is suffering from damp walls, then you need to look into waterproofing solutions.

However, it is important to remember that sometimes these two factors are going to be linked.

In a basement for example you many find that a leak through your properties brickwork has caused what is known as penetrating damp to set in within the walls, in which case you might need to employ both waterproofing as well as some damp alleviation methods to fully dry out your basement and keep the room in good condition.

This can be a lot of information to take in and understand – and for many trying to tell apart the difference between what is a leak and what is damp it’s easy to get confused. If you are struggling to tell what will solve your moisture ingress problems, then arrange a survey with one of our trained experts.

Our team are well qualified in identifying the cause of damp within a building, as well as suggesting a potential solution to make sure it doesn’t appear again. If you are the victim of damp, damp proofing methods and alleviation can be suggested, and if the source of the moisture in your property is a leak then steps can be taken to make sure that your property is protected with secure waterproofing solutions.

Just call 0800 288 8660, or get in touch with us online here to arrange a survey.