What is a Damp Proof Course? Everything you need to Know

Are you worried about damp issues in your property? Struggling to find the right solution to your concerns? Well this article and its links may allow you to understand more about your damp issues and how best to approach the treatment process.

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What is a DPC?


Buildings and properties of all types experience damp related issues, which can have several origins and a varying extent of severity, however one of the most common and concerning issues is known as rising damp. This refers to the movement of moisture upward through building elements (the walls). This occurs because the moisture has its origin at low, ground level, and is allowed to rise up where there is porous or permeable material that permits the transfer of this moisture.

This may be seen through visible salt deposition in areas of the walls which can then deteriorate and become stained, which can weaken surfaces, and although this is mostly a visual sign, there is a wide range of more concerning impacts this moisture could be having deeper down, for example causing wood rot, weakening structural stability of building elements. Therefore, these issues are something that ought to be proactively managed, hence the need to understand what a Damp-Proof Course is and why it is so important.

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Damp Injection
Damp Proof Membrane

Damp proof course:

The DPC (Damp-proof Course) has formed a part of construction methodology since the Victorian Era and continues to be essential in buildings to protect against damp-related issues. The DPC is a barrier built into the walls of a building to prevent the rise of damp through the walls, thus minimising the spreading of rising damp, which draws moisture up through the building’s fabric.

The function of a DPC is essential to ensure the property is protected against potential damp and moisture issues, such as rising damp, causing visible staining to surface, reducing air quality in the environment, leading to mould, and even potentially becoming a concern to structural integrity. Other issues may be rotting of elements such as woodwork. 

If you are concerned about rising damp issues in your property and would like to have this assessed with a damp survey, then please Contact Us.

Many historically build homes may not have been constructed with effective damp-proof resistance capabilities, or these systems of resistance may have simply suffered wear and tear and would thus be far less effective now than they once were. However, the construction of new buildings is covered by regulatory measures imposing that they must include a DPC that meets a defined standard – which clearly highlights the importance of this element within buildings. 

This means it is within the best interest of all homeowners, buyers/sellers, or building occupants to ensure they have a sufficient DPC. 

DPC’s take numerous forms, for example, Damp-Proof Injections and Damp-proof Membranes. These are covered in a little more detail below…

Damp proof Injections:

This is the most common approach to remedial dam-proofing works, largely due to its affordability relative to alternatives, and its lack of intrusiveness to the existing building elements. 

The process involves holes being drilled into the walls of the damaged area, following which a damp-proofing ‘cream’ is injected. This prevents damp by forming a water repellent barrier, thus stopping the damp from spreading through the otherwise very porous material.  

This method is very effective where the original DPC has deteriorated and can be carried out effectively on a variety of property types.  

The process of injecting a wall begins with preparation of the surfaces in need of treatment, for example with the removal of the infected plaster area. Following this roughly 12mm diameter holes will be drilled into the wall, in intervals of 10-15 cm laterally. This then permits the area to be injected with the appropriate ‘cream’, which as mentioned above provides an impermeable barrier to prevent worsening of the issues. 

This injection approach is beneficial as it is relatively easy and low risk to install, keeps the mess and spillage to a minimum, all whilst providing a cost-effective means to treat damp. Not to mention there is significant research to support the use of these injected products to stop rising damp.

what is a damp proof course

Damp Proof Membranes:

This approach has the same function – to stop the capillary action which permits the damp to transfer through the walls, however this method involves installation of a membrane (sheet-like material) to the walls to stop moisture transfer. Therefore, as one could imagine, the installation of a new membrane, or replacement of the existing one is a more extensive task to be completed than the injection-based approach.