Friday, 10 April 2015

Protect your house from water

 Protect your house from water

Water is one of the greatest enemies of buildings, and if adequate precautions are not taken it can seriously degrade your precious asset.

Most problems arising out of rain can be tackled with a little forethought and by following precautionary measures.

The world of nature always welcomes rains. The rain rejuvenates flora and fauna. Rain washes clean the environs and external building surfaces. But it's a different story inside. The rains could add to your woes here, causing numerous problems. But these are all solvable, and it is easy to tackle them with proper precautions and corrective measures.

Usual Problems

Rains raise atmospheric humidity. Inadequate sunlight and ventilation affects enclosed areas in buildings. Eventually dampness creeps in, and it is injurious to the people who might already be suffering from respiratory problems.

Dampness leads to the proliferation of algae, discolouring painted walls and resulting in peeling and flaking. Continuous darkness can affect artifacts like oil paintings. Another common problem is the seepage of rain water. Water percolates through minute surface cracks on the roof and creates soggy patches on ceilings and walls. It could even enter hairline cracks in the flooring causing tiles to become uneven.

Water proofing

While constructing a house, water proofing of terraces and toilets is extremely important. Windows and doors facing the exterior must have an overhang or chajja to prevent rainwater from entering the interiors. Water proofing compounds mixed into the plaster give an added layer of protection against water.

The exposed brick, though aesthetically attractive, can become an absorptive surface, in the absence of plastering. Varnishing or painting the brick surface will give partial protection.

Water seepage also occurs through the ground. It is advisable to raise the plinth above ground level, and have flagging concrete or plinth protection along the base of the walls on the exterior.

Interior problems

In bathrooms the dampness caused by steam creates a film on all the surfaces there. A black mould forms on shower curtains and walls, causing the warping of storage cabinets and the plywood backings of mirrors.

In kitchens due to the regular washing of cooking vessels, the splash area above the sink as well as the surrounding floors gets constantly splattered with droplets of soapy water, and this can make the floor a potentially dangerous slippery area.

The wardrobes and carpeting are difficult to maintain areas inside bedrooms. If a damp wall has a wooden wardrobe attached to it, water enters the woodwork and causes it to warp. The subsequent expansion and shrinkage makes the closing of shutters difficult since the alignment is lost. The wet carpets in closed rooms without air movement emit an odour which is very difficult to eradicate.

During rainy days it's the utility areas which are used the most. Semi dry or dripping wet clothes which hang from clothesline or stands, wet umbrellas, rain coats and wet shoes are usually placed here to avoid messing up the rest of the house.


Some sensible and easy to follow precautions if taken in time can solve most of the above problems.

  • Water proofing treatment should be done without fail during construction.
  • All rooms should have adequate cross ventilation. This facilitates air movement, and prevents odours.
  • Sunlight should be allowed to enter areas that are prone to dampness.
  • Areas with dripping water should be periodically mopped to avoid stains on the floor.
  • Walls that have constant contact with water should have cladding with glazed tiles or enamel paint. These surfaces then can be wiped dry. Shower curtains have to be wiped dry after a shower since mouldy patches left on the plastic are difficult to clean.
  • In rooms where natural ventilation is not possible, air purifiers/ humidifiers, air conditioners, fans and exhaust fans can help maintain optimum humidity.
  • The woodwork used for cabinets in wet areas should be raised above floor level if there is water. They should be coated with a melamine layer or should be fabricated from water proof plywood with laminated surfaces.
  • The interiors of wardrobes which are dark and damp, are often prone to silverfish and mould. These cause patches on internal walls, wood work and clothes. The use of naphthalene and silica gel desiccant packets helps to alleviate these problems.
  • Absorbent floor mats can be used to absorb water from rainy footwear, and avoid muddy patches on clean tiles and carpets.

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