One of the biggest problems facing the construction industry is the lack of experts and this is one of the reasons behind the damp walls that are the bane of most homeowners in the City Beautiful. This relatively young city with no-frills modern architecture still faces the problem of seepage.
Let’s take a look at how and why water tends to seep into your walls, peeling off the brand new paint and making your home look worn out.
One of the main culprits is the plumber and his boys.
They go for larger machines (jack hammers) because they have to cut through foundation masonry or thick masonry.
For vertical pipes in the masonry walls, cutting a 1-inch wide chase going up through the roof sheet is a daily job for some of them. And to hell with the broken DPC (Damp Proof Course, needed to prevent moisture from the earth rising into the brick walls) on the ground floor or the finished floor.
Unless someone makes sure the 4″ diameter pipes are pre-routed while building the masonry/foundation walls, we’re going to have moisture problems. It’s also important to make sure that sleeves (a small piece of pipe that helps to join 2 pipes in it) are well made and watertight.
The plumber believes (like many construction workers) that placing or packing cement or mortar in the joints is comparable to waterproofing the joint. Nobody told them about silicone sealants. And flexible connection systems.
So if you look at the building afterwards, especially those with a basement, you will realize that most water seepage problems are due to the plumber. He doesn’t think waterproofing plumbing systems is his responsibility or even his job.
A little extra water in the drain and sewerage literally guarantees leakage. The subsequent softening of the earth, in turn, leads to the breaking of connections in pipelines – and the leakage of more water.
Another major problem is that the inspection pits (manholes) are not watertight inside out. In addition to all connections in and out of the room are rigid connections. This is a problem because of the movement of the earth. Unlike many construction workers at rest, the earth is constantly moving beneath our feet. In fact, there are nearly 3000 plus earthquakes a year and nearly a hundred a day. Even a truck movement on the road that abuts the plot causes vibrations.
All pipes in and out of an inspection pit (a manhole) must be connected to be flexible.
You can also get ready-made chambers (made of sturdy plastic) with multiple rubber inlets (3 to 5 or more) and one outlet on the other side. They have been used in the developed world for a long time, but here in India we have yet to catch up.
So call in that MEP (mechanical electrical and plumbing) advisor or an enlightened plumber to prevent those annoying damp spots in the house. It’s a small step that will go a long way in improving the life and appearance of your home.
(The writer is an accomplished architect and president of the Chandigarh Architect Association)