DAMPNESS IN BUILDING – CAUSES, SOURCES & DEFECTS

Moisture in a building is one of the important aspects to consider during building design. Because if it is neglected it will adversely affect the structure of the building and create unhygienic conditions for the people living in that building.

3 primary causes of building moisture

Water ingress into building components (such as walls, floors, ceilings or basements, etc.) is the primary cause of dampness.

There are three primary causes of dampness in a building:

  • poor quality of construction materials
  • bad design
  • defective construction or poor workmanship

1.poor quality of construction materials

Most building materials such as concrete, brick or plaster have a mutual void within them. When these substances come in contact with water, water finds a way to enter these voids. This water again, aided by capillary action; Moisture moves in different directions.

2.bad design

While designing a building, it is very important to consider what could be the source of water which can enter through the building and accordingly the designer should mention what kind of damp proof course to provide.

3.defective construction or poor workmanship

Suppose a designer specified that the thickness of the damp-proof-course should be 15 mm. But due to lack of adequate supervision, the thickness of the complete damp proof course becomes 10 mm. So it will not serve the purpose for which it is built and as a result it will create moisture in the building.

6 major sources of moisture

When water comes into contact with building components such as walls, roofs, floors, etc., these components act as a medium to help the water move through the building.


The 5 major sources of moisture are as follows.

  1. Due to capillary action, the water in the ground soil can rise above ground level through the walls. If the groundwater level is close to the foundation of the building, it can also become a source of moisture.
  2. Condensation of atmospheric moisture can also be a source of moisture. Because this form of water accumulates on various components and slowly finds its way to enter the building causing moisture to build up.
  3. Rain water falling on exterior walls, parapets also causes dampness.
  4. If the roof is damaged, rain water can also enter the roofs. Inadequate roof slope or faulty junction between roof slab and parapet wall can cause dampness
  5. The presence of gutters near the building will cause rain water to accumulate and later this water will create moisture in the exterior walls.
  6. Substandard plumbing fittings in wet areas of buildings (such as kitchens, shower rooms) can also be a source of moisture.

5 Common Defects Caused By Moisture

The common faults caused by moisture in the building are as follows.

  1. Moisture causes swelling of bricks, stone tiles.
  2. This weakens the plaster.
  3. This can cause bleaching and flaking of the paint due to the formation of colored patches.
  4. It causes corrosion of metals.
  5. It promotes the growth of termites.


Er. Mukesh Kumar

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Er. Mukesh Kumar is Editor in Chief and Co-Funder at ProCivilEngineer.com Civil Engineering Website. Mukesh Kumar is a Bachelor in Civil Engineering From MIT. He has work experience in Highway Construction, Bridge Construction, Railway Steel Girder work, Under box culvert construction, Retaining wall construction. He was a lecturer in a Engineering college for more than 6 years.