Moisture and Hidden Problems

Journal of Environmental Health, January-February 2004 | Go to article overview

Moisture and Hidden Problems


Water intrusions and moisture in buildings can cause a variety of problems ranging from simple but unsightly wall discoloration to more serious problems such as microbial growth. A wide range of sources can cause moisture problems in a building, and the type of problem determines the sort of repair work necessary. Therefore, it is important to understand the root cause of the moisture problem before costly repairs are undertaken.

Two possible causes of excess moisture are rising moisture and penetrating moisture. Rising moisture occurs when water from the ground seeps into the foundation of a building and rises vertically through porous building material such as brick or stone. This phenomenon usually is due to lack of a waterproofed foundation or damage to the moisture-course of a building. A moisture-course is an impermeable, waterproof material laid on the foundation just above ground to prevent moisture from traveling up the walls of a building.

Just as the term "rising moisture" describes the vertical movement of moisture, the term "penetrating moisture" describes the lateral movement of moisture and dampness. Penetrating moisture can occur both underground and above ground. …

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