A damp proofer is a professional who works to prevent dampness, usually caused by water, from entering or permeating buildings and causing damage or other unsafe conditions. They are often involved in the construction of new buildings but also work on older buildings either to prevent dampness or to solve existing problems. Damp proofers are also often involved with the evaluation of repairs needed due to water or other sources of damp conditions.
The skills required to be a damp proofer are varied. They must be knowledgeable about a variety of chemical products and able to apply them properly in order to prevent moisture penetration as well as be able to repair damage caused by it. The areas of knowledge needed to be a damp proofer include brickwork, masonry, woodwork and the structural stability of buildings. A sound knowledge of math and the application technologies used is also important to a damp proofer, as they must determine the amounts and ratios of a number of different chemicals used as water and damp proofing agents when using different application methods.
Besides technical knowledge, damp proofers must be physically able as well. Damp proofing can involve digging, climbing and other activities, such as carrying mortar or large quantities of product to and from a work site. Additionally, they may be required to work long hours in order to meet necessary building or repair schedules.
The work damp proofers do is of vital importance to the longevity and safety of buildings. If a building is not damp proofed, surrounding ground water can be absorbed into the foundation and basement walls of a structure. In many areas, this ground water can also carry various salts and other minerals into the structure. Over time, these salts and other minerals can eat at the building’s foundation or seriously degrade the load-bearing walls of a structure by either weakening concrete, dissolving the mortar between masonry blocks or causing dry rot in wooden structural segments. If the damage caused is sufficient, the building may collapse under its own weight or be condemned and subsequently be demolished.
In addition to structural issues, dampness can lead to health-related issues. If moisture can penetrate a building, particularly in areas that are often dark, such as basements or attics, molds and other fungi can form and spread to other areas of a structure. Additionally, certain types of insects and other pests may be drawn to a structure because of excessive moisture and damage the building or otherwise make it unsafe for human occupation.