The good news is that, generally, concrete, stone, brick and masonry walls and concrete or screeded floors that have cracks less than 1 mm wide (the thickness of a credit card) are common and usually do not warrant any corrective action. Most of these small tight cracks are caused by normal shrinkage as the moisture in the walls and floors evaporates over time or settlement of the structure which usually occurs within the first few years after construction.
Be warned, however, that changes in condition around the structure may also cause settlement many years later! Examples are planting a new garden or tree or removing a garden or tree that is against or close to the house.
Moreover, if a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal masonry crack is filled with hard masonry patching compound, any substantial future movement is likely to show up as a new crack in the patched area or nearby. Therefore, always use a non-shrinking grout to prevent stressing yourself!
Cracks that continue to move are a reason for concern! Continued movement in cracks should be evaluated as there may be a need for corrective action. Therefore, if you notice a crack has re-cracked or the crack has opened or gotten larger it should be monitored! However, first, make sure there is no shrinkage of the filler product. All cracks that are 5 mm and greater should be carefully monitored to ensure there is no continued movement.
Indoor air pollution, mould and asthma are a serious issues in many homes!
When it comes to assessing your family’s indoor air environment there are 5 categories of concern to consider! South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs is not concerned with residential indoor air quality! As a result, we need to learn what indoor air quality is from America’s Environmental Protection Agency. They have identified 5 danger levels of indoor pollution. Indoor air pollution is a major human health issue worldwide under normal conditions. However, poor indoor air quality and mould cause asthma attacks that are worsened when you and your family spend most of your time indoors.
Homes with windows and doors closed lack adequate ventilation. In addition, the lack of airbricks increased insulation and better-sealing windows and doors make new homes much more energy-efficient than older houses. As a result, in new homes, it is even more difficult to get fresh clean air into the home.
If you are like many homeowners, you have probably wondered why some houses have no gutters to provide protection against stormwater. You may have wished your own home had none because of the cleaning and maintenance issues.
Gutters are not required by law on a sloping roof. Many modern homes have none, even in instances where they would benefit by having them. There are alternatives that architects sometimes prefer such as concrete paving around the perimeter of your house.
In order to decide for yourself whether rainwater gutters are necessary for your home, it is best to first learn what the building regulations require.
The Building Regulations do not require roof gutters and downpipes if another suitable means of drainage has been provided to remove or disperse rainwater from the roof away from your home.
However, the Building Regulations do require that any stormwater that flows from your roof or any area that is in the immediate vicinity of your home must not cause damage to theinterior of the building, its structure or its structural elements. The regulations require steps to be taken to ensure that stormwater does not accumulate in a way that“unduly inconveniences” you as the occupant of your home.
Furthermore, the system used must:
not undercut the foundations by erosion or flooding
drain stormwater away from your home
not allow stormwater to accumulate against or close to the external walls
make provision for the drainage of any areas on the property where water pools
Moisture absorbed into brickwork and plasterwork causes them to expand slightly. When the brickwork and plasterwork dry they contract slightly. The water absorbed by the bricks and plasterwork usually causes a slight vertical crack at the edges of the internal window sills. The paint then starts to bubble along the vertical crack. This crack may continue around the length of the window sill before you notice it. What started out as a small vertical crack then becomes a horizontal crack along the bottom of the window sill on the interior face of the sill wall.
The cracks are usually not significant unless allowed to continue unabated.
Sometimes the moisture intrusion at sills are mistaken for rising damp! Water leaking in at the window sill may bypass the damp proof course (DPC) built in under the window sill as a water-resistant barrier. The moisture may then appear as bubbling paint or crazing cracking of plasterwork, or both, below the window, extending down to floor level.
On external face-brick walls, this may appear as efflorescence (a white powder).
Internally, this may appear as bubbling paint above the skirting or discolouration of the skirting itself.
How do you prevent the moisture intrusion into window sills?