Testing for salts in masonry can reveal previously unknown information regarding the potential sources of damp / moisture ingress. Salt analysis is therefore commonly used during a damp survey in association with other methods to help accurately establish a diagnosis.
Salts in masonry can arise due to a variety of reasons. When masonry materials become wet dependent upon the origin of moisture salts may be drawn into the fabric of the structure. Similarly, some building materials may also contain a degree of salt from their earthly origins. Water added during the construction phase will also incorporate a small amount of dissolved salt, all of which will become evident as moisture evaporates from the structure leaving behind deposits upon the surface.
Walls affected by rising damp may become contaminated with ground water salts mainly chlorides and nitrates which accumulate as moisture within the ground migrates through the structure. These salts are transferred into both the walls and plaster as moisture evaporates often leaving behind salty deposits on the face of the wall, spoiling both the plaster and decorations.
Chimney breasts can also be problematic with salts caused by the long-term combustion of fossil fuels within the fireplace (coal and wood etc). These salts line the inside of the chimney flue and often with the accompaniment of water ingress over years can allow salts to migrate in solution through the brickwork and into the surface plaster where they cause dampness and discolouration.
Some salts are harmless such as, construction related efflorescent salts which can be simply brushed away. Salts which arise from a single incident such as, water ingress via materials contaminated are also rarely a worry, however, salts which are present through long term cyclic dampness can be much more damaging.
Not all salts crystalise upon the surface, crystallisation can also occur within or between layers of different materials. We often refer to this as crypto-efflorescence. This occurs when salts develop within the pores of the material a process often caused by barriers to the drying process or by extensive salt crystallisation on the surface. The result is, salts which can no longer reach the surface crystallise within the pores. The stress this exerts can often be stronger than the masonry causing it to shale and delaminate. In this circumstance crypto-efflorescence can be very damaging.
Many salts are also hygroscopic, meaning they have the ability absorb moisture from the atmosphere. This hygroscopic ability means walls and plaster contaminated with salt may be restricted from drying if they are subject to high humidity conditions or remain contaminated. It is usually for this reason that following a damp proof course installation, the existing contaminated plaster is normally removed and reinstated with new fresh plaster incorporating a salt inhibitor.
Our damp surveys are only undertaken by experienced and qualified surveyors who have been independently trained and examined by our leading industry bodies proving their knowledge and expertise.
Our surveys are conducted in accordance with British Standard Codes of Practice and industry guidelines.
Once complete our surveyors will produce a bespoke report which will contain a comprehensive assessment of the problems identified during our survey. Our reports include our diagnosis, damage appraisal, recommendations, repair specifications and costs for repairs, if necessary.
Edited pictures along with category damage ratings are also included to assist your understanding about the urgency of any repairs needed.
Our reports are available in both printed media and/or secure electronic portable documents (PDF) for email.
If you suspect a problem and require a survey, or simply need advice please contact us.