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Damp Proof Courses

A Damp Proof Course (DPC) is a continuous barrier installed in buildings to prevent capillary climb of water in walls. Current building regulations state that walls must resist the passage of water from the ground and that this requirement can be reached if a damp proof course is provided. Therefore almost all modern houses within the UK will be built with some form of damp proof course to control dampness.  Good building practice dictates that a damp proof course should be located no less than 150mm above external ground height. 

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Evolution of Damp proof course 

It is often inaccurately stated that the Public Health Act 1875 made the inclusion of a damp proof course in buildings mandatory. Whilst this act made great steps to combat filth urban living, the act itself did not make this requirement. 

The act did however empower local governments to introduce byelaws to improve the quality of housing. It is in these byelaws that we started to see the requirement for the inclusion of damp proof courses. 

Over time, the material used as a damp proof course has changed with some early types including overlapping slate, lead and engineering bricks. Today the vast majority of DPCs are constructed of Polyethylene. These are highly reliable and have proven increible robust. 

Do Damp Proof Courses fail? 

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) claims that it is “unlikely” that a physical damp proof course will fail. They state in most instances it is likely to have been compromised or bridged by render, internal plaster or higher external ground levels. 

However they state that certain types of damp proof courses can fail occasionally including engineering bricks, overlapping slates and bitumen felt. If you are unsure if the damp proof course has been compromised or failed then speak to a member of the association that specialises in damp control.  

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Do all buildings have damp proof courses? 

No, as a rule of thumb, a Damp proof course should only be expected in building constructed after 1875. 

How can I learn more about damp proof courses

For those wanting to learn more about damp proof courses as well as a whole host of other dampness or moisture related subjects, you can always take a look at the variety of damp related training courses we have available. Simply run a search using the tool below or visit our training & qualifications section.

Alternatively, get in touch with our training team on 01480 400 000 and chat to them about available training options or contact us online using the form.

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