Gardens Against Plaster Cladding Causing Leaks

Are you living in a plaster cladding home, or a house with no wall cavity system?

One common issue we regularly come across is where home owners have pushed a garden up against the house to a higher level than the base of the cladding.

There should be a sufficient gap between your ground level and the bottom of the cladding (‘Ground Clearance’). If you put dirt up to or above the bottom of the plaster cladding, you could get what’s called ‘capillary reaction’. This simply means the saturation of the dirt can soak back up the plaster and get absorbed into the bottom plate of timber in your wall (and beyond). If you notice your skirting boards have swollen or you have a small leak around the edge of your carpet, then you may already have wet timber in that wall, and possibly other walls of the home if the ground levels around the house are similar.

No matter what type of cladding you have, you should always keep your garden off the wall where possible, unless it’s up against a concrete foundation that has a waterproofing membrane as a precautionary measure. Just like a human, a home needs to breathe, and air needs to be able to circulate around to help dry out any damp areas. Gardens can stifle this process in critical areas, especially if the drainage in the area is not getting the water away from the house.

Can you simply cut the bottom of the cladding to create sufficient ground clearance?

This would depend on how far the cladding runs down past the bottom plate of timber. In many cases you won’t be able raise the height of the cladding base because you’ll expose the timber and potentially compound the issue. Consult a qualified builder who has experience with monolithic, harditex, insulclad or preferably all types of plaster cladding systems to assess your situation and what can be done to improve your drainage etc.

Tip: Take a walk around your house, and if you can see ANY areas where water could potentially touch the bottom of your cladding (excluding block), then you may need to look at drainage options for that area.

If you do see an area where wet dirt or water could be leaking into your home or building, then a moisture test in the area could be a wise move to make sure you aren’t covering up already rotted timber. Moisture and leaks in your walls can spread like cancer… don’t take the risk. Thermal imaging and leak testing could quickly put your mind at ease!

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