Rising Damp FAQs
Many have debunked the rising damp conspiracy theory, including Jeff Howell, the Sunday Telegraph writer in his book; “The Rising Damp Myth” and Pete Ward of Heritage Consulting.
Top 20 reasons why rising damp misdiagnosed:
- Water can rise: Water can rise up the base of a wall, and look like rising damp, such as from leaks, rainwater and vapour absorbed above a damp proof course, “DPC”. But that doesn’t make dampness at the base of a wall rising damp. Rising damp is a term used sole for absorption of groundwater.
- Most damp London properties have been damp proofed: Chemical damp proofing treatment hides the symptoms with impermeable plaster. Impermeable plaster changes the characteristics of a wall. Dampness continues, causing risk of significant damage.
- Damp reports rarely mentioned treatment failures: Rising damp proofers rarely mention past damp proofing treatment failures in their quotes. If it didn’t work first time, why would it work a second time?
- Inappropriate use of damp meters: Electronic moisture meters are used to justify misdiagnosing rising damp.
- RICS surveyors covering their failure to identify root cause of damp: Valuation surveyors are using damp proofer guarantees to lower their risks of not correctly identifying root cause of damp.
- Lack of independence: There is a conflict of interests when a rising damp proofer benefits from a rising damp diagnosis.
- Characteristics of groundwater: Very few surveyors understand the characteristics of groundwater and difference between groundwater and rain water in soil, which needs improved drainage.
- Sub-floor ventilation: Rainwater can cause excess sub-floor vapour. If it is not drawn out through sub-floor ventilation, vapour will become absorbed into the wall. A DPC can exaggerate dampness from vapour at the base of a wall. The problem is virtually never discussed in articles about dampness, nor correctly diagnosed. The solution is to improve ventilation.
- Rising damp proofers blame DPC: RICS surveyors often report: “these readings indicate there is rising damp”, “which is in our opinion is being caused by the existing damp-proof course having partially broken down” without any proof. Because water can’t rise up a large crack (only small gaps), a partially broken DPC is normally as effective as an intact DPC.
- RICS surveyor recommending a rising damp proofer surveys: RICS homebuyer surveyors often recommend to a buyer: “You should instruct a Property Care Association (PCA) timber and damp proof specialist to fully inspect the property, and provide a written report for the necessary remedial works. Any necessary remedial damp treatment works implemented in full under a long term guarantee.” Recommending a special with long term guarantee, is effectively recommending a damp proofer with a conflict of interest, because the surveyor, thinks, but doesn’t know that there is rising damp.
- Surface salts: Interstitial condensation can cause salts in building material to become drawn to the surface. But RICS surveyors are taught that condensation doesn’t cause surface salts. Therefore if there are surface salts condensation is often incorrectly eliminated, despite the risk of condensation forming and being absorbed in a wall.
- Hygroscopic salts: Most rising damp proofers will state that hygroscopic salts are caused by rising damp, whereas almost all hygroscopic salts in London properties are from changes to the chimney breast, releasing salts from the historic burning of fossil fuels.
- Elimination process: Many surveys use an elimination process, starting with penetrating damp, leaks and condensation. This makes rising damp the default if no other form of dampness is identified. However, penetrating damp, leaks and condensation are not always easy to correctly eliminate on a single visit.
- No checking risk of high groundwater: It is easy to check if there is a risk of high groundwater, by high water tables. But no rising damp proofers check the height of the local water table (because it is not in their interest).
- Ignore obvious signs of other damp: Obvious signs of penetrating damp or risks of condensation are normally ignored in rising damp proofer reports. Consequently rising damp proofers never recommend using the low cost, low impact recommendations first, such as improved ventilation. There is not profit in recommending a window should be opened more often.
- Lack of equipment: It is rare that rising damp proofers or RICS homebuyer surveyors use infra-red cameras to identify condensation risks or anemometers to test ventilation. Very few surveyors test and confirm the presence of groundwater before diagnosing rising damp.
- Houses aren’t built damp: Rising damp proofers don’t consider the impact that changes have on water and vapour, and how this knowledge can help trace the root cause of damp.
- Long time: Tracing the root cause of damp can take a long time, visit to the neighbour’s side of a wall, below ground and data-logging of dampness and relative humidity. RICS surveyors and rising damp proofers don’t habitually see the other side of a damp party wall.
- 2,000 walls no rising damp: Not a one wall of over 2,000 damp walls, previously diagnosed as having rising damp, and chemically treated for rising damp, resulted from rising damp.
- £1,000 reward to identify rising damp: We even offered London estate agents, where a damp survey had been commissioned, over £1,000 if the root case was rising damp. So far none have been rising damp.
Independent damp survey
oUsing an array of devices and techniques we trace damp back to its source, fix the root cause (permission and time permitting) and provide a user-friendly damp report, with additional recommendations and prices – mainly London.
*We guarantee satisfaction or refund the full cost of our work, including any case of rising damp (none found so far).
The benefits of using an independent damp surveyor over a rising damp proofer (also known as contractors) are:
- Fix root cause of damp (not just symptoms).
- Stops risk of ongoing damage, such as from Dry rot.
- Consider everything, eliminate nothing.
- Conserve performance of old walls.
- Independent damp proofers are not trying to sell a product.
- Typically significantly cheaper in long run.
For clarity PCA know risign damp proofers are contactor