/ Home & Energy

Don’t be a drip! Watch out for dodgy damp advice

Damp companies that offer ‘free surveys’ may seem appealing, but our latest undercover investigation found several companies recommending unnecessary treatment that could cost hundreds of pounds.

Everyone loves a freebie, but if you’re tempted by the ‘free surveys’ on offer from damp-proofing companies, you may end up spending more than you need.

In our snapshot damp investigation, we invited damp-proofing companies to carry out an assessment of our properties’ damp problems. In two thirds of cases they recommended unnecessary or inappropriate treatment, or missed the problem completely. But does that mean you have to pay to get good advice?

All we needed was a plumber

In one case, our property had a leaky toilet – and any damp specialist should have instructed us to get this fixed before the room could even be assessed for other potential damp problems.

There was no evidence here of rising damp, and yet four of the eleven companies told us that we needed to install a chemical damp-proofing course in the walls and re-plaster the room – at a cost of up to £1,440!

That’s not to say all the companies were bad. We did see some good practice, with just over half of the companies that visited this property giving us helpful advice.

How to get good damp advice

Deciding whether to take your chances with a free survey, or shell out hard cash for independent advice is a toughie. Even though I’ve seen these results first-hand I know I’d be tempted to try my luck with the free option first – although I’d make sure to get at least three companies to come round and quote for the work.

Then, if there were inconsistencies in the work recommended or I had any inkling that the work might be unnecessary, I’d definitely consider getting an independent damp specialist round.

If you think you might need to call on a damp company, check our damp advice guide first for info on the different types of damp that can affect your home (if it’s just suffering from condensation you won’t need a specialist).

[This Conversation has been closed and is not open for commenting.]

Comments
Member

When I did my ‘surveyor’ training in the early 1980’s I worked for a BWPDA company who were the biggest shower of bandits on the planet. The modus operandi was to inject anything that didn’t move, stud walls flint walls, you name it, and to spray anything that didn’t fight back. Everyone was on commission and anyone that failed to achieve their monthly sales targets were heavily disciplined and threatened with the sack. (Not much has changed has it?) One thing that was interesting was the fact that we we not allowed to call ourselves ‘surveyors’, we had to call ourselves ‘Timber and Damp Inspectors’ and sign our reports with this after our names. We were told that the BWPDA insisted that we must under no circumstances refer to ourselves as ‘surveyors’. We were told then that a surveyor was somebody that had studied for years and had obtained professional qualifications. I suppose they were right about something. I’d be interested to know if this really was a BWPDA directive at that time. Perhaps David Prince remembers and could shed some light on this. Perhaps it might now be a good idea if this directive was reinstated.

Member
Pete Ward says:
4 April 2013

Richard (London Conservation)
Why dont you post more details of this case – I am sure that David Prince would be very happy to take the case to his organisation and have the ‘surveyor’ brought to task. It would be interesting to see what action his ruling / governing body – the PCA – would take, when the details were presented.

Member

Pete,

Richard didn’t state that the company involved was a member of the PCA so I don’t know if this is the case or not. Perhaps you know something that I don’t. In any event, the PCA do take any customer complaints very seriously but this is really a matter for the parties involved rather than you or I.

David

Member
Pete Ward says:
4 April 2013

David – fair comment – I’ll see if I can find out – or maybe Richard can comment – not my call to do so.. However – it does highlight yet again that there is dreadful misdiagnosis going on all the time -this industry needs cleaning up ….

Member
amac says:
4 April 2013

Hi there,

I posted above about my situation with a damp patch on an outside (cavity) wall that has been diagnosed as rising damp by a surveyor (am I supposed to put ‘surveyor?!) from a damp company who have quoted me for the work. The survey was free and they posted me a detailed quote with diagram etc. Anyway, all the details are in my previous posts but after the responses I have had I don’t know what to do now.

I’m 99% sure it’s not condensation, for above reasons.
The symptoms tie in very much with those of ‘rising damp’
I agree that there could be a problem in the cavity caused by the cavity wall insulation which has been added at some point (house was built in approx early 1930s) but I don’t know how invasive the diagnosis would be and I don’t know how to find someone to trust to have a look.
I also have a limited budget so I can’t afford hundreds of pounds for a survey and hundreds of pounds for the treatment. I do, however, need a guarantee on the work as we are trying to sell the house. (I would much rather it was rising damp then it would hopefully cost around £200-£300 for the dpc and around £100-£200 for the plastering.)

I really do appreciate any thoughts on how I should proceed.

Member

Hi Amac,

It really is vital that the damp problem is diagnosed correctly otherwise the treatment will be incorrect and guarantee or not you will still have a damp problem. It is unlikely that the dampness is attributable to rising damp but not impossible. It would be worth removing the skirting board to check the plaster hasn’t been taken down to the floor thereby bridging the damp proof course. How far up the wall is the damp visible?

David

Member
London Conservation says:
4 April 2013

David , Amac,

In response to the last two posts;

There are many schools of thought out there who question whether Rising damp actually occurs at all. If rising damp does not exist are all products sold to “cure” it going to work ? I have listed a number of sources from people far more intelligent than me explaining why it is not as prevalent as it may seem (If rising damp exists at all) .

In reference to basement waterproofing – in my opinion providing waterproofing which tries to resist the constant back pressure of moisture will ALWAYS fail, and at best will offer a temporary solution to damp. The only real way to remove damp is remove moisture source, or channel moisture away from walls using cavity drain systems or drainage – google them.

a few WELL respected sources of rising damp research below;

Mike Parrett – tested hundreds of houses diagnosed with rising damp in the 80’s and did not find a single example – there was a video about it, its probably on youtube called something like “rising damp – no such thing”. Mike is a horrendously over qualified building scientist ……EDIT found the vuideo is called ” Renovation Rising Damp ? No such thing”

BRE (Building research establishment) – Publish updated guidance notes on “rising damp” in their BRE digest. They make continued reference to PROPERLY determining rising damp by taking moisture tests from carbide tests / lab tests etc etc.

Jeff Howell – Southbank university – left bricks in water for 3 years and couldnt replicate rising damp under lab conditions

English Heritage – ” Surveying your Property ” makes mention of rising damp and condems injected and non water permable renders etc.

Tim Hutton – Building conservation – Rising damp – a very good overview of what rising damp is and how it is so commonly misdiagnosed.

All of the above available on the web ! Read up.

Richard

Member

Hi Richard,

I agree that rising damp is often misdiagnosed but it is a reflection on those companies involved not the industry as a whole.

There are many respected people and organisations that question the extent and very existence of rising damp. Equally, there are many respected people and organisations who disagree. For example, The Building Regulations require damp proof course to be installed in new houses and extensions (the only purpose of a damp proof course is to control rising damp), British Standards Institution (they have a code of practice for installing chemical damp proof courses BS6576:2005), Building Research Establishment (they have published a number of digests on rising damp) and Portsmouth University who researched the subject trying to answer the question once and for all.

I personally agree with your comments regarding cavity drain waterproofing systems. I have been installing these systems for over 15 years.

David

Member
amac says:
4 April 2013

David,

Thanks very much for your advice. From my inexperienced position, it seems like whether or not rising damp exists, it is unlikely in a cavity wall..? The small area of damp that is visible (a couple of very small patches of bubbling paint and one raised, sort of swollen patch about the size of the palm of your hand) is around a foot above the skirting and there is no staining or mould. I can try and get the skirting off but it is the original skirting with a sloping edge on top so the years of painting over mean that will be difficult and messy! The outside wall has been repainted at some point and the paint has been flaking off in places. We have had cracked areas re-rendered in patches by a local builder who tapped the wall and fixed the hollow bits. I think the original repainting wasn’t done very well and water may be getting in some cracks and this also makes me think that the insulation was probably done on the cheap as well so who knows what’s in the cavity.

What kind of company/organisation should I be looking for to help diagnose this?

Member
Pete Ward says:
5 April 2013

It’s interesting that other countries, including Holland – who build houses with their feet in water, do NOT use damp courses. The Dutch have now concluded that damp courses actually introduce a weak point in houses that allows them to rotate, and will not use them. They focus instead on the golden rule – BREATHABILITY.

Member
Heritageanddesign says:
4 April 2013

And another thing….. I had lunch with two friend the other day, one who moved from her basement flat 2 years ago and one who is trying to sell a ground floor flat. Both had ‘damp proofing’ works done by a ‘specialist’ (they couldn’t tell me if they were PCA members), both of which failed, however they were BOTH told that in 20 years of treatments, their company had had NO failures! Can you guess what’s coming next? It turned out to be the SAME company and the SAME salesman – maybe he just has a problem with is short-term memory.

Patrick, could I ask why some of my previous posts have yet to appear? They are all factual and polite like you asked.

John

Member

Hello Heritageanddesign, unfortunately we have had to temporarily take down some comments. We hope to get them back up soon. Please be patient with us 🙂 Just to note, I am very happy with the way you have made latter comments.

Member

Hello Patrick,
In response to your remarks to Heritage and Design I’m intrigued to know what you mean when you say you’ve had to take down some comments and hope to get that back soon? They all seem to be running out of order now. I notice some of my comments and observations now have ‘waiting for approval’ across them. Why is this? I certainly hope that it is considered in some way that they don’t adhere to the terms and conditions of the Which? site. Which?, and particularly this very valuable forum is designed to provide helpful information to the consumer. As everyone knows the damp proofing industry is a minefield populated by all sorts of good and bad operators. I spend most of my time attempting to provide good honest advice to people and where I can protect them from the unscrupulous sharks in the industry. I meet people every week that are trying to buy a house and borrow even more money at the last minute to have unnecessary and inappropriate treatments carried out which is I am sure you will agree is utterly despicable. These ‘sharks’ come from every direction, not just from one organisation. Much needs to be done to clean up this industry and David Prince has agreed with me on this. People like myself and others who have pride in our experience, expertise,and reputations, will, and should, continue to provide valuable insights into the industry that will hopefully limit the degree of cruel and callous exploitation the consumer is exposed to. As a consumer organisation I’m sure you would endorse this.

Member

The matter has escalated slightly. Only some of the comments that have been temporarily been taken down will require attention, however we have to take down all replies to those comments also as that’s the way the system works. I’ve even had to take down some of my own comments! I can understand the frustration – we hope to get them up again ASAP. Thank you for your patience.

Member
tomg says:
5 April 2013

For what its worth, I think it is correct that some of the comments are being “moderated”. Recently some of the valid comments have started to become more heartfelt, have started to shed more heat than light, and have verged towards being ad-hominem attacks.

That’s a shame, since the core points behind the comments have validity and deserve to be made – not to be obscured by the way they are expressed.

My own views?
– David Prince has done a respectable job on this forum.

– If the PCA don’t make it clear that their member’s surveyors don’t have surveying qualifications (as would reasonably be understood by the man on the Clapham omnibus), that should be deprecated and censured. To my jaundiced eyes, most trade organisations do little more than weed out traders that can’t be bothered to join and pay the fees. It is always useful to ask any trade organisation to provide examples where they disciplined or expelled members.

– Does anyone really believe that a company representative would not be inclined to sell that company’s products? “If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail”.

Member
Pete Ward says:
5 April 2013

Its a pity we can’t upload files here – you could see some thermal imaging of so called rising damp – in fact quite a few examples – which are very obviously due to condensation.

It s not up to PCA or anyone else to dictate qualifications to be fair – legislation should sort that – but it IS hard to sort out people who CLAIM qualifications when they are not. The main gripe on this forum is the definition of qualification. What constitutes qualification, what defines qualification? In my opinion 2 day training courses are not. Surveyors do degrees – they study for years… You can’t call yourself a surveyor unless you are..

A degree is the level of qualification needed to take apart an old house and work out what remedial action, if any, is needed to put it right again.

[This comment has been edited for breaking our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Member

Pete – Which? Conversation provides an opportunity to present their own views. Provided that they are genuine opinions, that’s fine and no expertise is necessary. In many Conversations, people are often given advice and it’s up to them whether they choose to use it.

I have been keeping an eye on this topic partly because I’m interested in use of the Internet to support self-help. I am no expert but I think that advice given on how to deal with condensation problems is helpful. What also interests me is that this Conversation has been used as a forum to provide timely answers to questions. I cannot think of any other Conversation where we have had a group of experts, which is great but I fear that we could head for more conflict and confuse people who deserve help.

If you upload your video to YouTube or a similar service you could simply post the link.

Member
Pete Ward says:
5 April 2013

Hi Wavechange – I’ve avoided doing that, mainly because the mods seem to delete any links – I dont want to appear to be going against the terms of the forum, so havent – its kindof why I only mentioned it, as opposed to putting them up. You’re absolutely right though – there’s plenty of vids on u tube already – my last comment has already been suspended and edited for apparently breaking the forum guidelines – I think basically all we are allowed to say is hello and goodbye – anything else would upset the chimical industry…

Member
Pete Ward says:
5 April 2013

Sorry – I meant to say the Property Care Association as opposed to the Chemical Industry , both of which are the same anyway… Patrick – before you delete this – would you care to respond to my very reasonable private messages regarding corruption in the damp industry please. Many thanks!

Member

Hello Pete, I have responded to your email. Please can I make it clear that we are happy for you to post measured criticisms, but any sweeping statements about companies are not allowed.

Member

In reply to tomg.
I for one will never cower to any trade organisation that misleads the public and fails to regulate it’s members activities. As many people recognize there a big difference between a trade organisation which is basically in the business for profit and an academic institute which has very strict disciplines and codes of conduct that it actually enforces with heavy fines and ultimately expulsion. If I continually misdiagnosed problems, I would receive serious warnings, heavy fines and would expect to be struck off. I hope my contributions to this forum will have given people a idea of what to be wary of when seeking help for a damp problem. I don’t make money from my posts, I am certainly not trying to advertise for further work I always have more than I can cope with. My feelings of outrage and moral indignation stem from seeing so many people being systematically conned and ripped off. I will continue, as will others with a moral conscience to do what I can to curtail the activities of anyone or any organisation that purports to safeguard the consumers interests but is in effect completely hypocritical. Which? is a consumer organisation established to protect the public. I would expect them to wholly support me in my efforts to protect consumers. I also agree that offensive and abusive personal comments on this site are totally unacceptable. In any expose of rogue salesmen one should stick rigidly to the facts.

Member
Kevin B says:
5 April 2013

David,

I have just purchased a terraced property built between 1890 and 1910. It has previously had DPC work done as evidenced by the ground floor having been replastered to about 1m from floor level. That replastering is very poor with the join not being feathered to the existing plaster and having a step ridge of about 1 – 2mm that was concealed by the now removed woodchip wallpaper – I was quite shocked by the apparent poor workmanship here.
The problem I have seems to be in two areas:-
1) The hallway seems to have been replastered several times as, having removed the radiator mounted on the hallway party wall, there are several layers of repair. However this area still looks and feels damp and where some of the area immediately behind the radiator has not been replastered one of the visible bricks is friable, damp to the touch and constantly sheeding its crumbly face. I also note that the skirting board is a short taper skirting. My thoughts here are either poor DPC treatment or that the replastering has bridges the injected DPC.
2) There is an area where I suspect the floor joists are rotted away in the lounge as the floor moves 2 – 3 inches if you jump up and down on it. This is an area where the floor joins the internal dividing wall between the lounge and dining room and is a considerable distance from the above problem. From looking in another area of the ground floor the airspace between the joinst and earth below is only about 9 – 12 inches. I suspect damp in the walls has rotted the timber ends. The air bricks look to be unblocked. I gues the timbers could have been degrading before the DPC work was done and the DPC injection could have been above these timbers.

From all the reading I have done I think it may be difficult for you to offer advise remotely but would appreciate your comments even it is to recommend that I commit to a paid for, rather than free, survey though to keep the costs reasonable I can remove floorboards for better inspection before the surveyor attends. My particular concern is the apparent poor quality of previous work and the fact that there seems to be ongoing issues at several points in the house.

Thank you,

Kevin

Member
Kevin B says:
5 April 2013

NOTE: There is a definitive “tide mark” in the replastered hallway about 20 inches up the wall.

Member
Kevin B says:
5 April 2013

Anyone help with my problem?

Not wishing to be rude but I came here for advice but like so many forums the greater interest ends up slagging the Associations or those offering advice.

As a novice to damp I have done lots or reading and read this whole discussion and it seems most (all?) of the debate points have already been stated – most in the initial investigation by Which?

Member

Hi Kevin,

Sorry I couldn’t answer your question sooner.

The bounce in the floor is likely to be caused by wet rot so this suggests the timbers are in contact with damp material, possibly damp brickwork. The sleeper walls and wall plates may also require attention. Further investigation is necessary and this will require lifting floorboards. If you do go down the route of paying for a survey (you have read the comments so you know the arguments for and against) then lifting the floorboards yourself should reduce the survey cost but you need to discuss this with your chosen surveyor. The surveyor will also be able to advise you regarding the dampness in the walls. It sounds like the re-plastering work carried out is not to the correct specification so that is one likely problem. Once a survey has been completed could you let us know the outcome?

David

Member
Kevin B says:
8 April 2013

David,

With all learnt from this page and others on the web I purchased a cheap damp (resistance) meter. With regards damp in the hallway I note that the readings increase around the radiator. the readings profile is:-
6″ from the floor 4ft either side of the radiator about 20% rising to 38% at the radiator.
As I take readings higer up the wall the 20% reduce to about 15% at 2ft and remain there.
The 38% reduces to about 23-24%
I don’t know if it is strange or a normal factor due to material resistance but when reading above the priviously replastered (pink plaster) area and taking readings on the old lime plaster the reading is a step change and zero. I also note that readings in other rooms about 6″ above the floor on the pink plaster show 18 – 20% without signs of damp or fluctuation so is this a “normal” reading for pink plaster?
While I am inclined to think leaking radiator pipes it is a combination boiler so the heating system is pressurised and I haven’t seen any drop in pressure. Ah well floor lifted and further investigation I suppose – and that is an expensive laminate floor laid by the previous owner!
NOTE: the previous replaster and damp proof work is at least 5 years old.

With regards the lounge I have learnt that the adjoining neighbour had his wood suspended floor replaced with solid concrete about 4 years ago and also suffers damp in a few places. He also had DPC injected and requested remedial works after the damop reappeared but due to central heating pipes having been cut into the wall the installers have refused any free remidial work. This could get interesting and I also know that my joists are only about 6 – 9 inches above ground level.
Yes, floor boards up and investigation here. My first experience or renovating an old house and it is a step but interesting learning curve.

Finally, I also note that the whole house has been concrete rendered (within the last 5 years I would guess) – possibly not helping the overall damp readings. Original construction is brick with lime lime mortar.

Finally and hopefully without opening the “PCA / chemical industry debate” are there any recommended surveyors in Swindon area?

Member
Pete Ward says:
8 April 2013

Your ‘damp meter’ doesnt record damp. It records conductivity. Materials which conduct include salts, plasters with ash content, mortars with ash in them, paints with metallic oxides (most victorian paints and washes) . You are wasting your time with a damp meter. The solution to most of your problems will be to record humidity – see how much moisture is in the air, and finding its way into the fabric of your house. Throw the damp meter away, and buy a little hygrometer – most garden stores have them.. Anything over 50% should warn you its too damp. Encourage ventilation – use humidity controlled extractors – I can give you a link to a company that makes them – no doubt the moderators will remove it.. but THINK moisture – what you are producing – cooking, sleeping, showering. All that has to go somewhere – and it heads for the coldest part of your house and condenses – bottom of walls, behind radiators, window reveals, doors etc… We now use thermal imaging to show people where damp occurs – it’s all about surface temps, and rarely if ever about anything else.

Member
Pete Ward says:
8 April 2013

Kevin
Most of your problem, or all of it – will be VERY simple.. MAKE SURE there is adequate ventilation under the floor – if the vents in outside walls are blocked, it’ll get damp. Suspended floors need ventilation. Its nothing to do with rising damp, or any of the other oft repeated excuses – ventilation and breathability are the key. If you can’t get a really good flow of air under the floor – you WILL have problems. The solution doesnt cost much, and you dont need a ‘surveyor’..!

Member

Hi Kevin,

It is possible the replacement of the timber floor in the neighbouring property has contributed to the damp/floor problem. The damp proof course may have been bridged and your floor timbers may be in contact with brickwork below the neighbour’s concrete floor.

David

Member
Heritageanddesign says:
8 April 2013

Kevin,

If there was a structural dampness problem, the ‘damp’ meter wouldn’t stop recording ‘damp’ as it changed from ‘pink’ plaster (non-breathable gypsum) and ‘white’ plaster (breathable lime). This shows that, as Pete says, these meters are hopeless for use on plaster. The breathablity of your walls has been reduced by the use of gypsum plaster, please don’t make it worse by injecting chemicals. Open windows, ventilate under-floors, use extraction, reduce external ground levels or introduce an ‘air trench’ to take ground water away from the structure.

John

Member
tomg says:
8 April 2013

I agree the “damp meter” records conductivity, and that conductivity depends on many parameters including those you have listed.

*If* the material being tested is *uniform* and the readings *vary* from 15% to 38% as described, it would seem to me that damp is a strong possibility for the *extra* electrical conduction. Note that it is the variation that is significant, not the absolute reading. Alternatively, what might be invisibly varying in the plaster/wall?

The cause of any damp is, of course, a completely separate issue.

Could you point me to any decent reference indicating that “anything over 50% … too damp”? Thanks.

Member
Kevin B says:
8 April 2013

First let me say thank you to those that are now assisting. It is helpfull and I need to add more facts now.

The house is empty and has been for about 6 – 8 months now. We bought it in january so no internal moisture is being produced by washing, showering etc. and I have the windows open when it’s not raining to get air through the house.

The damp in the hall near the radiator is VERY localised so I still think an underfloor leak is most likely though I have not yet had the skirting boards off to see if the DPC has been bridged nor lifted the floorboards to see underground conditions. Just in case my previous post confused anyone this wall is the party wall but not the one with the neighbour who now has a concrete floor.

The air bricks are not blocked but it does seem that the earth ground level under the floorboards is only about 6 – 9″ below the joists.

The last thing I intend is to inject a DPC – that has clearly been tried before and possibly more than once. Also all the reading I have done is definitely steering me away from that as a fix.

I am not sure what an “air trench” is and being a terrace property not sure if one could be produced.

I have just had another thought. Close to the problem in the lounge where I have the bouncing floor there is an old gas heater that had a back boiler though that had been disconnected for at least 5 years but all the old pipes and pump were close to this area – I guess it could have been an old leak not treated that has finally led to the timbers rotting.

Thank you for all your ideas but I guess it is time to get those floorboards up.

Finally as an electronics engineer I understand how this type of neter works. I was not taking the absolute readings as an induication of actual levels of damp fbut how the readings change as an indication of the limit of a potential problem.

Member
Heritageanddesign says:
8 April 2013

Kevin,

It’s a difficult thing to diagnose not being on site but perhaps, as I suggested to an earlier poster, you really should ask a PCA ‘damp specialist’ to quote for the work, sorry, I mean give you a free survey, and see what advice you get. Being localised, it does sound like an internal leak and maybe an historic leak at your ‘spongy’ floor. Also remember that these floors may have been lifted many times and damaged each time, so it may only need levelled off. You won’t know until you see it.

Member
Kevin B says:
8 April 2013

My current line of thought is.

Remove skirting, lift that laminate floor and floor boards in the hall. See what I can see.

Remove floorboards in the lounge (I am confident that it is the joists moving not just floorboards) and see what I can see. Maybe it is just the mechanical securing system of the joists to wall. Could I be that lucky?

At that point if I can’t understand the problem or you guys can’t help (I realise remote diadnostics are hard) PAY for a survey. Can anyone recomend a good surveyor who covers the Swindon area?

Member
Pete Ward says:
8 April 2013

look up timbertech services, or londonconservation.com – both these people are very experienced – one is an RICS chartered surveyor, the other very highly qualified in conservation work.

Member
Dr CJD George says:
13 June 2013

I suspect that you will find your damp meter records resistance not conductivity.

Member

I often attend functions and give talks in village halls that smell horrible and I guess this is related to dampness, even though there is usually no visible sign. Is this because the buildings are not in regular use and unheated? In contrast, I have known houses that have been unoccupied for a year or more with little or no heating or ventilation and they have not had an unpleasant smell.

Others don’t comment on the smell so I suspect I am hypersensitive.

Member
Pete Ward says:
8 April 2013

No you’re not – I get the same smell – it doesnt take much for an unheated hall to develop condensation which encourages mildew etc… I can walk into a house with the slightest bit of mould and start sneezing etc.. Some people are just more tuned to it. Churches are now encouraged to maintain humidity levels at about 50% RH., and 15 degrees. I can recommend humidity controlled extraction fans which heat and dry the incoming air if its below 14 degrees – cost about £60 a year to run – constant trickle extract, turbo extract when RH goes up – and slightly warmed dry air pushed back in when not in turbo mode. Kills the problem stone dead – all the so called rising damp symptoms disappear, condensation goes… Have a look at http://www.heritage-house.org/pages/controlling-humidity.html to see the latest technology – these have been specially designed to remove humid air. The top models also have data logging in them which allows users to keep a year long log of temperature and humidity conditions to relate back to building pathology.

Member

Thanks Pete. You are right – I have noticed the same smell in churches. I am allergic to the mould in grasses and garden sheds, so gardening or a walk in the country can bring on my asthma. Fortunately my house and loft are not a problem, and in a way it is encouraging to know that I’m likely to be able to detect non-visible damp problems when house hunting.

Thanks for the link. It is good to know that affordable solutions are available and you don’t need to be a scientist to understand how this works.

Member
Kevin B says:
5 April 2013

OK I am now off to open the Yellow Pages at a randon Surveyor page and close my eyes before stabing a point in the page.

I think the damp on my walls may be made by the p*****g contest you guys are having and as it stops at less than 3 ft you aren’t even good at that.

It has all be said. As professionals you should know when it is time to stop.

Member
Kevin B says:
5 April 2013

wow. lots of posts suddenlt disappeared!

Member

Hello Kevin, quite the opposite. We’ve just put up lots of comments that were temporarily taken down. This has moved some of the new comments made to another page, which makes it look like some have disappeared. Just use the page numbers below 🙂

Member
Kevin B says:
5 April 2013

Patrick,

Shame non of those posts suggest a way forward with my problem. I guess they are still queuing to see if they can beat the existing tide mark.

God luck moderating this lot!

Member

Hello everyone, thank you for your patience. We have republished most of the comments that were temporarily taken down. However, some regrettably required edits and others could not come back up – this is because they broke our T&Cs and commenting guidelines.

We’re happy to have all views shared on this topic, and we don’t mind if the discussion gets heated. However, if comments are offensive or make sweeping criticisms, they are in breach of our T&Cs. If you’d like to make criticisms then make sure they are helpful, measured and from your personal point of view.

We are doing everything we can to act fairly and impartially to all parties involved, and to ensure that Which? Convo continues to be a place for informative and intelligent debate.

Regretfully, we will have to close this particular thread to comments over the weekend due to the fact that we cannot give it the attention it requires. We will once again open it to comments on Monday 8 April. Thanks.

Member
Heritageanddesign says:
8 April 2013

Patrick,

I think others will agree that you are NOT being ‘fair’ or ‘impartial’ by allowing this ‘Conversation’ to continue as it is. It will merely be to the detriment of Which?. If the advice you received over the weekend was to just continue with this forum, perhaps your legal team should also obtain legal advice.

Regards

John

Member

I am also unhappy with this Conversation, but for a very different reason.

While it is great that contributors are receiving so much advice from experts, I do not understand why these experts are posting under the name of their company or under their own name (which can easily be traced to the company they own or work for). The Terms & Conditions suggest that contributors use a pseudonym and I suggest that this should be a requirement for anyone with a commercial interest.

David Prince has been invited to answer questions posted by readers, which is a little different. In the circumstances, I think it might have been better if his name and company had not been mentioned. Nevertheless, I do like the idea of having a Conversation that specifically invites people to ask questions and where experts can offer their advice.

I agree with those calling for a follow-up of the concerns reported by Hazel, in her introduction.

I feel particularly sorry for Kevin, who obviously would like some advice but does not want to get into the more fundamental issues.

Patrick – Do not hesitate to delete this message if you feel it is unhelpful or provocative.

Member

In reply to Kevin, I write posts in my company name solely because I have nothing to hide. I have explained many times that I do not do so for commercial reasons. I have, and always have had, more work than I can possibly cope with.

[This comment has been slightly edited for breaking our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Member
tomg says:
8 April 2013

Timbertechservices writes “I write posts in my company name solely because I have nothing to hide”.

That doesn’t make sense: you could make your points equally well without using your company name. Beneficially it would completely avoid you having to state you aren’t using this forum for commercial reasons!

It is perfectly reasonable and helpful to use this forum to raise well-formed questions about trade organisations and companies. It is not helpful to bang on and on and on and on at the same point to such a degree that it overwhelms the ability of people to find answers to their questions.

Member

In response to tomg;

As far as your first point is concerned one should perhaps not be too hasty in making inaccurate assumptions. Replying to the second point,much of the advice being offered by Which? and David Prince is sound;some of it is not. I spend most of my time trying to save people from being ripped off because they have been advised incorrectly. Unbiased free professional advice can be quite hard to find. Most people that give it have a vested interest in doing so.I apologize if you find my comments overwhelming. Thankfully most people that read these comments don’t share your opinion.

Member
tomg says:
8 April 2013

timbertechservices writes “I apologize if you find my comments overwhelming.”

My apologies: I should have made it clearer that my second comment wasn’t aimed at you specifically. Rather it was a general frustration about the recent comments on this forum.

Nonetheless, I still think my first comment is valid; I’m sure others will make their own judgement.

Member

Response to tomg;

No problem. I think a lot of comment space and hot air could have been saved if important questions concerning rogue companies that should have been answered a long time ago were not simply ignored. In a similar vein people are naturally going to keep reacting when advice given is supposed to be impartial when everyone one can clearly see that the same organisation is repeatedly being recommended despite the glaring fact of my first point.

Member
tomg says:
8 April 2013

timbertechservices raises points that have some validity but are difficult to resolve on a forum such as this.

If 1% of an organisations’ members are “rogue” and 50% of non-members are rogue, then it is probably reasonable to recommend the organisation as a starting point for finding contractors. OTOH, if 50% of members and non-members are “rogue” then it would probably be inappropriate. I have no idea how I could determine the percentages in this case 🙁

There are “ways of reacting” and “WAYS OF REACTING”! I’m reminded of dealing with teenagers 🙂 Some of the postings have made me think of the Churchill quote “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”. And, even if the points are valid, that is not only unhelpful but it also distracts from the points.

IMHO this forum is a reasonable place to calmly note problems with organisations, but it is unreasonable to expect that the problems will be resolved here.

Member

I agree with your points, Tomg. I also feeling guilty for having taken off-topic, further discouraging people with problems from posting.

If someone posts a query, there is nothing wrong with having two or more responses. That might help the original poster.

I think there is considerable scope for helping people better understand how to understand and deal with condensation problems. There is considerable scope to provide help and hopefully less risk of conflict than with some of the more serious and challenging damp problems.

Member

Unanswered Questions.

What started this particular forum over sixteen months ago was the investigation by Which? into the good or bad advice offered to consumers by damp proofing companies. This ‘snapshot’ or expose revealed that of the companies invited in to diagnose and quote for damp problems, half were members of the PCA. Some of these PCA companies, some of them large national concerns offered very poor advice, misdiagnosed problems, and quoted for unnecessary and inappropriate treatments. Sixteen months later people are still asking what action has been taken by the PCA to address this problem. This seems to be a question that nobody is prepared to answer. It is hardly a complicated matter that requires nearly a year and a half to research to investigate. Throughout this time David Prince is still avidly recommending people should use PCA surveyors in respect of their damp problems despite the fact that no information has been disclosed about what action the PCA has taken against these ‘surveyors’. We were told by David Prince back in December 2011 that we must not jump to conclusions or pre-judge the findings of the PCA as these would be revealed in due course. In any situation where the consumer is misled, people need to know once those responsible are exposed that some form of appropriate action has been taken against them. People are quite naturally concerned that if the matter is simply swept under the carpet these people for whatever reason will continue to misdiagnose problems and suggest inappropriate and unnecessary treatments. Consumers now need some honest answers to some very simple questions. We need to know exactly what disciplinary action was taken against them and also;

(a) Were these ‘surveyors’ newly ‘qualified’ with very limited experience, if not, how long had they been employed as ‘surveyors’ in the damp proofing industry?

(b) Is this the first time they have been discovered misdiagnosing problems?

(c) Are they still employed by the companies they were working for sixteen months ago?

(d) If they are still employed by these companies, if so have they undertaken any kind of retraining?

It hardly needs to be said, and it is certainly not a sweeping statement to suggest that if the confidence of the consumer is to be restored and for all of us who are involved and care passionately about the industry we work in these disclosures now have to be made.

Member
Pete Ward says:
8 April 2013

Patrick

I have just put up two completely fair, informative, and unbiased comments – one answering someone who wants a surveyor in swindon – I have indicated a fully qualified RICS chartered surveyor, and another post which is focussed on solutions to humidity.

You have pulled both of them.

Can you please explain, very clearly and concisely to all of the followers on the thread, why you have pulled these answers. They both conform with commenting guidelines.

I am being rather restrained in my reaction to this at the moment. I have written twice to you privately and not received a satisfactory answer to either emails. I think you have a duty to consumers to explain – this thread is now well known. A lot of people are asking questions about Which? and are quite obviously concerned that you have failed the consumer.

Facts are important. Facts are king. Why do you not allow facts to be published Patrick?

Member
EltonN says:
15 June 2013

If Facts are King then why don’t you read up on some facts about building physics rather than taking a load of circumstantial evidence and presenting it as science. There is an interesting chapter on Cargo Cult Science in Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman which pretty much sums up the type of “facts” that are presented on your website. Hall and Hoff’s paper on “Rising Damp – Capillary Rise Dynamics in Walls” (Proceedings of of the Royal Society) would be a good place to start as it demonstrates that rising damp in porous masonry materials is fully predicted by the laws of physics contrary to the bunkum presented on your website. It’s healthy for people to have opinions, but it is important that you don’t fall into the trap of presenting conjecture as fact.

Member

Hello Pete, any comment with a link automatically goes into our moderation queue for manual approval. This is so that we can make sure they don’t go to illegal websites. Please be patient with us.