Thank you for looking in Paul – I appreciate your input. I’ve looked at your site from a damp specialist view and there is lots of great information there – well done.
(for those who don’t know Paul he replied to another post and raised a point about the moisture meter debate… here).
Your premise that there are two parties in a debate about these meters and that both have merit, is a not something I agree with.
I think that the whole debate has been hijacked by a narrow but vocal minority, who have identified a real problem, with these meters being used unethically, but have then grasped a business opportunity and used the meter as a red herring, to serve their own commercial aims, leaving aside the ethics and focusing on the meters themselves.
Let me explain this. In the UK there has been a long tradition of surveyors allowing damp specialist firms (like me), to act as the specifier of work and the guarantor of work. In insisting on a guarantee some damp specialists have had a field day in the past, recommending invasive and sometimes unnecessary damp proofing work, usually justifying the recommendation using an electronic moisture meter.
Lots of money has been wasted and consumers ripped off (though a great deal of valuable and good work has been done also). This is self-evident. It is the result of the daft system we are stuck with here, which means that anyone can just set themselves up as a damp specialist and are fed a constant supply of vulnerable consumers, who are almost forced to use them (I am one remember). There are good damp specialists and there are bad ones – they all use electronic moisture meters of course. The Property Care Association has tried very hard to ensure that those damp specialists who want to learn and have high standards prosper, over those that don’t, but the system is still in place.
Honest and fair-minded people don’t like the system (I don’t), but the meter we all use has little to do with the problem, if anything at all. The problem is one of ethics and lack of supervision and control.
You and I both know that only a basic knowledge is needed, along with a little practice, in order to use an electronic moisture meter correctly. A good understanding of buildings and building materials, along with experience and some initial training is all that is required.
Those professionals who recognise the problem have tried to bring about change; sharing knowledge; raising standards and consulting with the various parties (in the UK that is PCA, RICS, SPAB and CIOB among others), to bring about change. It’s easy to get hot under the collar – I get that way sometimes too (one of my pet hates is the ‘toxic mould’ bandwagon – I rant about that one a lot).
However, of late I have come across a worrying manifestation – the rise of the Anti Damp Specialist Damp Specialist (ADSDS).
These guys feed off the natural indignation right-minded people feel about the whole damp-proofing problem and they see a chance for fame and money.
The fame is easy – they are just very vocal about highlighting the well-known problems of unnecessary damp proofing work. The money though, is the real goal and this is why I use the term ADSDS. These are the letters they should display after their names.
There is heavy irony here; they are so damning and vocal about the misuse of electronic moisture meters and ‘damp specialists’, yet they uniformly use the exact same methods of marketing and bamboozlement, which the real cowboys use; Fear – Misinformation; Reliance on gadgets and loud promises of honesty, whilst saying everyone else is dishonest and incompetent.
Thus the typical web site these guys write will say…
There is no such thing as rising damp
Obviously this is garbage and the evidence to the contrary is clear and irrefutable. But it has a tiny ring of truth and is attractive, if you’re a layman who’s read one or two media blogs and likes conspiracy theories and the X-files.
Electronic moisture meters are useless!
Another howler – to back this up they’ll sprinkle a few choice sentences in, such as “FACT – they measure electrical resistance not moisture” – “FACT – I put the meter on my head and it beeped – does that mean I have rising damp?” and even… “FACT – salts set them off not damp”.
Other common ones are….
ALL damp specialists (apart from them), are liars and frauds – a carbide meter is always right
Sorry for the capital letters Paul, they use them a lot – along with italics too, using self-righteous truth to sell a lie, is well trodden marketing flim-flam . These are lies disguised as facts.
How so? Well let’s think about the reader of these sites. They are worried they will be conned by the bogeyman that is the damp-proofing industry. The best action they should take, to avoid this would be to do good homework and stay rational and sceptical. Get good independent advice – make an informed decision, maybe get word of mouth recommendations?
The ADSDS does not want that. So he will feed the reader with these emotive sentences, to try to validate the reader’s scepticism, reinforce it and at the same time close the sale.
So here’s a couple of the latest sentences designed to make the consumer hesitate…
You need a thermal imaging camera to diagnose damp – ventilation will cure all damp.
These two are quite new. That’s because the ADSDS’s have realised they need to differentiate themselves from real damp specialists some more. That means more gadgets. In trying to destroy the reputation of the humble electronic moisture meter (you could say it was the flashy gadget of it’s day), the ADSDS copies the tried and tested solution to bamboozling clients – get something flashy to validate your (pre-decided) recommendations! In addition PIV units are big business in the UK now and they see a quick buck here and can recommend these whilst staying ‘on message’.
I own a thermal imaging camera, a carbide meter, a gravimetric lab and an electronic moisture meter (or three). And yes none of them measures neither damp, nor salt content or even temperature. What they can do is help a surveyor by giving indications of these things….
As for ventilation solving all damp problems and lime being a wonder material, which will do the same…. This is the real reason for that
The sale I alluded to earlier.
This being the over inflated ‘special’ survey – pricey telephone consultation – Positive Pressure Ventilation unit or, a quote for some lime pointing, plastering or rendering (at a vast mark-up). The sale will probably include a number of the above items.
At worst for the ADSDS the reader may ‘click-away’ from the web site, but these ADSDS’s will even carry google adds on the site, (for the very damp proofing specialists and manufacturers they assert are cowboys), so that hopefully they can make a few quid just from the visit.
So we are come full circle – now the consumer has two fraudulent cowboy types to be afraid of – The damp specialist (CSRT – like me), and the Anti damp Specialist Damp Specialist (ADSDS)
Sorry for the long essay Paul – I hope you see why your wonderful electronic moisture meters are being attacked – it has nothing to do with the meters – it’s all about the money. The products you sell are useful tools.
Good luck with the site Paul.