The following is a short article extracted from The RICS journal. I have only made it available on my blog for discussion by the linkedin damp diagnosis group members, following a request by our moderator Phil (we’ll be sharing a cell together if I get into trouble for it;)
I will read it properly over the weekend and then put my two pennies worth in. I have no permission to copy this so if it does evaporate it is due to copyright infingement!
If I see the word holistic in another surveyors report I’ll scream.
Anyway – enjoy.
This is my reply to the discussion group: I’m told some are having problems downloading the word doc so here it is: I’ve not addressed the science – that’s Graham’s department.
Our group has made lots of progress over the past 18 months and has helped the RICS guys and the specialist guys see the issue from each other’s angle. I’ve lots of respect for our members and by and large our discussions have been progressive and there’s a convergence of opinion, which will lead to a far better service for clients.
Reading the article, I’m a bit disappointed that there are some who still push the ‘rising damp myth’ line, which is thoroughly debunked. The title says it all really, I think that the author was traumatised, (wounded and indignant?) by the Lewisham debacle and is clearly so emphatically ‘rising damp myth’ entrenched, that it seems to me, he’s still banging away to try to prove his point at all costs.
I covered this in a recent blog where I stated….”The zealots are not interested; they cannot accept anything we say; we are condemned charlatans and their own credibility is supported by our broken reputation. Repudiating this position would expose them as shallow publicity seekers”… http://www.preservationexpert.co.uk/the-rise-of-the-rising-damp-myth-mongers-and-why-they-can-never-accept-the-facts/
In saying that, the author could bring lots to the table I think. He’s clearly dedicated and enthusiastic and I’d love to engage with him; he may teach me something, many others have.
This could have been a really useful article for surveyors (the readership of the journal). Not enough surveyors take salt contamination into account when they survey houses. However, the fact that tap water mixed with mortar has trace amounts in is completely irrelevant to them; as surveyors (not scientists….is the author one?).
Where salts are actually causing harm: such as on the face of a chimney; in farm buildings or after a decade’s long rising damp problem, they do need to be addressed. Otherwise the salts themselves, now being so concentrated, will continue to cause their client problems. This is the stuff of basic surveying knowledge.
Excuse the pun but this talk of Fairy liquid and addition of nitrates to the building fabric by tap water is wishy-washy nonsense. Almost all the rising damp I see, in and around Leeds and Yorkshire, is in lime mortars and as anyone with any trowel knowledge or any decent surveyor knows full well, lime mortars never needed any plasticiser or wetting agent; only the cement mortars demanded these. Even then, you’re talking a squirt per bucket-full of water. To suggest that there’s sufficient salt by this route to affect the performance of a conductivity meter is a joke. It’s derived from the authors pre-stated position, that electrical moisture meters are the devils work; go on; go round your house now and try and get a high reading where there isn’t or hasn’t been previous movement of water to concentrate them. Salts can’t walk, they only move in a solution so there must be a prolonged movement to make the salt band at the evaporation front.
As for pipe leaks in the chimney hearth; chimneys are known moisture sinks; basic surveying again. What is a chimney? It is thick mass of brick or stone; no DPC, embedded in the ground; sticking through the roof and full of ammonia and sulphates from the burning of fossil fuel. Now bricked up, they get damp – get over it. I dare say a leak occurs now and again too, well fix that.
Don’t mention foil backed paper and graphite blocks – only a complete imbecile would mistake these false positives for real rising damp – it’s an insult to competent surveyors, from any background to suggest they do. Maybe the odd cowboy damp-proofer might; to make a quick buck, but in thirty odd years, I’ve never caught one doing it and believe me if I had, they’d have been publicly shamed by my indignation and reported to West Yorkshire Trading Standards.
I think that much of the content of the article is aimed at proving a negative rather than shedding any new light on the damp diagnosis process – What a missed opportunity for the Journal’s readers. I wish I could have a couple of pages to help surveyors improve their site technique, many other experienced surveyors (specialist and independent), could have given much better value for that ink too.
It’s time for another article on the subject of ‘Salt Damp’. Not a scientific one – one for surveyors to help them pick-up problems and fix them – you know? Like we do every day….
Sorry about the ranting end – only human.
PS – Just noticed Dr Hindlefokker; testing gauging water for nitrates…what’s he like!