‘Rising damp’ used to be free of contention; it was there or it wasn’t. Nowadays there are some who say it is never there…..and it never was there.
How can this have happened? Were all those who thought it existed wrong? Are those who say that Rising damp “is as rare as rocking horse shit”, talking horseshit?
Strong opinions are present on both sides and the polarised argument is firmly entrenched.
As a person who has earned his living treating the problem, I find it difficult to write off my entire working life as a sham. I see Rising Damp all the time. I’m well read on the subject and I accept the science facts that explain the things I see on site. Conversely, those on the ‘rising damp myth’ bandwagon have been so vociferously venomous, if not damn right insulting, to all involved in the treatment of the ‘mythical’ problem, that they can never back down. They’d look silly if they did.
But, what about the poor Yorkshire home owner? Those with damp problems, who just want the issue resolved and haven’t the time to pour over reams and reams of technical data, reports, blogs and newspaper articles? I can’t see anything helping them because those strident purveyors of the ‘myth of rising damp’ are extremely well connected. The lay person gets their message, wrapped in a ribbon (sometimes in the same paper containing adverts for ‘green damp-proofing methods, which don’t work). And, who can blame the public for swallowing these dictates? If you are a correspondent for a national newspaper, have a TV show, a double-barrelled name or just happen to be posh and in print, you must be very clever, honest and on their side…
The response of our industry is natural. We have striven to point out the technical and scientific facts which any competent person, cannot ignore. We’ve engaged them in debate. This will not work. 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 – God forbid.
What we need is a member of the house renovation establishment to look at all this independently and speak up. Is there anyone out there capable or willing to do this? I doubt it; there’s money in it for some….I note that in a recent Telegraph article (Nov 21st), Jeff Howell once more slags off our entire industry, because we ‘want to sell you a ‘snake-oil cure’ then ends the article with a plug for his book! Trebles all round, eh Jeff?
I hope all this gets sorted soon, because I have better things to write about – honest…
For some details on the technical issues try this recent scientific paper – fascinating stuff on how rising damp varies in different mortars.