Rising damp is a myth, some say. Not many really think so; that would be stupid, but those who believe this nonsense seem to have the ear of the press and the ear of RIBA and RICS too.
So instead of being drowned out by howls of derision from the those who really know about these things, they gain publicity and even a bit of notoriety too.
Yet every day – yes every day, rising damp causes damage to our housing stock. It causes salting of brickwork, wet rot in floor joists bearing into affected walls, perishing plaster surfaces and even increases heat loss at the base of walls.
Now then, you may disagree with me. Perhaps I’m just spouting an opinion too, like the ‘myth pushers’, but no, I state facts, facts proven time and again by me and importantly, by people who have really studied the phenomena scientifically.
The internet is full of papers which detail various trials and careful studies done, in an effort to quantify the nature of the problem and analyse the effectiveness of treatments. They are being ignored.
Who cares? Well we all should be worried, because when people read something in the papers they tend to believe it. If building preservation ‘experts’ generally agree on something and one or two of them suddenly start babbling an unsupported view, with no proper evidence, the papers like to publish it; conspiracy and corporate culpability sells so well.
Unfortunately the readers get the information in an unbalanced way. They then become prey for all sorts of crackpot ways of dealing with their ‘mythical’ rising damp problems.
As a result, I see people turning away from proven chemical damp-proof courses, just at the point when the technology of these systems has begun to deliver much better results. You see, chemical DPC’s have a bad press, because too many were installed improperly, by badly trained and sometimes quite iffy installers. Often no plastering was done, so the nitrate and chloride contaminated plaster just sat there; soaking up more humidity and the walls never dried out. Many DPC’s were installed for the wrong reasons; they can’t eliminate condensation or penetrating damp, or rising damp; if the cavity is blocked. This is not the fault of the material or proof that rising damp does not exist – it is the fault of the installer or the surveyor involved – or both.
Now that we have better training and the advent of DryZone DPC injection cream, standards and success rates are far higher. This is good – but because of the bad and completely unjustified attacks on the whole premise that damp rises – customers are being bamboozled into trying unproven, unreliable and generally more expensive ‘cures’.
So this is where the MMR scandal link is. The scandal was caused by poor and unproven opinion being disseminated as science fact. Before long, others jumped on the bandwagon and thousands of parents (many of the them middle class Sunday paper readers), decided that young Rupert and Felicity shouldn’t have the nasty jab. This directly caused the severe illness of many other children and eventually those who had promoted this were shown for what they were – the main doctor was struck off the medical register.
In my opinion RIBA and RICS members who seem to support this current ‘myth’ nonsense should have a read of some proper evidence. As professionals we have a responsibility to give good advice to clients; advice based on facts; advice based on knowledge.
Opinion is no substitute for fact; experience is no substitute for knowledge.