This council house has been damp for three years – why?

The other day I visited a local authority house in the North of England.  This semi detached bungalow is occupied by an elderly couple. I was asked to carry out a damp survey because of the persistent damp, which had defied numerous attempts to rectify it.  Various opinions had been expressed and much work done.

Of course I took along my data loggers for humidity and temperature, Protimeter MMS, box of tools – the works.

But first things first; a cup of tea and a chat with the occupiers, let’s face it, nobody knows this house better than they do.

“How does this damp problem effect you” I enquire.

“Mildew”, says Mrs X. “Everywhere, on furniture, on the carpet, behind the chest of drawers, even on our clothes”

I can guess that you know where this is going?.

I listen as I’m told about the last three years of woe – Full chemical DPC installed – plaster removed and replaced half way up the walls, concrete floor in the bedroom lifted and replaced – and later, core drilled to check if the contractor had forgotten a DPM (still damp you see).

“Aren’t you going to take any readings?” asks Mrs X, “I’ve got my own meter you know, my daughter bought me it”.

I have a walk around the house, inside and out. It has cavity walls, built maybe 50 years ago.  A very obvious bituminous felt DPC with a new chemical one just above it. No salting or any damage to brickwork above DPC level. The ground levels are low and the fabric is in good condition.

Inside I see the old redundant fireplace, electric storage heaters and fan heaters, full double glazing. De-humidifier, buzzing away in the hallway “I empty it twice a week you know”!

There is an extractor fan in the kitchen and the bathroom ceilings – funny that, I saw no vents outside.  A quick investigation reveals the fans just exhaust into the roof void – with difficulty, seen as they are buried in two layers of loft insulation.

The couple are both in their 80’s, they’ve been decanted twice and heaven knows how much money has been spent in this house.  All for the sake of a bit of ducting.

We really do need to get some training done, so that more people can diagnose damp problems properly – and that doesn’t  mean buying them a moisture meter.

Dry Rot

Copyright © 2010 Preservation Expert. Legal Stuff: All the advice and information in the posts on my blog is made in good faith and is based on my experience and knowledge at the time of writing. However, nobody is infallible and whilst I’m confident that most of what I write about preservation issues is accurate, there’s a good chance there’ll be an error or two somewhere. I do change my mind about stuff, as I gain more experience. In view of this you must make your own decisions on whether to follow any advice I write and think about this; I could be wrong. No responsibility will be accepted by the author for any losses anyone may suffer as a result of any mistake or for the consequence of any action you take as a result of reading this blog. If you do suffer a loss, resulting from anything I’ve written, a verbal heartfelt apology will be your only compensation.