Frequently Asked Questions

How do you diagnose rising damp?
How do you treat rising damp?
How disruptive is it to have a damp proof course installed?
Can you treat rising damp without removing the wall plaster?
Wet and Dry Rot – What’s the difference?
What can I do to prevent condensation in my home?
Is condensation and mould bad for your health?
What do PCA and CSRT stand for?
Do you charge for a survey?
I have had several conflicting reports and I don’t know what to believe?
How do you diagnose rising damp?

We use a moisture meter to create a moisture profile, in accordance with the recommendations of BS6576. A moisture profile, combined with our expertise and experience, is usually sufficient, however if there are any doubts, we can do further tests, such as salt analysis.

Rising damp is very commonly misdiagnosed, and this is the biggest reason for the failure of most systems. Any surveyor diagnosing rising damp should at a minimum, be CSRT qualified. A lot of surveyors are not, and therefore do not have the necessary skills to make an accurate diagnosis.

How do you treat rising damp?

There are several methods, but the most common involves the following process –

  • Remove wall plaster a minimum of 1.1m high
  • Inject chemical DPC
  • Apply specialist waterproof plastering system, using traditional waterproof render or cavity drain membrane

To do this, we often need to remove and re-fix skirting boards, radiators and other fixtures and fittings to provide sufficient access.

How disruptive is it to have a damp proof course installed?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to do the works. It does create a lot of mess and dust and it is down to each company to ensure that they take steps to minimise this. We have a strong focus on health and safety, and this includes cleanliness on site. Our technicians will always ensure that your property is treated with care and respect and is left as clean as possible on completion of works, leaving a clean, safe environment for everyone.

Can you treat rising damp without removing the wall plaster?

The simple answer is no. Once the plaster becomes contaminated with salt, it must be replaced. There are systems out there that advertise not needing to remove the plaster, however we have never seen one that has worked yet.

Wet and Dry Rot – What’s the difference?

All fungal decay occurs when timber becomes wet for some time. Dry rot requires considerably more moisture for an outbreak to begin than wet rot does. Dry rot will usually occur where there has been water ingress or a leak. It can spread onto and destroy much of the timber and can pass through masonry. Wet rot is more frequent but is generally confined to the area where timber has become and remains wet.

Dry rot is the most serious of the two and requires extensive specialist treatment. Treatment should only be carried out by a fully trained technician, or reoccurrence is highly likely.

It is crucial that the correct problem is diagnosed, as the treatments can vary dramatically. In some cases, such as dry rot, if the problem is treated incorrectly, it can reoccur, even upon the removal of all decayed timber.

Even with our extensive experience and training, it can still be very difficult to differentiate between wet and dry rot. Simply looking at the timber is not always enough, often further investigation can be required, and must be done by a specialist.

All of our surveyors have completed the CSRT Qualification, which includes a timber examination. The study and exam involve us learning about and being able to identify every different type of decay and woodworm, right down to the most obscure. You can be assured that when we diagnose your problem, we will get it right.

 

Please see our Dry Rot and Wet Rot page for further information.

What can I do to prevent condensation in my home?

We have developed our condensation guide to assist you in determining whether you have a condensation problem in your home and provide some guidance to help you reduce the problem. We would still recommend that you consider a survey from one of our specialist surveyors, however we hope this guide helps you get a better idea of the problem you may have in your home. Please see our Condensation Control page for more information. 

Is condensation and mould bad for your health?

One of the most common questions we are asked is about health problems caused by mould. We have heard for years the evils of black spot mould and how dangerous it is.

All houses contain billions of mould spores. Virtually every human inhales hundreds of thousands of mould spores on a daily basis. Contrary to common belief, there is currently no evidence that the presence of these moulds and the exposure to them threaten the health of members of the public.

In 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published its position paper on indoor moulds and air quality which reinforced the findings of the 2004 Institute of Medicine (IOM) mould study group. In that study, the IOM stated there was insufficient evidence to find a casual association between the presence of moulds and any of the claimed adverse health effects.

The WHO and the IOM, however, both concluded there was an association between damp living spaces and some adverse health effects. Therefore, the problem is the moisture, and the poor air quality. The mould is just visual evidence of the problem.  The WHO advise that the emphasis should be put on reducing moisture and increasing ventilation.

What do PCA and CSRT stand for?

A CSRT qualified surveyor is a Certified Surveyor in Remedial Treatments. To achieve this is a lengthy process, which includes a lot of study, as well as on the job experience. Each candidate sits three test papers – damp, timber and health and safety. This is followed by oral examinations. The pass rate for the exam is very low, if you pass these exams, then you probably know your stuff. All of our surveyors are CSRT qualified, which is part of the criteria to join… 

The PCA – Property Care Association. This is our industry’s trade association.

Companies wishing to join the PCA are required to meet and maintain robust membership criteria.  These criteria cover aspects of their services including professional qualifications, technical competence, service delivery and financial stability.

In order to maintain membership of the PCA, member companies also have to maintain these standards, and are audited regularly to ensure standards are being maintained.  This gives consumers confidence that PCA members are robust and reliable companies to provide them with property care services.

Do you charge for a survey?

We pride ourselves in carrying out an honest, professional and highly skilled service. When tradesmen carry out ‘free surveys’ they are usually doing so in the hope of finding one thing – work!

If a survey fee is paid, this covers the cost of our surveyors time, fuel, professional fees etc. and means that he is in no rush when he arrives at your property, and is under no pressure to ‘find work’. An honest, accurate assessment will be carried out. In 2018, we recommended no necessary remedial works on over 25% of the properties we surveyed.

Rather than trying to explain further, we will give two recent examples where a survey was paid for, but it actually worked out an awful lot cheaper than a free one.

A property in South Tyneside was on the market and had a prospective buyer. We were asked to carry out a damp survey on their behalf. We found no evidence of dampness at all during this survey, however we did notice some red spores, which can be an indicator of dry rot. Although we hadn’t been asked to look for dry rot (no one else had picked anything up at this point), our experience told us that these spores meant there was a fruiting body somewhere in the building. Sure enough, we lifted up some floor boards and checked the timbers underneath, to find an untreated outbreak of Dry Rot. This had spread throughout the ground floor. The cost of remedial works was £15,000.

I’m sure you can only imagine the relief of the potential buyer when they realised they were on the brink of buying a property with £15,000 worth of essential repairs, that no one had detected. They were able to negotiate with the seller to reduce the house price (by around £7,500 we believe) prior to going through with the sale. Would a local tradesman offering a ‘free survey’ have taken this much time to investigate the property, where initially no damp proofing was required? We doubt it. For starters, very few damp proofing companies have ever studied timber, and it’s very unlikely they would have recognised the spores. Secondly, they would probably have been out there looking to the next job as soon as the realised no damp proofing was required.

On the other end of the scale, a property in Gateshead was reported to have woodworm in the loft, and damp in the walls. Retention on the property was £5,000 (which means this is what the anticipated cost of works would be). In this case, the seller called us as they had lost a buyer when the report showed this up.

Inspection of the roof timbers revealed the woodworm was in fact Bark Borer – which means treatment was not required (see our Woodworm page). As for the damp – we found an airbrick externally was allowing water into the cavity, which was causing the wall to become damp. Solution – block up the airbrick. Our quote to the client – £0. Would a tradesman offering a ‘free survey’ really have quoted nothing, when there was a seller expecting to pay up to £5,000? We doubt it.

Remember this – you get what you pay for. Would you walk into a car garage and ask for the ‘cheapest car’ or into an electronics shop and ask for the ‘cheapest TV?’ Of course not. As for ‘free surveys’. Does anything in this world really come for free??

I have had several conflicting reports and I don’t know what to believe?

Quite simply, look at the qualifications of each surveyor. Most importantly, look for the CSRT or CSTDB qualification.

‘Approved’ status, such as a contractor who says they are “Approved by X, Y & Z” usually means they are spending enough money with that supplier to get their approved status! Very little, if any vetting is done, and it’s very rare that this can be trusted as any kind of assurance of quality.

Each CSRT qualified surveyor uses his or her knowledge to come up with recommendations, and these can vary slightly. If the variations are significant, ask to meet your surveyor to discuss the report in person or on the telephone. You can usually get a feel for the knowledge and confidence of the surveyor pretty quickly.

If all else fails, the PCA have independent surveyors, who can be employed to carry out a survey, which can help guide you in the right direction. www.propery-care.org

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