Free Damp Proofing Advice - Frequently Asked Questions
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Past questions and answers
Question: Why do you have to remove the existing plaster when installing a new damp proof course when the plaster looks in sound condition?
Answer: Removal of the plaster in necessary as it is likely to contain ground salts such as chlorides and nitrates as a result of the rising damp. The salts are hygroscopic which means that the have the ability to absorb moisture from the atmosphere so in times of high humidity the walls will continue to appear damp. Replacing the plaster removes this risk and re plastering with a special salt retardant system will prevent any residual salts in the brickwork from migrating into the finish coat plaster after the rising damp has been cured.
Question: I have a damp spot on an external wall in my property, I have tried everything possible but it keeps coming back, would there be anything that would get rid of this problem for good?
Answer: The damp problem you describe could be rectified for good as long as the source of the problem is correctly identified first. It is essential to have an experienced surveyor look at any damp related problem, this prevents incorrect diagnosis as well as unnecessary, costly works being carried out for no reason.
Question: I have a terraced house in Newcastle upon Tyne, which was built 1901, my problem is that the house sweats; this causes mould and rotting floors and walls. How do I stop this?
Answer: Houses built in the Edwardian period over 100 years ago were all solidly constructed with coal fires for heating, open flue chimneys, sash windows and lots of draughts and natural ventilation. Modern building techniques including, blocking up the chimney, installing central heating, double glazing and draught proofing, as well as adding showers and modern kitchens. Outside we’ve added modern patios which often block up the original ground floor air vents.
The result is that the property will be effectively to well-sealed, a bit like a tupperware box, more often than not condensation becomes a problem and this can affect the sub-floor area, wet rot in joists and floorboards is common. Worse still, dry rot could result.
You need to address the issue of ventilation and increasing air circulation in your property. Black mould is a tell-tale sign and a warning to take action before things get worse and start to cost you a lot of money to correct.
Question: We are in the process of buying an old Victorian end terraced house in Durham, we’ve had a free damp and timber survey done by a local company.
We have had the report back and it doesn’t sound too good. Tests showed high levels of rising damp on the front bay window, gable wall of front room, areas of both internal/external walls of the rear room and all walls in the kitchen.
As well as dry rot in the front room, he also picked up on the kitchen floor having no damp proof course which is causing problems. Woodworm treatment is also needed throughout the whole ground floor and loft. He has quoted us on damp proofing which is insert chemical damp proof course to all ground floor walls, remove/replace the complete living room floor, dig up and replace kitchen floor, spray whole house for woodworm and provide guarantee cover for all works.
As we know nothing about this sort of works we are worried that we may being taking for a ride? Also do you think companies that do free surveys add on extra costs?? Is there a cheaper way of doing this? Please help, we need your advice! Thanks
Answer: Unfortunately we are not able to comment upon damp proofing surveys carried out by other damp proofing companies since we have not seen the property. I would definitely recommend that you should get more than one opinion – three at least. It does sound like a lot of work though, try to get a contractor who has been trained to Property Care Association standards and is experienced in carrying out damp proofing surveys.
Free damp and timber surveys are always speculative and they naturally will be enthusiastic in their diagnosis and remedy, since this is how they earn their living. More often than not, free damp proof surveys end up with costly and unnecessary work being recommended.
Independent damp and timber surveys, such as those provided by us, often save money as they avoid unnecessary work and give you an honest appraisal of the property. Whatever faults are found in the property should be negotiated off the asking price or your offer price. Its accepted to re-adjust your offer based upon the cost of work necessary – this is the norm.
A sensible option is to engage the services of an independent specialist surveyor who does not have a vested interest in what is found. There is usually a modest fee to pay, which varies from company to company, but should be in the region of £80.00 to £150.00. More often than not, this saves a lot of money in the long run as it avoids unnecessary and costly work.