Article 2 - Condensation or Rising Damp? - Get the diagnosis right!
Differentiating between rising damp and condensation is essential to avoid wasting money.
The formation of condensation on cool surfaces in a property during the cooler winter months between October and March, (the ‘condensation season’) is not unusual, but during this time condensation is often confused with rising damp or other forms of damp.
A common scenario is that a property owner sees some dampness and/or mould and does what he believes to be correct thing and obtains a specialist opinion. He may be fortunate and contact a person with sufficient knowledge but very often the person carrying out the inspection, either through ignorance or the need to sell a service, tells the property owner that a new damp proof course will cure the problem. Twelve months later the same problem is back but this time the same specialist, using the same equipment tells the concerned property owner that the new damp course is fine but the problem is now condensation!
In these circumstances one has to ask how was condensation considered, evaluated and dismissed at the time of the original inspection and if it was, where is the evidence to substantiate the original diagnosis? One should also consider that from the specialist’s point of view this time his visit is a potential guarantee claim whereas previously the opportunity for work existed.
The moisture meter – what does it tell you?
A popular instrument used as an aid in the diagnosis of a damp problem is a surface electric moisture meter. These instruments are simple to use and cause no damage apart from some versions which make small pairs of pinpricks in the surface being tested. When used correctly these instruments are extremely useful as an aid in the diagnosis of a damp problem but it should always be borne in mind that they are very sensitive and it is very important to understand that they do not tell the user where any moisture that is detected actually came from. They do not have different coloured lights that tell the user that the moisture being detected is derived from condensation, rising damp or penetrating damp - they just tell the user that dampness is or is not present - the diagnosis is down to the skill and experience of the user.
Other instruments and procedures are available to check for condensation, the presence of ground salts etc. all of which will help build up a picture of the problem being evaluated that will hopefully enable the surveyor to arrive at the correct diagnosis. Sometimes more in depth investigations are necessary, which requires samples to be taken and moisture and salt profiles to be plotted. This course of action will cause a certain amount of damage and will have cost implications but the result should be correct.
An independent survey – could save you a mess and money
Peter has conducted many surveys during the cooler winter months that proved condensation was the cause of dampness and decorative spoiling - not rising damp. By providing his client with relevant information about condensation and its causes Peter has saved clients from unnecessary disruptive work.
For more information about Peter’s independent survey service click here.