Rising damp is a myth, says former RICS chief
Stephen Boniface, former chairman of the construction arm of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), has told the institute’s 40,000 members that ‘true rising damp’ is a myth and chemically injected damp-proof courses (DPC) are ‘a complete waste of money’.
In response, the RICS has put the term ‘rising damp’ in inverted commas in its latest factsheet – according to Boniface, as a ‘non-subtle hint’ to its members.
‘The most likely causes of damp are moisture penetration and, most commonly, condensation,’ said Boniface in an interview with NBS Learning Channels (click here to view).
In response, Elaine Blackett-Ord, chair of the Register of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation, has also spoken out against rising damp, saying it was as rare as ‘rocking-horse shit’.
Blackett-Ord said:‘’This self-perpetuating industry is believed to be worth over £200 million per year.’
’Not only are chemically injected DPCs a waste of time, they are ineffective and grossly expensive. [Installing] damaging impermeable cement based internal renders…serve simply to conceal the problem in the wall behind. For most historic buildings this is extremely damaging and irreversible.’
Jeff Howell, a qualified bricklayer and author of The Rising Damp Myth (2008) said trials in the laboratory confirm the falsehood.
‘If you build a brick pillar and stand it in a tray of water, the bricks in the water will get wet, but the water doesn’t rise by capillary action,’ said Howell. ‘Cement-based and most lime-based mortars will not
allow water to go through.’
However not everyone is convinced. Terry Brown, of GMW Architects, said: ‘It’s right to question the diagnostic skills of commercial damp proofing firms, but to state categorically there is no such thing as rising damp undermines a whole litany of rules of brickwork detailing I’ve adhered to all my professional life.
‘Of course there is no reason why inherited conventional wisdom shouldn’t be challenged. [But] the challenge has to be scientific and not anecdotal.’