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The myth(?) of rising damp…

Category: Essential information October 18th, 2011 by mbc

…and Rigsby is not in sight…

I was watching an episode of QI the other night when the ‘myth’ of rising damp – or rather, the lack of evidence for the existence of rising damp as a ‘real’ issue, was mentioned. This wasn’t something I’d ever heard of and some further web-based research makes for some interesting reading…

There’s plenty of information on the subject across the web which Google will find for you, I’ll provide a link to one article that demonstrates the venom of the argument between ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’. The Architects Journal carries a post, which you can access by searching in Google with this text – ‘architects journal’ Rising damp is a myth - make sure you read through the readers comments. [architectsjournal.co.uk doesn’t allow deep links to articles, just to the home page – typical closed thinking of the kind I’ve seen a lot of from the architectural community recently..]

From my layman’s reading, it appears that there is little proof that water will rise through a ‘normally’ constructed wall by capillary action and therefore little basis for expecting damp to rise up a wall that hasn’t been protected in any of the normal ways (usually a damp-proof-course). It is often the case that what is diagnosed as rising damp is actually condensation caused by poor heating and ventilation or damp penetrating from exterior raised ground levels or leaking water pipes. As usual with a complex issue, this isn’t as cut-and-dried (sorry!) as some people would like. Personally, I tend toward the middle ground – that rising damp is rare, often misdiagnosed, but can occur given certain specific sets of circumstances.

Additionally, I’ve always been dubious of the usefulness of chemically injected damp proof courses, especially when applied to rubble filled masonry walls like those of the barn and the arguments around this issue confirm my doubts.

…So perhaps, under certain circumstances, rising damp does exist, despite what they say on QI…

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