Dealing with damp FAQs: Dealing with damp
What is a damp-proof course?
The walls of houses generally have a barrier in them to stop rising damp. This is often a horizontal, plastic or slate strip in the wall.
I don’t know what kind of damp I have – what should I do?
If you've had a look at 'What kind of damp is affecting my home?' and can't work out where your damp problem is coming from, you will need some expert advice from a damp-proofing company, independent damp specialist, builder or surveyor.
Before you call out a damp-proofing company, make sure you take a look at 'How much does it cost to repair damp?' to see the results of our undercover investigation which found some damp-proofing companies recommending unnecessary work.
Which? members can find recommended builders, surveyors and specialist damp firms in their area by visiting Which? Local.
Can I get good damp advice from a free survey?
We did see some good practice in our damp-proofing investigation, but overall in two thirds of cases the companies recommended unnecessary or inappropriate treatment, or missed the problem completely, according to our three damp experts.
If you are considering getting a ‘free survey’ done, make sure you get at least three companies to come to your property and quote for the work before you choose the best deal. If there are inconsistencies in the type of work recommended, or if you are concerned that the companies may be recommending unnecessary treatment, consider getting an independent damp specialist to assess your home.
An independent damp specialist will have no vested interest in recommending unnecessary work so can give you an unbiased opinion on what kind of remedial treatment is necessary - however this could cost between £100 and £750.
Is damp-proofing work guaranteed?
Most companies offer a guarantee - find out what's included in the price or available at an extra cost. Property Care Association members may also offer an additional insurance-backed guarantee that will cover you if the company goes bust.
How can I ensure my damp-proof course continues to work?
Generally, a damp proof course should look after itself. However you can avoid causing problems by ensuring the external ground level remains 150mm (6in) below it, preventing bridging it with internal or external plaster coats and ensuring that if any building alterations happen that it’s repaired.
I asked a builder to fix my damp problem. They installed a new damp-proof course at great expense and the damp continues. A new surveyor has told me I have penetrating damp so the work was unnecessary. What should I do?
Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, the service should be provided using ‘reasonable care and skill’. As the work they did was unnecessary they've failed to do this and are therefore in breach of contract. However, you will need to prove that this is the case - this is usually done by involving an expert agreed upon by you and the company to assess whether the work was necessary. If the expert agrees the work was unnecessary you can claim back money spent on the work - you may need to take them to the small claims court to achieve this. For more information see our guide to dealing with dodgy builders.