Damp-proofing companies exposed in Which? investigationDon’t be misled into buying treatment you don’t need

13 December 2011

Damp Meter

Households could be spending hundreds of pounds on unnecessary damp-proofing treatment, according to Which? research.

Which? invited 11 damp-proofing companies – including Peter Cox, Rentokil, Kenwood, Lifecote, Timberwise and ProTen - to two houses with a total of three potential damp problems.

These visits were then analysed by three damp-proofing experts, who found that in two thirds of cases the companies recommended unnecessary or inappropriate treatment, or missed the problem completely.

Which? Home editor Liz Edwards said: ‘We were alarmed at the number of visits that fell short of what our experts deemed to be acceptable. Some companies were recommending treatment that cost hundreds of pounds but our experts judged it completely unnecessary.’

Unnecessary treatment recommended

In our snapshot survey, five of the 11 damp companies that visited the first property recommended completely unnecessary treatment according to the experts – some costing as much as £1,440 – when they essentially should have suggested getting a plumber to fix a leak.

In the second property, only two of the 11 companies recommended a suitable solution for the penetrating damp problem in the hallway. Also in this property five companies failed to notice the likely damp penetration/rising damp problem at the front of the house. Of those that did identify it, only four recommended a suitable treatment.

Timberwise failed to offer us good advice on any of these problems and charged us £144 per property for the pleasure of receiving its bad advice. All the other surveys were free.

Damp company scores

The overall scores for the biggest companies (how many occasions they gave good advice) were as follows:

  • Peter Cox 2/3
  • Rentokil 2/3
  • Kenwood 1/3
  • Lifecote 1/3
  • ProTen 1/3
  • Timberwise 0/3

Around half of the companies that visited the properties are members of the Property Care Association (PCA) - the largest trade body for the damp-proofing industry.

When Which? reported the most concerning findings to the PCA, it said it would undertake a full investigation and take appropriate action.

How to get good damp advice

Liz Edwards advises: ‘Before you consider calling out a damp-proofing company, take a look at our guide to dealing with damp which can help you identify what type of damp your home is suffering from and whether it's likely to need specialist damp-proofing treatment.

‘If you go for the free survey option, it's important to get at least three companies to assess your home and quote for the work. If there are any inconsistencies in the work recommended, consider calling in an independent damp specialist, since they won’t have a vested interest in recommending work. This kind of specialist advice costs between £100 and £750.’

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