Damp Detectors

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  • Damp Detectors
  • We’ve put an offer in on a house, only to have the survey flag up potential rising damp and rotten floor joist problems. Bugger. There was no sign of this visually to me – no damp on the walls, and no bouncyness on the floors.

    Depending what happens (how much it’ll cost to sort, whether we can get any money knocked off) it may be that we run away from this house. If so, is it worth buying a damp detector for future viewings? Obviously we’d still be getting a survey done, but if it shows up damp initially it might stop us before getting that far, and surveys ain’t cheap.

    TL;DR: Damp detectors. Any use?


    If you’re serious about the house get a second opinion from an expert.

    The surveyors list anything and everything. Who did your survey? The bank or a company that also handily specialises in damp repair?

    Premier Icon footflaps

    All surveyors flag up everything on all surveys. My house had rising damp on the survey, right next to a leaking shower tray. Shower tray fixed and miraculously the rising damp vanished at exactly the same time……

    The surveyor is an independent one recommended by the solicitor where my Mrs works, so they should be pretty reliable I guess. We’re now getting a quote from a (separate) company that specialises in such things.


    Worth having a chat to the surveyor and ask if it’s something you should be worried about.

    Premier Icon nickjb

    We’re now getting a quote from a (separate) company that specialises in such things

    specialises in surveys or in damp proof treatments? If it is the latter I can tell you what they will find now. The industry is more than a little dodgy. Footflaps has it. Most damp has a pretty straightforward cause.

    Premier Icon footflaps

    so they should be pretty reliable I guess

    They have to cover themselves so flag up anything and everything.

    A bit of joist rot under the floor is quite common if the air bricks have been blocked. Not a big job to fix, maybe £200-£300.

    Premier Icon gibber

    From someone who bought a damp house thats now a dry house – damp detectors are gash. They don’t measure damp, just conductivity. So if its an old house with crazy wall coverings (lead paint, metallic wallpaper) the readings make no sense.

    If its an old house (sounds like it if its got wooden floors) best £20 I spent was on the Haynes Victorian House Manual. Lots of cheaper stuff to fix before someone squirts polymer into weak bricks and really does some structural damage.

    Ours was all little cracks and holes that had filled up the walls over many years: crack in the roof render, no cover on the chimney, small crack in render covering big crack in bricks in the kitchen, badly capped old piping. Roof was £1.5k because I’m not one for heights & so got them to do the whole lot to prevent any future surprises. Other bits were all done in 1-2 days.

    Most of the front room was rotten, so rip out the joists, put in £60 worth of treated timber (plus damp membrane on the ends & extra coat of 5-in-1 treatment £50) & screw back down. Dried out nicely now. The old lime plaster, floorboards and bricks have no lasting damage.

    Note that surveyors are NOT allowed to move or damage anything, so they can’t look under floors, poke walls etc. Best bet is to take a builder round to quote who’s done similar properties in the same street. All our issues have happened/happening to our neighbours.

    Cheers guys, that’s all really helpful advice. I’m not the most handy fellow in the world, but I have a few good mates who are, so hopefully should be able to sort most of it fairly well.

    Good shout about the air bricks – had a look at the front and, sure enough they’re blocked. The house also already has a damp course, so hopefully it should all be sortable.

    And yeah, it is an old terraced house!

    What gibber says basically. We had a few chaps round to look at a couple of the walls as we knew they were damp. Quotes ended up varying from one chap who said we had damp in one corner of one room and wanted £750 to another bloke who said every outside wall was damp and all chimney breasts as well, he wanted £3500. All were told to bog off.

    Looked into it further, airbricks blocked, slightly dodgy guttering and a badly placed flower bed. Fixed all those and jobs a good un, just got some rotten flooring to replace and it’s sorted.

    Premier Icon Cougar

    Most rising damp is fictitious.

    The little damp meters surveyors poke into walls are designed for wood, not walls; their results are at best erroneous and almost certainly scaremongering.

    Old Houses require different approaches from modern ones. If that’s what you’re dealing with, seek out someone who knows this.

    Search the forum – this question has cropped up many times.

    The whole situation is a big con, I’ve been stung on both the selling and buying aspect and the only winner is the damp specialists.

    Speak to the seller and explain that you are dubious, and see if they will go halves on an independent survey…i.e. one you have to pay for, not a free sales visit from a damp firm.

    Important to speak to the seller I think to ensure you both understand that it will be an impartial survey.


    Don’t worry too much about it, its usually soil piled up against the exterior wall higher than the floor joists or a leaky down pipe. At the very worst you may need to dig a French drain around the base of the exterior wall Just cut out the old timber and replace. It should only cost you a bit of labour and materials.

    If it was me i would potentially use it a a negotiating tool get a few quotes and get the seller to reduce their price, then do it yourself.

    If its an old house whatever you do don’t go for the sales pitch from some damp specialist who offers to give you some bollox injected DPC. Old houses just need to breathe!


    Might not be something to worry about, but unfortunately the mortgage company often put retention on the loan until its fixed, which means you may not be able to move unless the sellers are willing to negotiate. We had a purchase fall through and also a sale where we had to drop the price and go halves over a non-existent problem.

    The survey we had done was in independent structural survey, not a damp firm. The mortgage is fine, their survey (as far as I can tell) went as far as looking at the house, seeing there was nothing obviously falling off and saying “yup, that’s fine”.

    Sounds like the best plan from here is to make sure the air bricks are freed up, possibly move the decking at the back (which is probably covering air bricks) and have a good poke round under the floor and replace / treat where needed, then see how it fares over summer.

    OK, often the case that the mortgage firms ‘home buyer’ survey flags up a minor issue and at that point you are bound to get it looked into to satisfy the mortgage company, and at that point you decide whether to go for the damp firm or independent.

    Thanks again guys – done a bit of googling round the issue which has given me basically the same advice.

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