Expert damp surveys
Our team were busy today; in Leeds for another Continuing professional development (CPD), event. The goal being to help more surveyors carry out successful and expert damp surveys. CPD events benefit everyone by keeping surveyors and engineers up to date. As specialist contractors we are constantly challenged on site after site, with a wide range of clients both commercial and residential. By sharing new ideas, revised methods we’ve discovered and, going over basics too, we all grow in expertise. We also have lots of fun.
These events are designed to share our expert knowledge with fellow built environment professionals from across Yorkshire. Around 50 structural engineers and surveyors were in attendance for the morning.
Three CPD presentations were delivered:
- The Evolution of Damp diagnosis
- The use of Lime Mortars and natural materials in conserving historic buildings and,
- A further talk on structural repairs and wall tie failure (This presentation is described in detail on our Brick-Tie web site).
Vapour permeable lime mortars
We were delighted to welcome Mark Womersley of Womersleys Limited to the day. Mark delivered a fascinating presentation on lime mortars. Mark is a vastly experienced specialist who first introduced us to lime based traditional materials back in the 1990’s. His firm supply a wide range of natural materials for use in old buildings and new ones too. He is passionate about these materials and he knows them inside out.
Vapour permeability and the ability to cope with differential movements are two of the most sought after benefits of these products. Mark was able to point out how this occurs and explain why these attributes are becoming more important. His talk was well received and the slides were super. Stand out sections included shots of really heavy duty projects like locks and mills, which are entirely built with lime. These grand structures have stood the test of time in all weathers. He pointed out that there are natural limes for every situation; lighthouses in the Irish Sea included “So there’s no problem with using lime on that gable in Huddersfield” he quipped…
Experts damp surveys are about more than using the latest technology or fancy equipment. Traditional houses need special care. Many modern materials will cause irreparable damage if they are specified incorrectly. In order to meet all our clients needs, whatever age of house they live in, we need experts like Mark to help and guide us.
We are grateful to Mark. His presentation opened a few eyes to the benefits of lime mortars and was very well received. We buy our natural and traditional building materials from Mark. he also helps us with technical support and training, including hot lime selection and application.
The evolution of damp diagnosis
Bryan delivered the two other sessions. First up was ‘The Evolution of damp diagnoses’. This was broken down to five sections, taking the attendees through how our housing stock and standards of living have changed. He illustrated how these changes have impacted on our houses. This also set the scene, as his aim was to demonstrate why those undertaking expert damp surveys need wider and greater skills, to meet new challenges.
In particular Bryan outlined how a surveyor needs to take into account things, which may not have been thought important years ago. He used images from real surveys to demonstrate the cause and effect between heating, moisture production and ventilation. He covered the importance of mechanical ‘controlled’ ventilation and took the ‘class’ through his methodology for visual and ‘technical’ appraisal of the internal environment. One slide asked “Since when did we look to see if there were gaps under doors to aid cross-flow ventilation” – answers on a postcard please?
The importance of accurate testing of mechanical extract fans was demonstrated. For example a bathroom extract fan was shown holding a tissue in place via the suction produced – yet when tested on site it was found to have a flow rate of only 2.1l/s. This is 15% of the 15l/s building regulations (Approved document part F) require for that type of fan, when used in a bathroom. Bryan’s advice, on using a tissue to test if a fan works is “Don’t do it”. Our calibrated anemometers and state of the art Observator Diff was on hand for inspection.
Electronic moisture meters can be the cause of many errors on site. Bryan shared his in-depth knowledge of how these meters can be both beneficial and yet misleading. Moreover; he demonstrated how training can ensure surveyors find meters useful, rather than an expensive liability. Thermography and a more forensic approach to damp diagnosis were covered too; ensuring delegates were fully aware of what is available to inform them on site, or via a lab. This included the combined use of hygrometers with thermal imaging; gravimetric testing to BRE 245 and salt analysis.
Afterward Bryan asked a single question derived from each of the three talks. A bottle of Champagne was taken away by each of those who answered correctly.
Teamwork for the good of all.
We build relationships with professionals whenever we can. Two of the UK’s most progressive and innovative companies were on hand to help us out. We were delighted to welcome John Bradley, Head of Residential sales for ELTA group limited and Robert Deary of Safeguard Europe. John brought a display of ELTA’s innovative air quality control equipment, including their remarkable heat retaining ‘push-pull’ extract system. He also displayed ELTA’s Positive Input Ventilation system. The new PIV equipment includes intelligent sensor technology, allowing the unit to adjust performance to deliver the right amount of drier air; changing fan speed dependent on measured vapour pressure – brilliant! We specify, supply and commission ELTA products in accordance with ‘The Domestic Ventilation Compliance guide’.
Robert displayed Safeguard’s class leading range of products including Stormdry water repellent cream; DryZone DPC cream, and the mould breaking DryRod DPC system. DryRod is a favourite of ours these days, bringing super quality control and effectiveness to higher levels than ever before. We are very lucky to have associations with both ELTA and Safeguard. Their support is wonderful and they share our passion for great customer service and high quality material.
A big thank you goes to all those who attended the event. We look forward to the next one….
These sessions showcase our knowledge and our commitment to getting answers right. When there is a problem with a building we do not ask “What can we get out of this?” The question in our mind is “What is going wrong and what needs to be done to put matters right for our client?”
There’s a big difference between the outcome from these two questions and this underpins why our reputation is so good. Commercial and residential customers have discovered why our fellow built environment professionals are eager to take time-out to come and share time with us. They are busy people, so attendance shows they value knowledge and want to improve their own – just like us.
Below is a poster of the firms and individuals who attended this event – please support them if you can.