Just like with any other product or services, the Aquapol system has also been subject to some negative reviews or criticism online, Due to the nature of the internet this is unavoidable - anyone can post any opinion online - positive or negative - whether true or not.
Some of the critics, especially on online forums, question the technical background or scientific principles of the product. Although the product caters to the building industry, it is nevertheless an electronic product. As a passive antenna system, it uses high frequency technology to reduce capillary action inside the walls and thus permanently solves rising damp. This is a special field of electronics and although in our guide we published a simplified working principle, it requires some technical knowledge to understand how the system works.
Heritage House Review
The other criticism is from the Heritage House building restoration website run by Peter Ward, a well-known building professional. Earlier this year he published an article calling Aquapol the latest damp scam. This article was published based on a quotation we gave to a client who was about to restore a fairly large listed building and the existence of damp was also a major concern.
The interesting part is, Peter published this article WITHOUT ever reaching out to us for any information or clarification, nor notifying us or the client about the article. I called the client shortly thereafter and he was very surprised and shocked about the circumstances in which the article was published.
The Heritage House website is a major platform against the UK damp proofing industry as a whole, specializing in exposing the "sins" of the damp proofing industry and rising damp related "cons" - as Peter calls them. Peter is one of the leading advocates behind the "rising damp doesn't exist" philosophy.
After his critical article, I met Peter in person and we had a good long professional conversation. I must admit, after we "broke the ice", I enjoyed the conversation; we went into a lot of technical details about:
- Rising damp, its mechanism, whether it exists or not
- Movement of moisture in old buildings
- Damp meters, how they work, pros and cons
- Building diagnosis techniques
- Some material science
- Best practices
- Difficult building cases and ways to handle dampness in them
- etc. etc.
It was a long professional conversation from which I learnt quite a few things from Peter. He pointed out a few things and made me look at some of the phenomena with a "fresh" pair of eyes assuming a different viewpoint, including the existence of rising damp.
Does Rising Damp Exist?
Let's take the problem of rising damp, for example. They say rising damp is the result of capillary action. Capillary action can be easily demonstrated with thin glass tubes in which water rises instantly - the thinner the glass tube the higher water rises. This classroom experiment is then used in the building industry to justify the presence of rising damp in old buildings. While capillarity is a valid phenomenon, moisture does not rise in buildings like that, for at least 2 reasons:
- Buildings are not standing in liquid water as capillary tubes do in the experiment.
- Building materials are porous while glass is not. Glass behaves differently from mortar: there is no evaporation, it has smooth regular walls etc.
Based on this conversation, I realized that Peter does not question at all the validity of capillarity or natural/physical phenomena but the ignorance behind the subject. At that point I remembered what I read some while ago in a German building textbook, detailing various moisture transport mechanisms and how rising damp develops. I showed the original German text to Peter and he totally agreed with it. Quite interestingly, despite all my efforts,
Peter, on his site, also heavily criticizes damp meters - resistance meters - also known as Protimeter type pin or prong meters. These are an old technology, initially developed to measure the moisture content of wood. These meters can only measure the surface conductivity of materials and have no depth penetration, so not suitable for diagnosing rising damp. Since then, two newer generations of meters have been developed:
- Capacitance meters: which have a 30-50 mm depth penetration, which is kind of becoming the standard in the UK, and
- Microwave meters: the latest technology, which have 200-500 mm depth penetration and work on the principle of ground penetrating radar.
We have been using microwave type damp meters for about 4 years now. We never used old-style pin or prong meters as we are well aware of their limitations. You can read more about this here on our web site.
Aquapol Trial with Peter Ward
Anyway, to keep it short, towards the end of our discussion, Peter also mentioned his own cellar, which was damp despite all measures undertaken and despite having a professional bi-directional ventilation system installed. I looked at it and I estimated that an Aquapol system could further improve the cellar. However some additional pointing work would also be needed to stop some of the sideways water penetration which I spotted on certain areas.
Peter was receptive to the idea and a few days later, we have installed an Aquapol system in his cellar, which has been in now for a few months. We initially estimated that it would take 1.5 to 2 years to reach equilibrium levels with a gradual decrease of the moisture content.
Here are some pictures of the cellar, installation and measurements taken:
Now, the critical article is still up online in its original form with no indication of any of the above, despite me politely asking Peter to remove it or update it with new information after our conversation.
Because we are being constantly asked about it and it is affecting our professional reputation, I felt necessary to add this to his story.
In closing, some information about the work we do: we have been operating in the UK since 2013. We are monitoring long-term about 150 live projects in the UK, many of them listed buildings where invasive damp proofing measures are not an option. During the past few years we have done a lot of hands-on research on damp, collecting live data from a lot of buildings, monitoring the dehydration of various materials according to the highest standards over several years until the air-dry or equilibrium level is reached.
Although there are several building research organizations in the UK, I am not aware of any of them doing this type of work on such a high number of buildings for such an extended period. We specialize in this and the research is ongoing.
We are not perfect, no one is. We make occasional mistakes but we take full responsibility and correct them promptly to our clients' satisfaction and do whatever it takes to make things go right.
For any more information, please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to help you.