There is a considerable amount of confusion online about the topic of rising damp. Some say it does exists, others say it's very rare, while some others categorically deny its existence.

If you have been doing research on how to tackle dampness in old buildings, you probably run into Peter Ward from Heritage House dot org, ending up upsetin disbelief or alarmed by some of his statements and conclusions.

Is everyone out there evil, corrupt and after your money, as part of a big scam - except one man, Peter Ward, who is on a mission to expose it all in order to protect old building owners? Not quite.

Heritage House - A web of lies

The information contained there is the personal opinion of ONE man only who depicts a very sinister story of the UK building and conservation industry.

His whole ideology and website is built upon two fundamental statements - both of them lies. These two statements are: (click on the arrows / toggles for more info)

1. Rising damp, as a phenomenon, doesn't exist.

2. Rising damp has been invented in 1962 by the damp proofing industry with the sole purpose to scam and defraud the general public.

Let's look at both of these statements in a bit more detail and see whether independent, third party data supports or refute these claims.


Statement #1: Rising Damp Doesn't Exist

After an extensive research of the scientific literature, here are some of the many research papers from all over the world, all of them confirming the existence of rising damp, while also highlighting some of the damages it can create in old buildings.

Click on the arrows / toggles below to view more details about each paper.

Rising damp: capillary rise dynamics in walls, 2007

An operative protocol for reliable measurements of moisture in porous materials of ancient buildings, 2006

Rising moisture, salts and electrokinetic effects in ancient masonries: from laboratory testing to on-site monitoring, 2013

Building Dehydration - From Basics to Practical Applications, 2017

Rising damp in two traditional clay-brick masonry walls and influence on heat transfer performance, 2019

More technical papers are listed on our scientific research papers page

Statement #2: Rising Damp has been invented by the damp proofing industry with the sole purpose to defraud the general public

Spending a few hours digging through Google's old books digitization project, I found some relevant historical references dating between 1840 to 1910 which consistently mention rising damp, damp proof courses and various period damp treatment methods.

Click on the arrows / toggles below to reveal more information about each document.

The Builder, Vol. II - 1844

Helps to Health - 1885

A Treatise on Hygiene and Public Health - 1892

Old Cottages, Farm Houses etc. in Cotswold District - 1905

Conclusions

The study of the scientific and historical literature leads us to the following conclusions:

  • Rising damp, as a natural phenomenon, does exist and it's a real problem in old buildings. This has been known and consistently documented since Georgian times. Today's scientific research papers also confirm its existence.

  • Researchers agree upon that rising damp is a complex phenomenon, which despite all modern technical advances, we don't yet fully understand. The research, however, is ongoing.

  • Rising damp can and has been successfully reproduced under laboratory conditions many times - some research papers listed above evidence that fact.

  • Around the 1870s the connection between damp houses and health problems became very clear, As a result a number of health acts have been passed on throughout Britain, among other things addressing the problem of damp dwellings and of rising damp.

  • The need for damp proofing developed as a natural consequence to resolve the problem of damp dwellings - in order to make houses drier, healthier and warmer. The damp proofing industry handles a very real problem - not an imaginary or an invented one.

Today's Damp Proofing Industry

Peter Ward suggests that today's damp proofing industry has no legitimacy, and it has been "invented" with the sole motivation to scam and defraud old building owners. All historical documents confirm that this is not the case.

The fact is that today's damp proofing industry as a whole is not better nor worse than any other industry. It is very similar to any other trades or industries, having both high-quality professionals and "cowboys" alike.

I would use the car industry as a comparison as virtually everyone today drives a car, and thus has first hand experience with car dealerships or car repair shops. Among reputable car repair shops aren't out there "cowboy" repair shops that do a sloppy job, overcharge clients or take advantage of the vulnerable or less knowledgeable? Of course they are. Do these examples make the WHOLE car industry a scam that must be eradicated without any judgement? Of course not.

The Role of Peter Ward - His Real Character

For the past decade Peter Ward has been extremely busy creating and maintaining an ongoing conflict between the following three parties:
  1. The conservation industry
  2. The damp proofing industry, and
  3. Old building owners

Presenting himself as a "conservationist", he has been primarily targeting old building owners (the least knowledgeable group on technical matters, thus the easiest to manipulate), being extremely busy in alienating them from the damp proofing industry. His "black marketing" behind the scenes also resulted in considerable distrust between the fields of building conservation and damp proofing.

He achieved all this by two deceptive statements, presented as self-proclaimed "truths". 

The first statement (that rising damp doesn't exist) is not only a technical falsehood, but he used this as a pretext to go after and destroy the professional reputation of anyone who questions the validity of this statementAny professional voicing publicly that rising damp does exist became his target, as it posed a threat to his shady character. So he took "justice" into his own hands and became busy inventing "facts" or publishing "revealing articles", going to great lengths (in many cases bordering illegal) in his quest of destruction.

His second statement (the "conspiracy theory" of the damp proofing industry, that everything is a large-scale scam) created a lucrative foundation for his deceptive marketing strategy, selling overpriced surveys (£1,000 - 1,500) and telephone consultations (£200). After all, convincing old building owners that everyone out there is a scam and after their money, and they shouldn't trust anyone - except him - is one way (although shady and very reprehensible) to get some attention and make some easy money for a good living, "fishing" in the murky waters of self-generated confusion.

His destructive behavior was not limited to damp proofing companies or technologies, but he published libelous statements about leading heritage organizations, professional groups or individuals, even his own customers. 

Here are some real-world examples of Peter Ward "in action". You are welcome to draw your own conclusions.

Badmouthing his own customers - old building owners

Derogatory statements about RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors)

Derogatory statements about the SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings)

Badmouthing the IHBC (Institute of Historic Buidings Conservation)

Impersonation

A real story: his hate campaign against Core Conservation

Here is a timeline of events on Peter Ward's interaction with Core Conservation.

2018 April - Several attempts to solve the situation peacefully

2018 May - Joint scientific trial project (His own basement)

2019 March - Social media attacks

2019 August - Systematic discreditation campaign

Our Reply

Here is our public reply to him, uncovering his true motives, his business strategy and hate campaigns against the whole building industry.

Then finally, here is a video about the results of the joint trial project, The condition of his cellar 16 months into the project is described by Peter Ward himself.


The TRUE Information & Supporting Scientific Facts About Rising Damp 

As a result, after a significant amount of research onto this subject, we have published extensive information about the TRUE nature of rising damp.

The information presented on the next pages cover the fundamentals of rising damp, both practical and theoretical aspects, supported by latest scientific research from leading universities and researchers all around the world. Most common rising damp myths are also presented and debunked.

Hope you find it interesting and useful while researching and learning more about this vast subject.

For any more information, please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to help.