Tag: damp-proofing

With the long-range weather forecast predicting a cold November and possible snow, we’ve come up with a checklist of DOs and DON’Ts in preparation for the winter weather, including tips from some of our expert tradesmen.

GAS

DO review your fuel options

MyBuilder tradesman Tom Paterson, of Paterson Heating and Plumbing Services in the West Midlands, has started to heat his house with solid fuel (wood) due to the escalating cost of natural gas, although he still uses gas for cooking and hot water. He’s not the only one switching over from gas either, with many of his customers turning to solid fuel to keep their homes warm and costs down. We’d be interested to hear from other people who have done the same.

DON’T keep turning on the heating

Turning off the heating during the day is a commonly used tactic to save on the gas bill. The suprising bit is that it doesn’t always work. When you let your home get cold during the day, your boiler has to work extremely hard to get it back up to a comfortable temperature, and may end up over compensating and using up the same amount of energy that you saved during the day. And don’t underestimate the tendency of family members to get frustrated with the cold house and crank up the heating when it suits them. You might be better off keeping the thermostat at 17-19 degrees and maintaining a warm house throughout the whole day. To find out whether this works best for your home, it’s easy to run a test and measure usage.


ROOFING

DO get your roof checked

To avoid winter leaks, get an expert to check for broken, missing or slipped tiles. According to Garry Connor, an experienced roofer based in Cheshire, one of the most common sources of winter leaks are ridge tiles that have come apart, allowing water to seep into the roof line. Another key place a specialist will look at is the flashing round the chimney stack, as it can lift up or tear and expose the joint to the elements.

DON’T go clambering on your roof

Roofers use specialist equipment including purpose-built ladders, scaffolding and cherry pickers. Given that you can’t do a proper roof inspection from the ground, it is more sensible and safer to let the experts (who are insured and trained) get up there and give you their informed opinion.

winterdosanddonts

CHIMNEYS AND FIREPLACES

DO buy wood from a reputable seller

With gas prices on the rise and woodburners making a big comeback, there’s plenty of opportunity for unscrupulous log sellers to try and offload poor quality fuel. Get a moisture meter (you should be able to pick one up for less than £20) and check the moisture content in your logs before you use them – if it’s over 20% you need to leave them to dry out. A bona fide log supplier will only sell properly seasoned wood.

DON’T burn unseasoned or damp wood

Chimney and fireplace specialist Courtney Gibbs warns that burning damp wood can create a tar that sticks to the flue, potentially causing a blockage and putting you at risk of a chimney fire. If the window on your wood burner turns black, the chances are that your wood is too wet or you have a problem with your flue.


DAMP PROOFING

DO clear your drains

Make sure there are no leaves or debris clogging up your drains, guttering and down-pipes advises Dean Webster of South East Timber and Damp. It’s important to get water away from your property because if it hangs around, you risk developing a problem with damp.

DON’T overlook your brickwork

Pointing should be checked for cracks where water could seep in. Keep an eye out for signs of spalling on your brickwork. Spalling occurs when moisture has got into the brick and the freezing and thawing process causes it to flake.


PLUMBING

DO insulate exposed pipework and tanks in lofts

Berkshire-based plumber Kevin Parsons was brought up in Edmonton, Canada where temperatures can fall as low as minus 25 degrees. He knows the importance of insulating all pipework; back home in Canada electrically charged lagging is used to counteract freezing temperatures. It is now available in the UK but foam insulation lagging wrap is more generally used, and is highly effective as long as joints and corners are well covered.

DON’T ignore that dripping tap

Changes in temperature cause pipes to expand and contract, and joints can become loose. However, leaky pipes may not be immediately visible or accessible so keep an eye out for evidence of watermarks on walls and ceilings and act quickly if you spot anything. Something as simple as a dripping tap could be the sign of something more severe!

At MyBuilder, even though we have approved hundreds of thousands of jobs over the years, we still come across jobs when it is not clear which type of tradesman should be working on the project. Sometimes the whole job could be done just as well by professionals across different trades; for other jobs, several individuals across different trades may be needed to complete the work.

See if you know which type of tradesman could do the following:

– Who fits a power shower – a bathroom fitter, electrician or plumber?

– You want some new garden decking to be built, who can build the decking for you?

– You see mould growing on the walls of your bedroom – who do you call?

You can find out the answers below; see how many you can get out of the 13 in total!

Fitting a power shower – Replacing an old or broken power shower is actually just a small plumbing job, since the electrics are already there. However, if there isn’t an existing power shower and one is being fitted for the first time, you do need an electrician or a plumber who is part P certified (to do the electrics).

Window sills – if you had to replace any windows, you would ask for a window fitter to do the job. But what about the window sills? Damage to window sills, especially for older properties is common and can easily ruin the appearance of a house. It does depend on the property, as if the window sills are made from brick, a bricklayer is probably the most skilled tradesman in this instance to undertake the work. If the window sill is made from wood, a joiner could be the better option as they can replace the old and potentially damaged wood; or it could be a stonemason if the window sills are made from stone. If the windows need to be replaced then it could be a job for a window fitter, who would look at replacing the whole area and can find the relevant tradesmen to work on the project as a whole.

Kitchen worktops – it might be too expensive to have a brand new kitchen fitted, so instead you just want to change the kitchen worktops, especially if they’ve been scratched and a bit worn after years of use. Although kitchen fitters can fit various types of kitchen worktops, carpenters are equally skilled and competent enough to do the installation – it is not uncommon for kitchen fitters to have experience as carpenters.

solid-wood-worktop-mjwoodgate

UPVC doors – if you want new UPVC windows fitted, you would call upon a window fitter. But what about UPVC doors? For normal internal doors, carpenters are skilled enough to be able to hang them at the right height so they do not scrape the floor or have a large gap between the door and the floor or ceiling. However, fitting UPVC doors can be quite different, and so we recommend using a window fitter, as there are similarities when fitting UPVC doors to fitting UPVC windows, but do check with them first.

Floor tiling – if you want tiles laid e.g. on your bathroom or kitchen floor, it can be tricky to decide between a flooring fitter or a tiler. Whilst flooring fitters may know how to lay tiles, it is more likely that a tiler will know how to tile a floor so that it looks immaculate!

porcelain-tiling-mtctiling

Flashing (weatherproofing) can be tricky as it could utilise the skills of a roofer or a chimney specialist, especially if the area to be worked on is in and around a chimney stack. The answer for which tradesman should be used is not straightforward, however roofers are likely to be a good first port of call, who may involve chimney specialists if needed.

Garden decking – often gardeners can work on most aspects of the garden, including fencing, but what about decking? Some landscape gardeners can build decking, but can often also be done by builders and carpenters. Our suggestion is to put garden decking jobs for landscape gardeners, as not only will they possibly be able to do it themselves (and if they can’t they will probably know someone who can), but they can help with the design and implementation in conjunction with the rest of the garden.

garden-decking-thegardensaint

Damp proofing – this may seem obvious, if the property is suffering from damp issues, then you should call a damp proofing specialist. But the question should be “Is it really an issue with damp?” It is common that condensation issues are easily confused with damp penetration, and so the easiest and cheapest solution is to try and address the cause. Some of these can be solved by relatively straightforward solutions such as allowing more ventilation into the property (e.g. opening windows), and hence don’t necessarily need the skills of a damp proofing specialist.

Laminate flooring – flooring such as laminate and vinyl come in various forms, so it’s not as straightforward as carpet fitting for example, which obviously would utilise the skills of a carpet fitter. Who lays laminate flooring depends on the type of laminate – if it is the type which is rolled out, then there are similarities to carpet fitting, and hence a carpet fitter is likely to be able to lay the laminate. If the laminate is more like pieces which are cut out and pieced together, then a flooring fitter is probably more suited for this job.

Gas boilers – we’ve had questions asked to MyBuilder, such as what should be done if the timer for a heating system (e.g. central heating, oil) no longer works correctly. The best bet is to call out a (central) heating engineer, who should have the relevant parts to work on the boiler if needed.

Handymen – handymen are all-rounders and due to this stereotype, sometimes the smaller jobs are assigned to handymen in the belief that “it’s only a little job”. Sometimes, this may be the case, but remember that even for smaller jobs, it may require a level of skill and expertise suited for someone who works in that specific trade day-in day-out. One example includes fitting a curtain rail – on the face of it, the job can look quite straightforward, but if it involves getting involved with the brickwork or plaster, then could involve the expertise of a carpenter and joiner.

Lastly, a few slightly less common ones we’ve seen at MyBuilder, but relevant nonetheless!

skylight-skywardservices

Install a skylight – although there elements of skylights that builders could do, this should really be a job for a qualified roofer. Not only can it have an impact for building control, but there are elements such as ventilation and insulation that need to be adequately addressed.

Taking out a jacuzzi bath – to remove a standard bathtub, a plumber would usually suffice; but for a jacuzzi, do you also need an electrician? It’s advisable to have both, or a plumber who is suitably qualified to work with electrics in the bathroom. If the plumber doesn’t have the skills themselves, they will often know someone who has!

MyBuilder talks to Annabelle Webster of South East Timber and Damp

Damp proofer at work

During certain damp works you may expect a small amount of mess and disruption to your home.


When would I need to call a damp proof specialist?
You might need a full Timber and Damp survey prior to purchasing a property or if you have a specific damp or timber issue that requires an inspection.

What does a survey involve?
To carry out a full damp report, the surveyor will need to take moisture readings from all internal and external walls. Heavy items may need to be pulled away from walls ahead of the visit to allow for access.

Before a full timber inspection can be carried out, carpets must be pulled back and floorboards lifted to allow the surveyor to inspect the timbers below. Loft areas should  be accessible and cleared of items to allow a full inspection. If the property is occupied, a limited inspection may only be possible.

If remedial timber or damp works have been carried out in the last 20 years, certification documents will help the surveyor determine if any of the works have failed.

How much mess and disruption can I expect?
If the work involves removing internal plaster and render from the walls then dust is unavoidable. Covering furniture and taping doors shut will help somewhat, but dust carries in the air and will settle in all rooms. Timber treatments can also be disruptive.  We would always suggest rooms are cleared and not used during and after works for a few hours to allow the air to clear.

Should I expect you to be a member of a trade body?
If you are looking for a specialist damp proofing or remedial timber treatments company, we recommend that you choose a full time member of the Property Care Association. PCA members have passed a series of stringent checks, and are regularly audited on health & safety procedures, complaints handling, training and much more. Members are also required to abide by high standards with certified surveyors in place.

Can I expect your work to be guaranteed?
All our specialist remedial works are guaranteed unless specified in the surveyor’s report.  As a PCA member, we can also offer a limited insurance policy to cover the guarantee. If a PCA company ceases trading and the works fail, another PCA contractor will carry out the works under the guarantee.

A “guarantee” can be printed by any firm. If the contractor goes out of business though, or if the works fail and the contractor refuses to return, their guarantee is worthless. We regularly get called in to assess failed damp works because the original contractor no longer operates and the guarantee cannot be honoured.

Are there any common scams or cowboy behaviour I should look out for?
There are some basic checks that you should carry out before choosing a damp proofing contractor:

  • Research the contractor online and read any feedback that has been written about them.
  • Be wary if a contractor ONLY has mobiles and 0800 numbers or does not have an office address.
  • Look out for “post box” addresses in central London or local towns as these may be mail drop addresses.  Ask if the contractor has an office you can visit.

Do you provide an estimate or a quote?
An estimate is an educated guess at what a job may cost – it is not binding, however.  In this case you may receive several estimates covering various scenarios.

We provide a fixed quotation which cannot be changed once accepted by the customer. This quotation relates to the report which clearly specifies the exact works that are to be carried out along with a sketch plan of the area.

In the damp proofing industry we generally work to quotations and specify the exact works that we would carry out.  Additional works may be needed that could not be accounted for at the time of quoting. Extras will be appended to the report and quoted as a variation. Generally the quotation will have an expiry date.

Do I need to pay a deposit? What about money for materials?
As a rule of thumb, we ask for a 25% deposit upon acceptance of the works. Deposits allow the contractor to cover some of the initial material costs.  For waterproofing works, this could amount to thousands of pounds of materials that need to be pre-ordered. If you hand over any money, you should either have signed an acceptance form detailing the agreed quote or received a receipt detailing the monies paid.

How do you take your tea?
Lots and mine’s strong, no sugar!

If you are a tradesman or tradeswoman and have a view or topic you’d like to share then please contact us.

Rising Damp DVD

Finding a patch of damp on the living room wall or having a survey come back identifying damp in the basement can be worrying for any householder. Damp and damp proofing are subjects that we hope we never have to engage with and ones that the average homeowner knows little about. After all, most of us will have heard of a damp proof course, but many don’t know whether that is a treatment that can solve our problem or a programme of lessons for builders.

How can I tell if I have a damp problem that requires damp proofing?
Visible signs of damp or mould on the walls, as well as walls feeling wet and cold, are all signs of damp. But don’t panic, as not all causes of damp are complex or costly to repair. It is far better to contact one of our damp proofing experts and get the problem checked than to leave it to get worse. Our review system means that our damp proofing experts can be trusted to carry out the work to the highest standards and undertake only the work that needs doing to deal with your damp problem.

The causes of damp can be broken down into three main categories. These are penetrating damp, damp caused by condensation and rising damp. A damp proofing professional should be able to swiftly identify which one is causing your damp problem. Most of the damp proofing experts registered with MyBuilder will assess your damp problem for free and will then offer you a quote for the necessary repairs.

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