Hidden dangers in historic damp proofing

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There are a number of buildings across Teesside which appear to have very effective damp proofing in place. In many cases, it will have been installed many years ago, and the property owners will tell you that they’ve never had a problem with it. However, we would always urge those with longstanding damp proofing measures in their homes to have it inspected, no matter how effective it may currently seem to be. It could be that the materials used to make it so effective are posing a hidden danger to those using the building.

In this day and age, most of us are aware of the great danger posed by asbestos and the work currently being carried out to remove it from buildings. While asbestos was most commonly used for insulation purposes, it was also used as a component of damp proof courses in the past. This was fairly common until the late 1960s, which means that many properties in the region may well contain asbestos.

The presence of asbestos in damp proofing is just as potentially dangerous as when it is used in insulation. While undamaged blocks of asbestos pose no direct threat, the problem is when microscopic spores and fibres break away. If they are inhaled, these almost invisible fragments of asbestos can cause damaging lung and respiratory system problems. At the moment the UK government is coming under increasing pressure to legislate for the fast removal of all asbestos from buildings across the country, and damp proofing is not excluded from this.

If you own a building that has not experienced any problems with damp for 60 or so years, then we would say it’s likely that asbestos was used in the damp proofing. While this does illustrate the effectiveness of asbestos and shows us why the substance was so widely used, the risks of leaving it in buildings are far too high. We specialise in modern and professional damp proofing in Middlesbrough, and we can replace it with a safer but equally effective material.