Property Care Association Conference & Awards 2017

Written by neilmarsden on . Posted in Projects

We recently attended the Property Care Association (PCA) Awards in Coventry. A fantastic event that brings together the cream of the industry. It’s great to get a chance to see what everyone else is doing, to share some ideas and broaden our knowledge. 

Marsden Damp Services are also immensely proud of two of our employees, Martin Whitely and Nick Wardle, who were finalists in the Employee of the Year Award. Although they didn’t win on this occasion, to make it into the top 5 in the country is an excellent achievement. Well done guys! 

Working with North Star

Written by neilmarsden on . Posted in Projects

We’ve had the pleasure in working with an excellent Housing Association in the Teesside Area, North Star Housing. They truly care about their tenants and we have been hugely impressed by the way they try to meet their needs and look after the properties that they live in. 

We were recently asked to do a talk on ‘Dampness in the Home’ at their tenant event in Middlesbrough. Yours truly was the guest speaker and the feedback was that it went down very well. We also managed to give a little bit to local charities too! 


Transform your unused basement!

Written by neilmarsden on . Posted in Projects

Here at Marsden Damp Services, we have some of the most highly trained and skilled technicians who are able to carry out basement waterproofing works. 

We were asked by a customer in Wolsingham to visit their property. When we arrived they had a small basement, which was a wet concrete floor, and bare walls. After providing a spec, the customer asked us to proceed. 

Our technicians, Martin and Nick, spent several weeks putting their incredible skills to work. The result was a total transformation of the basement. The client has since decorating, and it looks amazing. What a fantastic feature for the house, and something both the client and ourselves can be very proud of. 

Ventilation – to a solid 9 inch wall?!?!

Written by neilmarsden on . Posted in Projects

Sometimes you think you’ve seen it all… and then…

Property had damp readings at low level on the external elevations. No visual signs of dampness, but the meter was giving low readings.

Due to the consistency of the readings at a uniform height on all external walls, it got me thinking that this couldn’t be rising damp. Something had to be going on outside.

I went out to have a look. The walls were solid 9 inch construction with no cavity. All around the property, about 6 courses up and 3 courses apart, some very unusual looking airbricks had been installed! A builder on site informed me that they’d been installed to ‘ventilate the solid wall as there was no cavity’

By doing this they have effectively reduced the wall thickness to 4.5 inches, one leaf of brickwork, and any rainwater hitting the external wall would just pass straight through! Hence the damp readings around the property, at the height of the air bricks! My advice – remove all those air bricks that you’ve just paid for to be installed. There is no benefit whatsoever in ventilating a solid wall!!

To be honest, when it comes to air bricks, I see them installed in properties on a daily basis with a view to solving damp problems – only to make them worse! They should be used to ventilate timber floors but should be used for very little else, most certainly not ventilating masonry or plaster.

20160915_112209 20160915_112215 20160915_112211

Damp problem?

Written by neilmarsden on . Posted in Projects

We got a call from a landlord who informed us that there was water getting into their basement. We called straight over to have a look as I was in the area when they called. This was the picture they sent me.










When I got there, it was quite obvious that the picture didn’t tell the whole story! Seeing it in person… it didn’t take long to work out the problem!



Client has woodworm in her roof – cost to get rid of it… £0??

Written by neilmarsden on . Posted in Projects, Uncategorized

I attended a property in Washington, Tyne & Wear, to inspect a loft for woodworm. The client had found evidence of active attack and was concerned about the cost of treatment.

I called out to look and after some investigation provided the client with good news – there was no cost to get rid of the woodworm, and I would tell her how to do the treatment herself!

The reason? While it looked just like Common Furniture Beetle, which would have required a full loft treatment, costing approx £600 +VAT, it was actually Bark Borer (Enobius mollis). The insect only attacks bark. Therefore by simply removing the small sections of bark left on a couple of the timbers in her roof, the infestation would cease.











Yet another reason why it’s important to use a specialist surveyor, as I suspect unless another surveyor had been highly trained in what is a specialist subject, they would have been unable to tell the difference between Enobius mollis and Anobium punctatum, which is more common, and would have required treatment.

Cost to client – £90 for survey. £0 for treatment.

Potential if misdiagnosed by unqualified ‘surveyor’ or ‘builder’

£0 for survey, £600+ for treatment

Always use a specialist! 

My daughters health problems – caused by mould?

Written by neilmarsden on . Posted in Projects

My daughter who is now 11 months old developed a cough that lasted several months. We had 6 doctors appointments and eventually seen a specialist.

The first doctor suggested it was as a result of dampness and mould in the home. “Have you got any mould?” We did actually have a bit had developed around the bedroom window. I didn’t tell him this though, knowing it would get the blame. So I told him “No” and we moved on to look for another solution.
After several further visits, and a visit to the specialist, we found out that it was an old virus and it could cause a cough to linger for months. It’s now gone away as we were told.
If I’d told the doctor we had mould, I believe that would have been blamed for the cough. If I didn’t understand the subject like I do, I would have put two and two together, got 5, paid a ‘mould removal specialist’ hundreds to come and remove the mould, clean the walls, and I probably would never have got as far as seeing the specialist and having the problem diagnosed.

I understand mould indicates moisture. We were getting condensation on the window and it was running down onto the sill. What had changed? New baby, blackout blind, reduced airflow around the window.

Moisture is the problem, not the mould!

Black Spot Mould – Toxic Mould?

Written by neilmarsden on . Posted in Projects

Black Spot Mould is something I have dealt with for many years and is a nuisance in the home, especially for landlords/housing associations who have tenanted properties.


I hope you take the time to read this article, however in short I’m asking the question – How harmful is Black Spot Mould to your health? In short I’m giving the answer – not very. If you want to save some time reading, then you can leave it there and take my answer. Otherwise please read on for a detailed explanation as to how I’ve come to this conclusion.


I’ve heard it all over the years about the evils of black spot mould. How dangerous it is, how much it affects peoples health etc. however I’ve always had my doubts over black spot mould. You can’t help but believe what you’re told by the NHS, Environmental Health etc. as to how back ‘Toxic’ BSM is.

I myself am asthmatic. I visit properties on a daily basis with damp and mould and in the 15 years I’ve been doing it, and remembering I’ve been is some properties with shockingly bad mould problems, not once have I ever had a physical reaction to it in any way. I’m also allergic to just about everything. I can be out walking the dog and come into an area where there’s certain plants I’m allergic to and it has me struggling for breath in an instant. I have to carry my inhaler at all times.

Funny though, in all these years, black spot mould has never been a trigger.


I went to a property recently in Durham where there was some black spot mould on a wall. About 1 metre square at best. The client had a ‘mould removal specialist’ coming in who was going to seal off the area, come in with full body suits on, remove the mould and take it away for safe disposal. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Wow.


I have been in many properties where the complaint is – “the mould is affecting my health”. I’ve always believed that it’s not the mould, but the living conditions which are present that allow the mould to grow, are the same living conditions which affect the inhabitants health. Lack of airflow, poor ventilation, excessive moisture in the air, generally poor air quality.


Again I recently surveyed a home where the tenant complained of mould causing breathing difficulty. There was also no fresh air, the heating was on, doors and windows sealed, and the tenant smoked 3 cigarettes just in the time I was there. By the time I left, I was also struggling to breath, but I can assure you it wasn’t the mould that was responsible for that.


We have said for years mould would become the new asbestos. It looks like it finally has. I decided it’s time to do some research and answer the question once and for all.


During my research I was pointed in the direction of a Forensic Industrial Hygienist from Colorado. I wanted to share some of the information from his website with you. He has done talks with the PCA (Property Care Association) and after reading some of his research, it really backs up what I’ve always thought.


The article is written by Caoimhin P. Connell. A Forensic Industrial Hygienist, and below is a summary of what he has written. I’ve included some snippets below and a link to an excellent article he has written about Health Effects of Moulds.


“All Houses have mould, and all houses contain billions of mould spores. All houses and work places contain the dreaded ‘toxic black mould’ – which a nonsensical term invented by the news media.


“Virtually every human, in virtually every location on earth inhales hundreds to hundreds of thousands of mould spores on a daily basis. Contrary to common belief, there is currently no evidence that the presence of these moulds and the exposures threaten the health of members of the public.


“Every cubic foot of air in a normal, healthy and dry home contains hundreds of mould spores. Therefore you can be assured if a ‘Mould Specialist’ performs a mould test on your property, the result will be positive. In most cases mould tests are invalid, but that is another discussion in itself.


“In July of 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its position paper on indoor moulds and Indoor Air Quality. Contrary to what many people in the mould remediation business want to believe, the WHO guidelines reinforced the findings of the 2004 Institute of Medicine mould study group. In that study, the IOM stated there was insufficient evidence to find a causal association between the presence of moulds and any of the claimed adverse health effects. That is, after reviewing the global scientific and medical literature, the IOM could not find sufficient evidence to support the argument that the normal presence of mould in residences and workplaces caused any adverse health effects.


“Only certain mould spores produce toxins, and only under certain circumstances. Just because a particular mould can produce toxins doesn’t mean it will. Even if the mould is producing toxins, a person must breathe in a sufficient dose to be affected. It is highly unlikely that you could inhale enough mould in your home or office to receive a toxic dose.


“The WHO and the IOM, however, both concluded there was an association between damp living spaces and some adverse health effects. The unfounded assumption by those unfamiliar with the studies presume that mould was responsible for the association, however, this is not the case. Although it is well established that there exists an “association” between damp in buildings and a slight increase in observed adverse health effects, it is also well established that no one has been able to conclusively demonstrate that the association is exclusively due to the presence of mould. WHO and the IOM note that dust mites, Bacteria, termites, protozoans, endotoxins, VOCs, formaldehyde, pesticides, viral survival and generally poor ventilation are similarly associated with damp, and these factors, too, are considered to be part of the etiological backdrop. As such, in the remediation of water damage, the stress is placed on correcting “damp” and not on removing mould.


“The problem is not the mould. The underlying problem is moisture. The mould is the visual evidence of the problem. Long term mould problems usually indicate a condensation problem.


The article can be viewed in full here

Neil Marsden – TV expert!

Written by neilmarsden on . Posted in Projects

Last year I was asked to attend a site in Blaydon, where dry rot works had been carried out by another company. The call was from Kris Jepson, of ITV news. They were trying to trace the rogue trader and asked for my help in assessing the works that had been carried out.

The programme was finally aired this year. I think the funniest part was my four year olds reaction to seeing her Dad on the TV, she just couldn’t understand!