Learning the Lessons of the Past

Our new online surveyors training , which commenced last week, sees a blend of both new and historical information coming together. In fact our online Convention Records Archives  hosts a great deal of information which is just as relevant today, as pointed out by PCA Trainer Gervais Sawyer in this article on “The Environmental Use of Timber: A Study and Assessment of Water Penetration into Buildings”.

This paper is from the 1969 British Wood Protection Association (BWPA) Conference, available from our online Convention Records Archive – a free online resource for anyone that wants to broaden their knowledge of dampness and timber preservation.

A point that is particularly interesting!

One of the points that is particularly interesting in this article, is that it discusses the commonality of Damp Proof Courses being bridged by solid floors in houses modern at that time – a problem that many PCA members will come across on a regular basis today.

Having read numerous texts on building disrepair it is clear that no building is built without defect and that goes for modern buildings and renovations today. Grenfell Towers and the Oxgangs Schools are just two of the more high profile examples.

A lack of Understanding about Condensation – then & now!

Another rather timely point (given the release of the Building Regulations Consultation Response on Approved Document F) is that the article points out that, generally, consideration is really only given to water when it is in the liquid form, and moisture vapour often neglected.

Yet over 50 years on we are still trying to get the same message across. It also highlights a lack of understanding on condensation issues and again, this is something I suspect that most of us come across on a nearly daily basis.

Using Moisture Meters to Diagnose Damp

For me however, perhaps one of the most interesting sections is on the use of moisture meters, which states:

“…these meters play an extremely small part as no instrument will indicate the cause or causes of the dampness.”

We have always communicated that a moisture meter is only as good as the person holding it, and their ability to use that information with an understanding of building defects.

We have a great many guidance notes and documents within our technical document library which we are continuously updating and developing to support our members across all sectors within our industry.

The author then mentions that instruments are available that will measure moisture content of a wall, but then states that these measures are rarely of importance as generally there is only a problem if a wall is visibly wet – a similar theme to that of our webinar on moisture diagnostics last year. Whilst many might argue about the benefits of destructive testing, in reality in the vast majority of instances, it is not required.

PCA Convention Records – Still relevant today

We learned in early 2020 that Professor Anastasia Pournou from the University of Attica (Athens) requested to use some of the images from our archives for her book “Biodeterioration of Wooden Cultural Heritage in Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystems” which was published later that year.

Our library of convention documents is available for all members to use, a great wealth of history, knowledge and information is contained here – and it’s incredible to keep discovering how far afield our history and reputation is reaching!

To most reading this, none of it will be new, nor should it be. It has all been mentioned in a paper that is 50 years old, but it was an idea that sparked this short musing. The content of this article and many others in the convention archives makes for some fascinating reading and I encourage you all to check them out.

Perhaps the take home message is that when this was written, we were striving for best practice and that is something that the PCA and its members are still promoting to this day.

View Convention Records Archive >>

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