A blog post

Damp Walls caused by Modernisation! – A traditional damp proofing solution

Posted on the 04 September, 2009 at 4:49 pm Written by in Blog, Case Studies, Damp

When the owners of a farm house suffering with damp problems needed a damp proofing solution Premier Heritage were on hand to assist with a traditional solution to damp.

This detached, stone built former Devon Farmhouse was refurbished by its previous owners in the 1970’s and unfortunately like many properties of this age was stripped of much of its original fabric, including its lime plasterwork, renders and pointing mortar.

Farmhouse prior to damp proofing taking place

Farmhouse prior to traditional form of damp proofing taking place

In early 2008 Premier Heritage received instructions from its new owners to undertake a full survey of the property for dampness and associated defects and to put forward a specification for remedial works to deal with the dampness present and any associated defects.

Drying out the dampness in the property

Drying out the dampness in the property

The main areas of concern identified by our investigation confirmed the presence of rising and penetrating dampness affecting various walls, although the latter mainly affecting the weather prevailing elevations and most noticeably the front sitting room, rear drawing room and stair area. No structural dampness was identified at first floor level.

As a consequence of the longstanding dampness to the lower sections of the south and western walls, several timber lintels were also showing signs of decay (some having already been replaced) and also death watch beetle activity.

Lintels showing signs of death watch beetle activity and fungal decay

Lintels showing signs of death watch beetle activity and fungal decay

The structural timbers supporting the half landing were also affected by wet rot where bearing into the wall as were numerous skirting and window boards.

To the western wall there was also the added complication of raised external ground levels sloping towards the house and also an obvious, insufficient overhang of the thatched roofing, increasing moisture at ground level and within the walls.

Replaced timbers

Replaced timbers

It was established that the conditions affecting this property had resulted as a consequence of the building’s past refurbishment and the removal of the original permeable mortars and renders used in the buildings original construction (i.e. the lime plaster, bedding and pointing mortar etc). Subsequent replacement with modern cement, being less permeable has resulted in dampness becoming trapped within the fabric of the wall ‘due to its inability to breathe’. This problem has built up over many years being further compounded by the numerous layers of masonry paint applied to the walls over the past 30 years or so!

Premier Heritage’s specification for remedial works concentrated on the removal of the cement materials (both inside and out) to allow the walls to dry down, along with subsequent repairs to structural and joinery timbers. The main contractor was appointed and the works were project managed by Premier Heritage.

The first task was to remove the external paintwork and cement pointing which was impermeable and trapping moisture / dampness within the wall’s, increasing the levels of dampness and internal damage to the building’s fabric. Having removed all external coatings and cement mortar (including that to the interior of the sitting room) the walls started to dry down.

New oak lintels were introduced, where existing were structurally unsound and timber repairs were completed to the interior staircase and landing etc.

Ground levels to the western wall were also reduced, with improved drainage and a vertical slate barrier fitted to the lower sections of the wall to minimise damp penetration.

Following the drying period re-pointing commenced to the exposed stone walls and this was undertaken using a lime based (permeable / breathable) mortar, after which the building was re-thatched and finally redecorated throughout.

The building has now been restored to its former condition and is dry and comfortable as well as looking great!

The finished farmhouse free of damp

The finished farmhouse free of damp

some comments

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  1. Irene O reilly 3 February 2017 at 9:57 pm permalink

    We have an 18th century cottage and your advertisement perfectly describes our cottage. The heritage department are insisting upon minimal intervention and will not permit us to strip the walls or replastering even in lime mortar.
    Your methodology of using slates to prevent the rising damp would be of great interest to us and we would be very interested to find out more about this. We have a meeting with heritage on Tuesday 7th February and would be keen to offer your solution as an option to the department.

    We would be very keen to hear from you

    Kind regards
    Irene o reilly
    Tel 0035387615420