Help! Something's growing behind my skirting board!

(24 Posts)
cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 11:38:09

Can anyone help, please? Just noticed that there is something mouldy/fungally growing out from bottom of the skirting board. It's not mould in the black/grey fluffy stuff, the only way I can describe it is to say that it looks like someone has stuck a load of toast crumbs to the skirting board, sort of caramel brown bits. I'm guessing it's some sort of damp (the wall feels colder than an internal wall should feel, although it's not wet) but I don't know who to even ask to come out to look at it. Does anyone know who I should even ask to come out and look at this? Any advice gratefully received! Thank you.

Seeline Tue 18-Mar-14 11:39:24

Is it a newish skirting board? It could be resins coming out of the wood. Does it feel sticky?

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 11:44:26

Thanks for your reply.

No, not at all, the house is 70s and we've done nothing decorating-wise I'm ashamed to say in that area since we moved in almost eight years ago. We have had our suspicions about the internal wall between the hall and the dining room since we moved in as the plaster is blown above the skirting board (you can feel that it's cracked under the wallpaper).

Just discovered that my toast crumbs analogy was more accurate than I thought. Just brushed a bit of it and it feels dry and crumbly and falls apart into bits just like toast crumbs.

Seeline Tue 18-Mar-14 11:46:17

In that case it sounds as though you have a mutant invasion grin

Sorry - not much help. I just have black mould, flaking paint and some sort of fungus that looks like candy floss......

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 11:50:12

A mutant invasion?!? Not sure whether to call Ghostbusters or Mulder & Scully then...

Houses are such a pain, there's always something that needs doing.

(Sigh)

Thanks Seeline, good luck your own mutants!

PigletJohn Tue 18-Mar-14 12:09:26

you say it is an internal wall. How far away is the nearest radiator?

Is it a solid (concrete) floor?

Is the other side of the wall damp?

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 12:11:39

Hello Piglet.

It's just next to a radiator. No, the other side of the wall doesn't feel damp but the plaster is blown on that side too and, because it's never felt damp, we assumed it was historical.

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 12:12:30

As for the floor, it's tiled and I assume it's concrete underneath.

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 12:13:41

I'd add a photo but don't know how!

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 12:16:45

Photo here, I hope:

PigletJohn Tue 18-Mar-14 12:48:53

I expect the radiator or pipe is leaking. Please stand back and photo the rad in relation to the mark.

If you scrape the crumbs off, are they a bit glossy? Do they dissolve in a glass of warm water? Do they fizz if dropped into a teaspoon of vinegar?

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 12:54:02

Please hold while I do the above things. Thank you PigletJohn.

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 12:57:40

Additional photo.

cathyandclaire Tue 18-Mar-14 13:00:05

Could it be early stage of dry rot? It looks caramelly but maybe more fungussy (is that a word?) than yours...

PigletJohn Tue 18-Mar-14 13:05:07

yes, it's the radiator pipe. The floor will have to be dug up to get to it (unless you are very lucky and you can see leak marks and brown crumbs underneath the bottom seam of the radiator, or under the connections or valve.

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 13:06:22

That's what worries me cathyandclaire, and why I'm having a major panic (no money for dry rot treatment!).

No, crumbs aren't glossy at all PigletJohn, they look really dry. This is pretty yuk, but they look almost like tiny scabs. And, no, they neither dissolve in warm water (broke up a bit when I stirred the water, but didn't dissolve) and don't do anything in vinegar.

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 13:09:10

Oh joy, we've already had this once, in the downstairs bathroom. Not covered by insurance as it's an "uninsured peril". In the bathroom it was because the pipe to the heated towel rail was encased in concrete and any daughter of a civil engineer (i.e. me) knows that concrete can be corrosive. Perhaps this is just a repeat. Can't afford that again!

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 13:10:15

What's the brown bits though? Just where the wood is disintegrating because of the damp? she says hopefully

H2OWoe Tue 18-Mar-14 13:10:18

Nothing to add but I'm riveted! This is like something from a science programme :-)

PigletJohn Tue 18-Mar-14 13:13:09

I don't know what the scabs are, then. I thought they were probably crystals of Fernox or mineral salts, but apparently not. It might be scale stained with rust. How often do you have to bleed the radiators?

Finding and fixing the leak is the first step. While digging it out, you may find more damage. If the floor is concrete and the wall is brick or block, only the skirting board could rot, so pull that off. There is a chance you will find a wooden wallplate behind the skirting.

If it is a stud and plasterboard wall, the studwork might rot.

New, modern skirting board is very cheap to buy and replace. You need a plumber first.

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 13:17:29

Erm, I don't bleed the radiators. But the nice British Gas man does when he services the boiler every year...

Should I be doing it more often?

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 13:18:58

The plaster is blown on both sides of the wall. starts sobbing This is going to be expensive, isn't it?

PigletJohn Tue 18-Mar-14 13:31:51

depends how much leaking pipework you find when you dig the floor up. Perhaps there is just one leak. Perhaps not. If you needed to replace all the underfloor piping, it would be easier to run new pipes above the skirting, and abandon the stuff in the floor.

When the radiators are hot, feel the top and see if it is as hot as the sides, bottom and middle.

Cold tops are gas, cold middles are sediment.

cattypussclaw Tue 18-Mar-14 14:32:13

Time to Get A Man Out, I think.

Thanks for your help PigletJohn, I think you've probably nailed down what the problem is, which is a good start.

(sigh)

Wanders off to find a plumber...

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