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Help! Penetrating damp & large vertical crack in airing cupboard

(5 Posts)
ratflavouredjelly Wed 05-Oct-11 20:22:56

Can anyone advise me? I've moved into a 'project' but it's proving to be not much fun with a minuscule budget and problems cropping up constantly. (Think I will make another thread about that though).

I have discovered the airing cuPboard has issues. Wallpaper was stained and soaked with Penetrating damp. None above or below though. I think it's from years (house is 1920's) of damp washing in there with no ventilation. We have stripped wallpaPer off. The plaster has blown. It's the inside of an external wall. The right hand side interior of the cuPboard is next to my DD room. The wall is literally crumbling when I push my fingers in to it. Most worrying is the large vertical crack going up the wall between the interior and exterior. Yes I can fit a pound coin in it. But there is nothing on the outside of the building and no structural cracks below the airing cupboard or above it weirdly.

When we viewed this house, the ladder to the loft was always left over the airing cupboard so it was very difficult to open the door more than 1cm. I am feeling utterly duped and will look at my survey again to check.

Should I repair with lime plaster? More breathable. And should I get a company in to look at it?
Thanks (sobs...)

Abzs Thu 06-Oct-11 11:56:12

Leave the door open and dry the cupboard out. Get a dehumidifier going in there if necessary. This could take weeks. It's not worth getting any one in until you've done that, because then you'll have an idea if the damp is still ongoing i.e. coming from somewhere else.

Do you know if the crack is new/old/still moving? Is the internal wall structural? You can buy crack monitors or make your own (or even tape a hair across it). Look inside for dust and spiders. If it's old and not moving then it could be just an aesthetic problem. If it's new/moving/structural then you'll need a professional opinion.

If you decide you need to get a professional in, I'd wait till the cupboard's dried and cover the two things together. Get a Building Surveyor (RICS Chartered) - not a "damp repair company" - as they should be able to work with you to find appropriate solutions and contractors.

Check what level of survey detail you paid for. On a basic Homebuyer Survey they might not open cupboard doors - just note that they are there - especially if the door was blocked.

ratflavouredjelly Fri 07-Oct-11 00:01:13

Abzs that's great advice thanks. I'll get a dehumidifier then. Not sure how old the crack is. We moved in 2 months ago.

So, should i TAPE A hair across and measure the width of the hair? To see if it changes. You sound pretty knowledgeable about this sort of thing.

thanks !

Abzs Tue 11-Oct-11 11:45:00

The hair taped tight across the crack is a very basic movement detector - if it snaps or goes slack, something moved...

The link below is a crack monitor - the red lines on the clear part lines up with zero on the grid on the solid part to begin with, then any movement will show up as it moves out of line.

You can make your own with bits of stiff card and plastic with the grid lines drawn on.

It can take weeks/months for movement to show up, so you have to be patient.

Make sure it's out of reach of small people or you'll get a false result!

PigletJohn Thu 13-Oct-11 12:41:58

airing cupboards usually have cylinders and water pipes in, under and above them. Often damp near a pipe is related to the pipe.

If the wet is on an external wall, look outside for faulty guttering or downpipes (old iron downpipes tend to rust on the wall side where it is too much trouble to paint them.

It's a good idea to hack off any blown, cracked or crumbly plaster. This may show you what's going on behind it, e.g. you may need to repair brickwork.

Condensation from wet washing usually leads to black mould on the walls, and tends to be in patches, not spots.

If your house is 1920s, it will probably have finished moving by now, unless someone has been knocking down supporting walls or adding loft extensions, or there is e.g. an underground water leak or nearby tree affecting the foundations. A lot of cracks in houses built prior to 1946 are due to ground movements during bombing.

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