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Using a dehumidifier to dry out damp walls - tips?

(27 Posts)
nomdemere Tue 09-Sep-14 15:01:48

The source of the damp was inadequate flashings on 3 chimney breasts. This has (hopefully) now been fixed, but the chimney breasts are all very damp (40% moisture content according to the moisture meter we bought from Amazon - not sure exactly what that means, but apparently over 20% is bad).

Now running a dehumidifier in one of the rooms, planning to do that for a week, then switch to the second, and then the third. Does anyone know if this is sensible?

PigletJohn Tue 09-Sep-14 18:58:51

opening the windows will be cheaper. Strip off all wallpaper. If you can lay your hands on an ordinary room fan, set it to blow onto the wet walls. This will encourage water to evaporate into the air. The damp air can then escape through the open window.

If you ever use a dehumidifier, you must close all the doors and windows, or it will try to dehumidify the world.

nomdemere Wed 10-Sep-14 09:01:01

Thanks PigletJohn. DH did leave the window open the first time!

You probably know quite a bit about moisture meter readings (I read your posts avidly for information on all things plumbing and property related!) Do you know how quickly we should be able to see if the damp is receding? My concern is that the roofers have not fully fixed the problem (they did a bad job in the first place and I don't have faith in them). How long should it be before we see the moisture level falling? I know there may be a hygroscopic salts issue that keeps the reading high, but should we still see that 40% reading gradually falling over a few weeks/months?

The walls just have painted lining paper on them. I am a bit reluctant to strip it off because it will look so awful, but perhaps we should. We are going to replaster and repaper when it is fully dry - but I don't want to make the mistake of doing this before it's dry - or if the roof hasn't been fully fixed.

Thank you for any further advice!

PausingFlatly Wed 10-Sep-14 09:20:20

Opening the windows may be cheaper, but it will also be very much less effective.

After lots of damp problems, I have little humidity meters in every room and one outside. In summer, the outside air is frequently over 70% humidity.

The dehumidifier keeps a closed room at 60%, and it's taken a good six months to dry out the walls.

Moving the dehumidifier round the rooms sounds good - during the fallow period in each room, moisture will slowly come to the newly dried surface from deep in the wall, so your dehumidifier will work slightly more efficiently next time it's in there.

But however you do it, the key thing, as PJ says, is to dehumidify a closed space, so you don't try to dehumidify the world.

PausingFlatly Wed 10-Sep-14 09:22:13

BTW, when you say replaster, do you mean hack off first or just re-skim?

If the former, and you can bear it, the walls will dry faster if you hack off now.

stealthsquiggle Wed 10-Sep-14 09:26:19

We found a dehumidifier very effective in similar circumstances. I don't know the answers to your technical questions, but our dehumidifier was a great investment - we have used it for everything from dealing with general low level damp to drying rooms after spills/ floods/ carpet cleaning. It's 20 years old now and I really need to get a new one.

PigletJohn Wed 10-Sep-14 11:06:18

painted wallpaper forms a barrier which prevents water evaporating from the wet plaster. Strip it off. It will be spoiled anyway if it has got damp.

When you can see the damp wall, pencil round the outline of the damp patch and write the date on it. Do this once a month or so and you will hopefully observe that the patch gets smaller over a period of months.

nomdemere Wed 10-Sep-14 11:20:04

Okay, thanks all. Yes, I think we do need to bite the bullet and strip off the wallpaper. Will break the news to DH tonight... I will do the thing with writing the date on outlines of the damp patches too.

PrincessOfChina Wed 10-Sep-14 11:23:23

Can I jump in and ask a question here? We have a couple of damp patches. The one on the chimney breast (no actual chimney anymore) has become better since we had a vent fitted and started to use a dehumidifier but one on the bottom of a wall (internal) has remained the same over the course of nine months. It's not got worse, but not visibly shrunk either (we did the drawing thing). Anyone have any ideas?

Middleagedmotheroftwo Wed 10-Sep-14 11:23:32

We had a similar problem in a chimney breast area. You do need to strip everything off, down to bare brick, if you can bear it. It will all dry out much faster, though will still take a few months probably. We had the walls sealed before being replastered.

nomdemere Wed 10-Sep-14 13:08:32

Are there any problems with sleeping in a room with bare brick walls motheroftwo? Is it draughty?

And what does resealing provide/entail? Sounds like it might be an idea for us too.

Princess - an uneducated guess is that it might be the 'hygroscopic salts' issue which only goes away with replastering?

Middleagedmotheroftwo Wed 10-Sep-14 15:20:10

Well, it was our lounge, not the bedroom, but I can't think of any problems. If it's draughty, just chuck another blanket on!

The resealing involved painting some black stuff on the wall on top of the brick. I've no idea what it was though.

We had that done because we couldn't get to the root of the problem. We were probably just masking it, but we sold up not long after blush.

PausingFlatly Wed 10-Sep-14 16:07:43

Yep, you were just masking it and handing a big problem to the buyer. The wall will be even more soggy because the water's now trapped.

There are additives you can put in the plaster to allow water to dry through it while keeping the salts in check. Talk to a pro damp co if in doubt.

addictedtosugar Wed 10-Sep-14 18:46:19

Only thing I'd add is to keep checking on the level of water collected, if it is like the one we loaned and is collected in a pot. The first few days (different situation - upstairs flooded their flat, and it all came through our ceiling), we got massive amounts of liquid out - and were emptying the thing several times a day.

PrincessOfChina Wed 10-Sep-14 20:43:35

Thanks for the tips. We have to get the damp people back in to check some work they did elsewhere so will get them to take a look. Sigh.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Thu 11-Sep-14 12:11:48

Pausing - in our defense, we spent a considerable amount of time and money trying to get to the bottom of our problem. Even to the extend of making our neighbours endure visits by builders, surveyors etc because their fireplace backed on to ours. They didn't have a damp problem.
No-one could get to the source of the damp, so we were advised to seal it over by the "experts".
No damp showed up in the survey when the house was sold.

stealthsquiggle Thu 11-Sep-14 12:45:41

Sometimes needs must. When I bought my first house, the survey said it had rising damp - it had a damp proof course with a guarantee which turned out, of course, not to be worth the paper it was written on. There was no way we could afford to get it all redone, and if we had it might well not have made any difference anyway. We got a dehumidifier, and when we sold it the survey showed no damp at all - which suggests it was largely condensation in the first place. The only "sneaky" thing we did was to remove the dehumidifier when buyers or surveyors came round.

PausingFlatly Thu 11-Sep-14 13:51:12

I feel your damp pain, middle.

<glares at soggy spots>

nomdemere Fri 12-Sep-14 09:29:53

Our dehumidifier has an automatic cut-off - so it beeps and turns itself off when the water pot is full. It's filling in a few hours (though it's not that big a pot).

Yvonne80 Thu 26-Nov-15 16:33:04

Hi, sorry know this post was ages ago, however need advice please: just brought a house (showed no damp on survey) but that's ok as long as we can sort the problem, my conservatory wall is damp, so much so that if you touch it there is moisture running off, outside on the ground directly linking to the conservatory is decking, from what we can see the decking is soaking up the water and the bricks are helping, we are going to remove the decking off the wall (cutting it back) my husband will do the damp proofing, my question is do we dry out the walls with a dehumidifier before damp proofing and should we strip it back to the bricks inside?

TipfullBoB Tue 06-Sep-16 16:28:27

Open windows+door(s)increase ventilation.A Big electric FAN..fastest speed setting..on full etc,its head adjusted to move LFT to RHT-Circulates the air rapidly....weight its base down..Tilt/angle to face ceiling...pushes the excess moisture out the opened window(s) etc.superior to just only windows & doors plaster will dry rapidly but naturally .

HezzieB2B Sat 23-Sep-17 16:48:34

We have had a damp proof course done downstairs, waited 6 months for it to dry out, then we decided to take off the top part of the wallpaper to redecorate. As a lot of the plaster came off with the wallpaper, we got someone in to replaster the whole room. A week later its drying out downstairs and looks great, however the bedroom directly upstairs has now got little brown spots of damp all over the room!! What can I do to make this better? Dehumidifer plus dampsealing paint to cover it? Or should I be complaining to the initial damp proof contractor? Help and advice please!

PigletJohn Sat 23-Sep-17 21:35:12

"bedroom directly upstairs has now got little brown spots of damp all over the room!! "

show us some photos and open the windows.

water vapour is lighter than air so naturally rises through a house until it either escapes or finds something to condense on.

PigletJohn Sat 23-Sep-17 21:36:33

btw you had better start a new thread. Your circumstances may be quite different from those described in this one, so will be confusing.

HezzieB2B Sat 23-Sep-17 22:13:13

Ok thanks for your advice.

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