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Damp Issues

(18 Posts)
MerilwenRose Sat 04-Jun-16 13:42:32

I've recently noticed that we have a damp problem on about two meters the front exterior wall, spanning part of the sitting room and part of the hallway. The paint on the hallway has got a rough texture and some of the paint has crumbled. In the sitting room some of the wallpaper is coming up and the plaster behind it is crumbling. There is also a 'bulge' in the wall (behind a table, which is how we've not noticed it before) which if you poke it feels like the plaster is obviously soft and crumbly. We've not peeled back the paper or carpet yet in case there's mould as we don't want to disturb the spores (I'm asthmatic and we have a four month old).

I know it's rare but I think it might be rising damp as the house is older (1930s), raised from ground level and the paint and plaster issues seem consistent with this kind of damp. I've looked outside and there is no obvious leak and the airbrick doesn't seem blocked.

Do we need a general builder or should we get a damp company in straight away? And has anyone got any experience or words of wisdom? This is our first home and we've never had to deal with anything like this before!

PigletJohn Sat 04-Jun-16 17:41:57

what height is it?

photos would help, including of the outside. I would be especially interested to see the ground level, compared to the height of the DPC; any sign of puddling on paving; any sign of leaking pipes or spilling gutters, internal plumbing or radiator pipes near or above the damp.

PigletJohn Sat 04-Jun-16 17:44:03


If you invite into your home someone who sells damp treatment, he will tell you to buy damp treatment.

Damp is caused by a fault causing a source of water. Damp treatment does not correct these faults.

MerilwenRose Sat 04-Jun-16 22:34:06

Thanks PigletJohn I know you are quite knowledgeable about these things so really appreciate any help - I'll take some photos tomorrow morning when the light's better.

The damage is roughly 15cm up from the floorboards, though probably about 25cm from the floorboard at the very worst part. Floor level is a good foot higher than the ground outside. The worst part is about half a meter from a radiator, but we've had no dips in pressure with the boiler (except when we have cold snaps) so thought it was unlikely to be a leak from the system, it hasn't happened in ages. No leaking gutters outside (we had them fixed last year) and no pooling of water by the house when it rains.

I was planning to get a general builder to assess it all next week, but FIL suggested getting a damp company out to evaluate it, so I wasn't sure! But I was worried they might be somewhat biased.

cjm10979 Sun 05-Jun-16 23:07:06

Use a damp surveyor. I've used one twice and costs c. £250 for the survey.
For the last one I had done the leak was coming from under the bath on a ground floor flat but most of the walls in the flat were showing signs of damp and no leak showing in the bathroom.
The survey said contact your building insurance company to do a 'track & trace' to find the source of the leak and then detailed the remedial work to be done such as full dry out and type of plastering needed.
Don't go for a 'free' survey from a damp specialist company, they always suggest using an injected damp proof course which can cost £2k for one wall shock

SellFridges Sun 05-Jun-16 23:17:23

I would also recommend a damp surveyer. That's an independent, not someone who sells solutions.

Ours spent about 4 hours checking various things out, used cameras under the house, took samples away for testing. He sent a lengthy report with remedies (which proved to be a mis-places gutter which was sending water cascading under the house rather than into drainage) and also provided the specifications to be used when re-plastering to avoid any further damp patches.

Berks2Mum Mon 06-Jun-16 01:01:56

Don't bother with damp contractors. They don't investigate searchingly and will basically use it as opportunity to get the maximum work for themselves and even engineer reports so as to suggest rising damp as a ventilation issue does not bring them work.

Firstly do check ventilation and check file attached. Cooking cheap foods like pasta won't help, use dryer for wet clothes etc.

Berks2Mum Mon 06-Jun-16 01:02:59

Hi Sell Fridge can you give us the name of contractor. Cheers

MerilwenRose Mon 06-Jun-16 09:15:26

Okay these are the ones in the sitting room - the bit above the phone point is where it's the worst, it doesn't show up that well but the dust is basically on a bulge in the wall - when you poke it it feels like the plaster is squidgy underneath.

MerilwenRose Mon 06-Jun-16 09:20:58

These show the paint peeling and going flaky in the hallway - the one with the pipes is inside the cupboard next to where the patch of paint is, the wall is slightly clammy but the carpet is dry (just dirty - pram wheels have got dirt onto it). When we bought the house two years ago the survey showed a small amount of damp in the cupboard but we had a damp company out who didn't think it was serious and the owners had kept a chest freezer in there. FIL redecorated it earlier this year and didn't notice any damp - BIL also fitted a fuse box in there just before christmas (not on the wall that has damp) and said it was all bone dry.

MerilwenRose Mon 06-Jun-16 09:31:47

Finally exterior shots, the one with the door open shows the height it's raised from ground level, the other is of the wall outside the worst part (bulge in the wall).

This is the most boring post I've ever made on mumsnet! Still not sure whether to get builder or damp specialist but will start ringing round when DD wakes up from her nap.

MerilwenRose Mon 06-Jun-16 09:37:27

Thanks cjm that's useful to know - I doubt it is a leak so we probably can't use the trace service. Thanks also sell I think an independent damp surveyor sounds like a good idea - I was just wary of someone coming and telling me we need x, y, z without telling me what the actual cause is! I'm on maternity leave and while we have savings that should cover this, I'm worried about being ripped off and then still having the issue!!

berks Our ventilation is good and we use a tumble drier! I have no idea what our eating 'cheap food like pasta' has to do with anything!! hmm

MerilwenRose Mon 06-Jun-16 09:40:52

Also have just looked at those pics properly and the damp looks awful close up! I swear the rest of my house is lovely... I do need to clean the skirting boards though I must admit!!

CheeseBadger Mon 06-Jun-16 11:39:15

It looks like the important point that you missed out is that the house is covered in heavily painted render. If it's a Victorian era house, this is going to have a bearing on the problem. The external walls are unable to release moisture as they were designed to because they're covered in what I'm betting is a strong cement based render with an oil based paint on top of it. Any small leaks or penetrating damp will track down the inside of the render until they reach the base of a wall and then basically sit there, coming into the inside of the house because the water can't evaporate out. Even the unrendered bricks at the base of the wall are covered in an impermeable paint.

Having a completely impermeable path right up the the wall is probably also not helping. Taking it back a few inches and filling the gap with something like pea gravel would probably help.

So you've got a couple of classic damp causing issues there. It probably needs looking at by a builder with experience of that age of house in your area, or by an independent damp specialist. But not a salesman. There are no intractable problems there, but you probably do have an issue with trapped moisture. In the short term, how is the guttering at the front of the house? If you have any leaks, they will be tracking down the inside of the render to the base of the wall, and it's a really easy short term fix.

wowfudge Mon 06-Jun-16 11:49:01

CheeseBadger has posted what I was thinking when I saw the house is rendered. Something has happened in the time you've been there to exacerbate the problem - if you've made no decorative changes to the exterior then just the sheer amount of rain fall in the last year could be a major factor and a small issue has got much worse.

PigletJohn Mon 06-Jun-16 11:56:12

is the floor near the damp made of wood or concrete?

How many air bricks are there, on how many sides of the house?

Can you lift a board and have a feel and a sniff?

I observe a new-looking airbrick which may mean someone tried to improve subfloor ventilation.

Have you got a water meter? Have your adjacent neighbours?

Does your boiler have a pressure gauge?

MerilwenRose Mon 06-Jun-16 12:55:20

Thanks all, I appreciate the help! I've found a reputable independent damp surveyor locally (not attached to any company) - unfortunately they can't fit us in for a month. Since it's probably been here for some time, and it's summer we're hoping another month won't make too much difference. Should I try and find someone sooner, or hold out for someone who seems good and has been recommended?

cheese Interesting that the render and paint might be an issue, that hadn't occurred to me. It's not Victorian though, it's a 1930s ex-council house. Also hadn't thought about the drive being an issue - tearing part up wouldn't be the end of the world as we were hoping to redo it all at some point! The guttering is okay, we noticed some overflow when it rained last year so had a guy with a cherry picker out last year to sort it all and no problems since.

fudge You may be right, we are in Yorkshire so do get our fair share of rain! I can't think of anything we've done unless it is a pipe or something (my feeling is it's more likely to be a problem with the hous though).

PigletJohn in the cupboard it's concrete, in the sitting room it's wood - we had the carpet up just after we moved in and floorboards were sound then. Haven't lifted it up as I'm worried about mould spores (I'm asthmatic and have a baby in the house) but might see if DP will tonight. There are three air bricks at the front - at the side there is a garage which is at floor level and the back is level with the garden. I think there might be a couple under the conservatory too, will check when I don't have a dozing baby on me! No water meter as they couldn't install one, we're on flat rate because of it. Not sure about our neighbours. Yes the boiler has a pressure gage, the pressure does drop sometimes when the weather is cold, but we've not had any issues for a good couple of months now.

Regarding the house, we've had a LOT of issues as the former owner was apparently in the building trade and did a lot of bodge jobs, we've had gas leaks, bathroom leaks, all sorts. My favourite discovery to date was live electrical wires hidden behind a picture! It wouldn't surprise me at all if he'd done something stupid with the air bricks or similar! Would love to get my hands on that man.

Thank you so much all for your thoughts, I feel better and a bit more in control now we have some ideas of what could be responsible. Though ultimately we won't know for sure until the surveyor comes I guess! I may ask DP to pull up carpet tonight as I'm a bit worried about the floorboards.

MerilwenRose Mon 06-Jun-16 13:38:15

I tell a lie about the air bricks; there are just two at the front and one at the back under the conservatory.

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