Friday, 17 May 2013

Nobody Likes a Damp Patch!

What is this post you may be wondering...This topic is kinda dull so I have attempted to jazz it up a bit with a daft title, make of it what you will, and get your brain out of the gutter!  Or not, you will see why shortly. 

As we all know, water is meant to stay outside of your home, and you do this in four main ways, all of which guarantee you are sitting pretty in a nice dry unfortunately all of the fab four in our place need attention which sucks, but it really could be worse...! hear me talking about the four, so what are they?  

Your Roof
Your Guttering
Your Drainage
Your Walls

All of the above if left unchecked and in a bad state of repair spell disaster and crazy money to put right.  So check often and keep on top of this stuff....Here's what needs to be done, and how we intend to do it!

Your Roof

Lets start with the worst and most expensive offender, your roof!  A leaking roof is a huge expense if it all has to be replaced, but I have read that a roof should last anywhere between 10 and 100 years depending on the roof (Google, I love you!).  Those flat-ish, felt roofs wear out quickest, with well maintained slate lasting up to 100 years.

So our original slate roof has been replaced possibly about 10-15 years ago with some slate-esque man made concrete composite type stuff.  I don't think it does the house justice, but I don't have the £15,000 - £20,000 to reinstate it as it was, so we're living with it for as long as will be humanly possible!  So happy days, all we have is some loose lead flashing round one of the chimney pots, which a roofing contractor can fix for not a lot of money in comparison.  We will be getting on that very soon now spring has finally sprung, and I will share costs etc.!

Your Guttering

I will also include fascias and soffits here as they need to be in good repair too, our front elevation needs to be replaced completely, as it is the original 110+ year old soft wood with a gaping hole right in the middle for water and critters to get into (a side note, a previous owner has put wire mesh in the hole, instead of fixing it, dumb, but at least I don't have some protected bats, bees or swallows up there which would spell disaster for my plans for a awesome master suite!).  We have already had a quote for £650, or £500, if our adjoined neighbour has theirs done at the same time, which they are considering now....Result!

Our down pipe had a huge gaping hole in it which we estimate has been there forever, as we have already uncovered the carnage it has caused inside the house.  It was so bad, that in heavy rain you could literally hear the water running under the suspended floor....I mean holy crap there was a river under there!

That brown crap amongst the other crap was a
floor joist!
Your Drainage

We have one drain round the front of the house, which was blocked and a damaged down pipe + blocked drain  = Damage x £££££££££.  Plus there is no drainage round the back at all.....awesome!  We have gross water butts and some hosepipe which is about as effective as a chocolate fireguard. 

The hubby showing off his DIY muscles with the water
butt in the background
So in the UK, you can't plumb your rainwater into the mains without permission, the water companies get very displeased when you do that, so they charge you a fortune, see here for more info.  So we are going to dig a soak-away instead.  Which in layman terms in a giant hole in your back garden, that you fill with sand, bricks, rubble and other crap, back fill and then turf over, the guttering then routes into the hole, letting the rain water soak in to the ground in its own time.  

We are going upmarket, and getting these cells, that kind of look like milk crates that you tie together and wrap in a membrane, this prevents the soil settling down into the hole, meaning you need to dig the whole thing out every so often...rubble can be free but we think digging holes for the rest of our days to top it up sounds rubbish, so the fancy stuff is worth the cash, like this here where they explain it better than me.

Next epic fail for the house and owners past is that the ground outside is above the floor level inside, and the concrete is set right up to the brickwork...a very bad idea, as the bricks act like sponges and pull the water up the walls, giving you rising damp.  So we have had a great time sledgehammering a drainage channel around the entire property, which I will share in more detail soon...literally back breaking but free!  

Your Walls

So, your brick work, siding or whatever, needs to maintained so water runs off.  So we have bricks, and I have read that your pointing, or the mortar that goes between the bricks should be softer than the bricks themselves, so then the pointing gets worn out over the years and the bricks are not damaged by water which freezes and pulls their faces off, called spalling, like this here.

The litany of issues above, mean that a lot of our pointing is shot to bits, and needs to be re-done.  Plus some previous owner has got the professionals in at some stage who have used concrete mortar in places, that doesn't go deep enough, so the surrounding bricks have spalled.  I know they got professionals in as the joints they have done are the fancy ones that an avid DIYer wouldn't tackle (struck vs. bucket handle, which is done with guess what?  A bucket handle!).  

Some idiot has painted over blown render too (epic fail number...oh hell, I've already lost count!), huge mistake, and yet more spalling has been the result.  So I will be tackling this very soon armed with some fab tutorials from YouTube and some relatively inexpensive tools, which will be dull and very time consuming, but a fraction of the cost of getting in the professionals.  You can actually see the spots where I have started to pick off the render in the picture of the hubby above, such a dull and time consuming job, especially when the dog eats the render and you have to go wrestle her, stupid animal!

Last on the agenda, is damp proofing, the membrane that stops the water soaking up the walls, yep, this is super important, and yep we totally needed this done too, and as far as I know can't be DIYd!  We did manage to save a ton of cash even though we got a specialist company in, down side is that it ended in an unforeseen disaster, which I will fill you in on very soon.  

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