We have just decided to decorate our house after finally settling in (it was built circa 1935 and has solid walls). We suspected that we had a damp problem but didn't know the extent of until now.
In the living room at the font of the house we stripped the wallpaper and removed the skirting boards to discover that the bottom 18" has been replastered at some point. There was some mould growth along the front wall (around the window) and in patches on the party wall (we have since cleaned these with a bleach/water mix). There is also a white crusty deposit on the wall where the electric fireplace and surround was (we haven't done anything about this yet). The floor is a wooden suspended type that seems structurally sound altough some of the boards have been replaced by the front window.
In the dining room to the back of the house we stripped the paint off the walls (a long and painful process involving glue that couldn't be removed but that's another story) and the skirting boards again. This time there is no obviously mould growth but the walls have been completely replastered (probably because of the kitchen extension that joins on to it). However the bottom 18" or so the plaster is darker and there are some patches of white crusty deposit again. The floor is covered with quarry tiles.
The one bit of decorating we have done is to fit a laminate floor in both rooms. We use a PVC adhesive to seal the quarry tiles and used a damp proof membrane beneath the underlay.
Things start to get interesting and more complicated when it rains though...
In the living room the bottom 18" of the wall is (in places) wet when you touch it and because we have taken the skirting board off we can tell the bricks are wet. In the dining room the walls are the same but not to the same extent and not for the full length of the party wall. Outside the house there the ground does gradually slope towards the house. The gravelled front garden has a blue plastic sheeting underneath which doesn't appear to let water soak through (something we know we have to sort out in the summer!). This means that water runs of the sheet towards the house and forms in a big puddle on the concrete slab infront of our front wall. This can, when it rains alot, become a deep puddle (about 1" deep).
Is this puddle the root cause of our damp problems? Is the water from the puddle soaking into the concrete, transfering into our foundation and up our walls? There is a chemical damp proof course through the house which we think was installed in 1996. We have a "guarantee" for it but we can't trace the company that did the work. Could this have been bridge in some way causing damp to rise up (penetrate) the walls?
We have had a free "survey" done by a damp proofing company who identified the problem as rising damp and have recommended a new damp proof course be installed (surprise, surprise).
Before we commit to this sort of action can anyone help and give us some more advice?
I think the best way ahead is to bring forward your plan in the pipe line and get rid of any materials that are channeling surface water towards your property.
Do it now when there is still lots of rain about to test wether it has an effect.
Wait till summer and you may get a false indication.
Is there anything that can be done to improve on the slope of the ground situation.(terracing with added drainage maybe?).
Improving the ground drainage situation in general around your property is worth researching.
All paths, patios etc. should slope away from the property and shouldn't be "puddling".(Any that are should be remedied).
Ultimately, you may still have to bite the bullet and re-install the chemical damp course. If you are handy and don't mind a bit hard graft, there are products and tools that are easy to install and use; that will save you a packet!!!
Thank you for your reply. You have a valid point about fixing the slope at the front of the house now rather than later. The moment we get a dry day we will take the blue sheet away at the very least.
We will let you know how we get on
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