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Extensive 'Damp' Problem in 1870's Terrace Attic Rooms

Postby ryanarmstrong » Wed Jul 07, 2021 11:08 am

Hi all,

I'd be really grateful for some guidance, as I'm getting to the end of my tether! I can't add any pictures, but I will try and follow up with a reply.

We bought our 1870s mid-terraced house in October 2019 and pretty quickly we realised that there was a damp problem in both attic rooms. This started around the tops of the chimney breasts and has slowly creeped down the walls and on one, has spread to the adjoining wall quite severely.

We had a couple of roofers round, as we automatically expected this to be due to problems with the roof. We were told all sorts of things right from 'I can sort it in a day - just needs some patching to the pointing' to 'you need an entire new roof'. We settled on a roofer who came and reflaunched the chimneys, reinstalled lead flashing where it needed it, repointed where it needed it and sealed the stone stacks.

This work was only completed a few weeks ago, however it looks as if the damp has got worse due to the heavy rain that we have been having. I'm really hoping that this is all in my imagination and that I'm just nervous about it coming back, but I'm wanting to prepare myself for the worst and start thinking about my plan of action if indeed the problem hasn't been solved.

The first question I have is around how long any moisture that was present before the fixes were done would stay in the wall - could it be that this is still coming through?

Another question I have is around salt deposits and condensation. Both of these rooms are at the top of a four story terrace. The front chimney breast (which is the worst) has an open fire on the ground floor that is often used in winter, but the back just has an open fire on the lower ground floor that is not in use. Is there a potential that this damp is actually being caused by condensation in the attic rooms that is reacting with the salt deposits that have seeped through the masonry?

We are planning on removing the plaster on the affected areas and potentially opening up the chimney breasts (which have been bricked up and covered by radiators) and I'm wondering whether this could be our best solution to solving any condensation issues. The rooms themselves are served by Velux windows that are very rarely opened, so I'm thinking that putting the open fires back in might help?

We know the person who sold us the house and have been in touch with the previous owners before them and neither had any problems with damp in these rooms. I'm taking this with a pinch of salt, but if true it seems even stranger.

You might not be able to tell from the pictures, but the damp does appear to be causing the paint to raise and flake/powder and in some areas it feels like it has made some hard, raised areas.

Any help or advice would be appreciated!

Thanks in advance.
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Simply Build It

Postby stoneyboy » Thu Jul 08, 2021 9:19 pm

Hi ryanarmstrong
Since you are in a 4 storey building it is likely that there are multiple flues in each chimney. If all the flues do not have terminals or cowls to stop rainwater ingress, this may be the source of the damp.
Regards S
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