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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorYanntoe
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2020
    That'll do!
    • CommentAuthorYanntoe
    • CommentTimeJul 25th 2020
    Had a read of "Damp Towers" and I have to say it's not encouraging - unless you render the building.
    The Grouting discussion, I find a little confusing as the walls up here are not consolidated - they are effectively a loosely filled void with the stones just stabilising the outer leaves. I think grouting this would just create more of the situation that we see the reveals - i.e. bridging the two leaves everywhere so effectively make the situation much worse. I have to assume they are talking about different types of wall.

    To put this into perspective we have an average of around 2350mm of rainfall each year with eg 300mm in March this year so I'm resigned to this being a tricky problem to fix.

    However, most houses in the locality are not wet so something works!
    • CommentAuthorCliff Pope
    • CommentTimeJul 25th 2020
    It has only slowly dawned on me since following threads on this subject that a "rubble" wall meant literally that - two reasonably sturdy skins, with the internal void just filled up with rubble tipped in. I suppose I'd assumed that the word rubble was a stonemason's disparaging term for random undressed stone picked because it happened to be roughly the right dimensions for the space, with a generous bedding of sloppy mortar to fill the gaps.

    I'd also assumed that large stones that were long enough to go right through the wall were prized because they would add strength and cohesion to the wall. The best face would be on the outer wall, and the inner face was only approximately level because except in the most primitive of cottages it would be generously built up with mortar and render to achieve a nice flat smooth surface, for papering or painting.
    That is how our house (c 1880) is constructed. The internal mortar is not particularly strong - the wall could be demolished by hand alone stone by stone starting at the top - but there are no gaps and it certainly doesn't just slump or run out if you pull out some stones.

    I can see that having stones running right through the wall creates both thermal bridges and easy tracks for water to run past, so I agree it would have been logical to render the outside with something impermeable. However, that was not originally intended, unless the Victorians went to great trouble to do attractive brickwork around doors and windows and then immediately cover it over with render or corrugated iron sheeting. I don't see much vanity there!
    So the design is inherently flawed, which it seems to me can only be mitigated to some extent by a compromise, hence the invisible "render" provided by some kind of damp-proofing solution.

    An alternative would be to batten, insulate and board the inside of the walls. That requires a great deal of effort, extending the wooden panelling in the angled window embrasures, removing and refitting the surrounding mouldings, lengthening the top moulding, extending the wooden cills and remaking the moulding, and moving the skirting board inwards and refitting against the new boarding.
    That would still leave the wall below floorboard level. Conventionally this would be a void between floor and ceiling below, in our house there are no ceilings, just the underside of the exposed joists, socketed into the walls with irregular rectangular gaps, some not very straight because the wood has warped or was never straight. I'm not sure that sealing a joist into a damp wall is a good thing.

    So the whole thing has to be a massive compromise between aesthetics and comfort, complicated by the recent introduction of thermal efficiency into the equation. :)
    • CommentAuthorYanntoe
    • CommentTimeJul 25th 2020
    Absolutely Cliff. It's all a bit of a balancing act isn't it.
    We're pretty lucky as the house is now warm and mostly dry and draught free. We made a really bad mistake replacing the sash windows with replicas glazed with conservation double glazing. A local chap did them and they are not noticeably better than the ones we took out. Look fantastic, but they don't fit well either in terms of the sashes and in terms of how they are fitted into the walls - you can hear the river outside as thought they are open! I've re-draught excluded them so they don't let the wind in, but they are a real disappointment.
    Other than that we now burn wood on our range and woodburner, have a £70 a month electric bill and spend about £350 per year on pellets for our pellet boiler. Relative Humidity is around 60% all year round and we've nearly finished!

    If I can ever get to the stage when I don't need scaffolding up to fix the limework we'll be happy bunnies.
    • CommentAuthorvord
    • CommentTimeJul 26th 2020
    Sounds tricky. I have only once lived in a house with stone walls and water came in there. It used to drip from the top of a window and the crack wasn't where you would expect. It took a hosepipe to find it. Stone is really tricky to seal.

    I think Wales might be quite wet. I've heard of someone else in Wales with a stone built house applying a silicone spray product to the outside over a lime pointed wall. He shouts about it at every opportunity as it seemed to work for him.

    If you were to try a spray on waterproofing product it would be good to chose a mild one that was still a bit breathable. I've spent the last few years removing waterproof stuff as while they might work initially they tend to have little failures after a few years so water can get in but can't get out again so you have the same problem with internal damp just worse.

    Photos would be useful should the internet have developed to the extent that we can post them on here.
    • CommentAuthorYanntoe
    • CommentTimeJul 27th 2020
    Thanks Vord,
    Yep - I think I have to be pragmatic and do the best I can, so I'm going to "grout" a few areas where there might be a problem round the stone lintels above the windows and use a "breathable" Water repellent on the very exposed elevations of the house.

    The obvious problem areas I have already fixed - hopefully, but the reveals are proving very difficult.

    So - lets see.

    However, I've now identified a new "opportunity" to improve the performance of the house .... so I'll start a new thread looking for advice on that in a moment.

    Once again, thanks for your patience folks and I'm grateful for any advice.
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