I thought I would tackle a common problem in old houses and that is the issue with damp and mould. Boring? yes but an issue that needs to be dealt with in this old house.
We have a damp and mould issue here. As our house is a listed building it is tricky to know how to solve the problems. A listed building means that we have to respect the unique aspects of the building and keep as much intact as possible. Old houses have very little foundations so have rising damp as well as often having condensation issues and general damp problems.
The old house has the original Georgian windows and even older windows at the back of the house. This means that we can’t just replace them with newer windows and double glazing. Every morning, we have condensation pouring down the windows and this in turn, creates mould and eventually, rotten wooden frames.The previous owners just painted over some of the rot too which makes the paint flake off.
In the loft we have condensation running down the inside of the roof as the lining is not allowing the house to breathe. Damp is getting in somewhere between the oldest and front of the building and creating damp plaster work and blooming wet patches.Behind wardrobes, we have mould growing and finally, we have rising damp in the lounge where the outside patio is higher than the floor. Quite a few issues!
- MOULD This photograph was taken just 9 months after I decorated this bedroom so this mould grew fast and this was a shock! I have been tackling getting rid of the mould that has grown behind the wardrobes. I know that this will grow back in time as the source of our damp issues have not been sorted but at least the children are not breathing in mould spores! They can be very bad for our health so this was a priority. The mould has grown through the paint and is probably caused by a number of reasons. The wall is an outside one and I suspect the wall is allowing water in somewhere. I will have to investigate this further. It’s also a very cold wall and the difference in temperature is also contributing to the damp. Equally, we were keeping the doors closed and the air has not been allowed to circulate.I have tried bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar, the mould spray you can buy and bleach to get rid of it. The neat bleach is definitely the best and this has all gone now. To stop this happening again, or to minimise it, we have left the wardrobes slightly away from the wall, we keep the window open a little and the radiator is kept on at a low temperature constantly.
- CONDENSATION. Condensation is a common problem in many houses, old or not. It is caused by warm air meeting colder air or when there is too much humidity in your house. We have discovered that the extractor fan in the upstairs shower room was blocked off in the loft (!) so that had to be fixed. We have also put in an extractor fan in the downstairs bathroom which has helped. The damp air is taken to the roof which has a lining that does not allow the house to breathe though….The other things to stop condensation in your house is try not to dry clothing indoors and open a window when boiling water or cooking. Our kitchen is small so we can’t put an extractor in there but this would help too. Each morning we use a Karcher to suck up the water on the windows! It’s a great device and I would recommend it…I’m always amazed how much water there is each day!
- RISING DAMP. This is caused by the damp rising through the brickwork of your house or wall. It will only stop when the gravity is stronger that the weight of the water. This is very common in old stone and brickwork. We have the common sign of rising damp in our lounge when the outdoor patio is higher than the floor of the room. The old house does not have a damp proof course as newer house do but has been treated with injections of a water-repellent chemical in the past. I’m not really sure this has done anything! We basically need to dig up the patio and relay it……
- THE ROOF. Although the roof was replaced in the 1980’s we know that we have issues with it.These issues are causing many of the other problems. Apparently in the 1980’s, a new liner for roofs was invented that meant that it could be stood on but the material does not allow the building to breathe! We also know that asbestos was used in the cement that is holding the roof tiles. We need to replace this roof basically….not an easy or cheap solution! Being a listed building we have the added complication of having to use the correct roof slate too. But, this is something that needs to be done so we hope to do this job soon.
All in all, this house is a labour of love. When you live in an old house you discover that you just have to live with certain things on a daily basis and not get stressed by them! The damp and resulting mould are one of those things I suppose.
Bring on the better weather!
OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES!