Conifer Property Services Ltd were called in to help with a building in Wales that was exceptionally damp, suffering from both rising damp and penetrating damp problems due to its age, construction, exposed location and the fact that the building next door had been torn down leaving a completely exposed gable end with no weather proofing.
The poor owners were living with very wet walls and even ceilings and the damp smells and spores in the atmosphere were causing constant respiratory illness for the family.
The inside of the building, although Victorian, was fairly modern so retaining character features was not an issue for much of the building on this occasion. As the internal walls were all constructed of timber stud and lathe, there was a critical requirement to protect them from the damp that was being passed on from the exterior walls all through the building on both floors. As the damp was so severe, we had to make sure that the moisture could find egress from the building without causing other problems. Another problem that we faced on this particular project was that we could not, at that time, get permission to access the land adjacent to the building to repair the exposed gable.
Due to these criteria, a traditional, render water proofing system was not employed - the customers were also keen to avoid as much dust as possible due to the chest complaints they were already suffering from (Water proof rendering involves hacking off all of the existing render before the job can even be started and this can be extremely messy and would also require a skip).
The solution was a membrane damp proofing system. We had no need to plaster directly onto the membrane on this occasion but we still decided to use Oldroyd Xp Plaster Membrane so that we could 'dot and dab' plasterboards straight onto the membrane to save room space and then finish with a plaster skim. One of the many advantages with a membrane system is that it can be shaped around corners and can pass through and behind stud walls to offer complete protection.
As you can see from the pictures opposite, we cut into the existing plasterwork where it met the stud walls and passed the membrane behind these walls. To make things more complicated, the membrane also had to pass through floors and ceiling to complete the system. We even took the membrane through the bedroom ceilings and up into the attic along the gable wall to catch any moisture and transfer it straight down behind the membrane back into the ground. This solved the wet ceiling problem! Once the plasterboards were fixed to the membrane using drywall adhesive the joins were filled and the walls were finished with a plaster skim.
On the ground floor a small cutting a few inches wide had to be made in the concrete floor to allow the membrane to pass through the DPM and straight into the soil below. Once the membrane was fitted the concrete was replaced and a slim-line membrane - Oldroyd Xs Membrane - was close fitted to the floor and taped at the edges to the wall membranes to create a complete seal. Previously the carpets in the property were damp and contained mould, this complete membrane system will stop this completely in the future. Obviously this slim-line membrane system would not be used were there is large volume water movement such as in a basement or a house built into the side of a hill. This particular house only suffered with moderate damp in the floor and it was the walls, particularly the exposed gable, that were excessively damp.
Distinct advantages of membrane over traditional cementitious tanking methods:
1) Extended lifespan and guaranteed effectiveness when properly fitted to Safeguard Europe recommendations.
2) Aesthetics: The Oldroyd Xp Plaster Membrane will hug the existing shape of the walls and may be plastered onto directly. This can be utilised to retain the character and curves of the old walls. Although we often recommend that the exterior walls are stud-walled for insulation purposes we understand that, for character homes (particularly old cottages, barn conversions, etc.), retaining the appearance and quirkiness of the home is often crucial to the customer. This system allows the character of the home to be retained whilst giving state of the art damp protection.
3) Environmental: It is also worth mentioning that the membrane creates an air gap due to its profiled shape and, in addition to its damp proofing properties, this improves the U-Value of the wall significantly. The air gap is not big enough to allow convection and so is an effective reducer of heat loss (double glazing works in a similar way). Even without secondary insulation the membrane system and the secondary cavity created by the 'dot and dab' method will help to make the house warmer and more 'energy efficient' (as it did with the house case studied above, please see customer testimonial below), and will take away any cold, clamminess to the exterior walls making them feel warmer to the touch. This coupled with the eradication of damp and associated smells in the atmosphere all helps to make a healthier, more comfortable environment. Also the membrane is made of 70% recycled material!
4) When the walls are 'dot and dabbed' with plasterboard or plastered with a bonding coat essential space can be saved whilst still delivering significant insulative benefits.
5) Newly covered walls can then be finished with Thistle Boardfinish or Multifinish or similar as appropriate. Decorating may be undertaken as soon as the plaster is dry – another advantage with this system is that decorating may take place after days rather than weeks.
This particular project was ready for full decoration and carpeting within days of our completion. A traditional chemical render and cementitious water proofing solution could take months to fully dry out, particularly on random stone walls where the render could be anything up to 75mm (3") thick in places in order to get the walls plumb and level. For the customer this could mean living in a 'building site' for a protracted period!
Please see our customer's comments below, regarding the system fitted and about working with Conifer Property Services Ltd / Conifer Basements Ltd
"We had a big damp problem with our house, but Conifer came up with a great solution, that worked a treat. Our house is now warm and dry after years of smelling musty and feeling cold and clammy. We have saved a lot of money on our heating bills since the protective membrane was fitted.
We also had a problem with our gable-end wall, and again Conifer sorted it out for us. This was all done on a fairly low budget, but the workmanship was first class, as was their after care service. We would not hesitate to recommend Conifer Property Services to anyone with damp and/or structural problems..."
Bryn and Carrie Jones