Saturday, 25 February 2012

Water, Water Everywhere

If there's an aspect of this house renovation which occasionally winds us up is probably the fact that some of the damage and dereliction could have been so easily avoided. Setting aside the idea of leaving the house shut up for 15 years in the cold and damp, much of the damp did not need to be there in the first place had a little more thought been given to the house's ability to shed water - the drains and the 'apron'. The poor ol' place had clay right up to the walls, and often moss, weeds, brambles and ivy clambering up its lower walls (the ivy right up to the gutters). The gutters, even when they were new seem to have been set up badly.

The roof is brilliant, so the water flows off it easily and the gutters (now cleared of 15 years of blown leaves and pine needles carry the water away well to the down pipes. The down pipes, though, dump their water into the most silly places. In one case into the 3 inch gap between dining room outer wall and the out-building we call the 'office'. In another case into the uphill side of the kitchen and Tigin. This would have made the soil permanently wet just uphill of the kitchen and, with no foundations except for the plinth-base of the kitchen wall, the damp would have flowed as ground-water through the clay to under the kitchen. Here a pathetic sheet of 'cake icing' cement was all that was between your feet and the cold, wet clay. The floor was glistening with damp.

A big part of our work has been about sorting this out and improving it. First we have dug out the floors to 17 inches and separated our feet from the cold, damp clay using 8 inches of '804 sub-base', 6 inches of thermal foam panels and 3 inches of screed. 2nd we will be re-routing gutters and down pipes so that they dump their water on the downhill sides of the house. Then we have had Paddy the Drains in over last weekend to dig gulleys and lay drain pipes which collect up all these down-pipes (green circle and 2nd picture)and send them under the cattle yard and into an outflow downhill from us (see bizarre picture of pipe end!). At some stage we will be creating a concrete apron around the uphill side of the house which will shed water away from the house for a meter.

Finally, if you look at the third picture you have some completely counter-productive places (not so much water-shedding as water-gathering) e.g. where the end of the Tigin's sloping walls fire water straight onto the outside wall of the kitchen (red circle) due to no-one thinking to create a gap here or flashing the join with lead. This we will solve by creating cement 'chevrons' guiding water onto the corrugated iron sheeting.

Ah well. It all makes work for...

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