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Damp Chimney Breast

Chimney Breasts are very prone to damp patches. The main reasons for dampness occuring on chimney breasts is down to the following:

  • Rising dampness- This will be on the ground floor (skirting board level) and is ground water coming up through the brickwork. Salt tidal marks or dark shadowy areas on the plaster/ crumbling plaster/ peeling wallpaper and blistering paint are all tell tales signs.
  • Penetrative dampness- Alot of chimney stacks are exposed to the elements being on a gable wall so rainwater slowly over years gets into the chimney breast and starts to appear on the plasterwork particularly either side of the breast in the alcoves. Ceilings also become damp in this region where the plaster has sucked the moisture across (old lath and plaster ceilings are terrible for this).
  • Faulty roofing goods- Lead flashing/ uncapped pots/ poor chimney stack re-pointing/ poor flaunching all allow moisture to enter the chimney stack and make its way down into the home slowly showing the water marks on chimney breasts.
  • SALT CONTAMINATION "Hygroscopic chimney salts" read the following carefully:

Chimney breasts in old properties (50+yrs old) are very prone to a salt and mineral build up that contaminates the plasterwork and leaves unusual brown or yellow stains on the paint or paper. The salt contamination is caused by smoke billowing up the chimney breast for many years when the majority of homes were heated via coal or wood. This soot and smoke contains the salts, minerals, tars and other chemicals that we now see affect so many chimney breasts making them look and feel damp. Salt is very absorbant 'hygroscopic' so it pulls moisture damp into the plasterwork from the surrounding warm air (warm air holds more moisture than cool air). The contamination is extemely hard to eradicate fully here unlike salt contamiantion from rising dampness so:


MILD CASE: Remove all contaminated plasterwork 300mm past last damp readings, apply salt neutraliser, waterproof render areas of concern then re-skim the entire chimney breast.

SEVERE CASES: The whole chimney would be de-plastered, wrapped in a mesh membrane (similar to that we use in basements) then plastered directly onto. This method is guaranteed to never allow the passage of salt or moisture to the surface of the plaster again!

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03 December 2020
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