1

I live in the UK in a house built in the 1930s. It has solid walls made of brick in a bond pattern with no cavity.

The living room has a major problem with damp blooming on the inside wall, centred around the chimney breast but spreading to the sides. This diagram shows the affected area in both plan and inside layout. The wall is a plain gable except for the 2 windows shown.

There is a room above, but there is no sign of damp in there, not even at floor level. The "epicentre" of the damp appears to be around where the red X appears in my drawing. The "1 metre climb" limit would suggest that his is not rising damp.

enter image description here

I first noticed the problem about 10 years ago after refurbishing the room. It became clear that the previous owner had clad the chimney breast with a battens and plywood to cover-up this problem.

There is no plumbing in the area that could be leaking, this is definitely ingress.

Being a gable, there is no gutter which could be leaking.

I've tried a cowl on the top of the chimney - this did not help, so it seems unlikely that the water is entering via the chimney.

The brickwork is rendered outside and there are no major cracks in it. The wall was re-painted about 5 years ago and appeared to be perfect at that time, but it has subsequently begun to flake and crack in certain places. There was no improvement when it was freshly painted.

Experts have looked and have no suggestion as to where this is coming from. Literally, to the point where damp specialists are not prepared to try investigating because they have no confidence in finding it.

What techniques can I use to track down the source of this water?

7
  • is the the chimney is at the peak of the roof?
    – Jasen
    Oct 5, 2020 at 4:48
  • It is, but the room above shows no signs of damp, so I've been assuming it can't be coming from the chimney. I have also had a look at the flashing and it appears good (to the untrained eye, attached to a person not at all happy to be up that high on a ladder!)
    – Lefty
    Oct 5, 2020 at 7:24
  • If it wasn't I'd have suspected the flashing, but figured that it probably was. I've seen wet spots appear 8 metres from the leak. and this time I'm all out of guesses.
    – Jasen
    Oct 5, 2020 at 10:12
  • @Jasen Thanks for trying though! The chimney is clad in the room above and there is fibreglass insulation between it and the plasterboard. But I find it hard to envisage a way in which this is coming from the flashing, down to the chimney breast, yet still hasn't shown itself on the plasterboard 10 years later. Especially given that there is furniture stopping that wall from being properly ventilated. Also, I think the damp problem pre-dates work to replace the flashing.
    – Lefty
    Oct 5, 2020 at 10:24
  • I have found using a infrared camera can be helpful in tracking leaks. My biggest headache was a leak that traveled more than 12’ from the point where the water was entering. The FLIR camera I use is a add on to my phone I use the pro model because of the added sensitivity and software. I have identified leaks that we could not see running down the framework. It is handy for evaluating heating and cooling losses and for electrical inspections you can find a bad connection or overloaded circuit by the heat. You may be able to identify the leak without removing the Sheetrock.
    – Ed Beal
    Oct 5, 2020 at 14:18

1 Answer 1

1

I have found using a infrared camera can be helpful in tracking leaks. My biggest headache was a leak that traveled more than 12’ from the point where the water was entering. The FLIR camera I use is a add on to my phone I use the pro model because of the added sensitivity and software. I have identified leaks that we could not see running down the framework. It is handy for evaluating heating and cooling losses and for electrical inspections you can find a bad connection or overloaded circuit by the heat. You may be able to identify the leak without removing the Sheetrock.here is a hot wire that can be seen with the cover on I don’t have many saved photos but here is an example of a hot wire that can be seen with the cover on. With the water leaks they are green /blue with the standard colors but they show up quite similar to that hot wire. I should mention I have no interest in the FLIR company but this is my 2nd camera I have taken probably thousands of photos and found loose wires both at work and home.

3
  • I've been looking at getting one for about a year now and there really doesn't seem to be any viable competition to FLIR yet. The name has basically become synonymous with the product.
    – Lefty
    Oct 5, 2020 at 18:52
  • There are others but they don’t do the overlay as well in my opinion. sometimes I pull the visible light to the front to figure where the problem is when I have a bunch of wires the visible light photo allows me to see or count to figure which one is the problem. I have put post it notes on the walls to help zero in. it’s funny but not seeing the normal light spectrum throws off my spatial judgement.
    – Ed Beal
    Oct 5, 2020 at 19:14
  • I see what you mean - that image doesn't make a lot of sense with just the IR, you need the context of knowing what you're looking at.
    – Lefty
    Oct 6, 2020 at 9:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.