Home Informative Articles Article 14 - What price a correct diagnosis of a damp chimney breast?
Article 14 - What price a correct diagnosis of a damp chimney breast? PDF Print E-mail

This article tells the true story how a property owner ended up spending £14,000 unnecessarily due to the incorrect diagnosis of a damp problem on a chimney breast.

A property in the South of England was suffering from the presence of dampness on a chimney breast and the wall immediately adjacent to it in a first floor bedroom. The owner called in a roofer who renewed the flashing and soakers around the chimney stack but alas the damp problem persisted. Other builders were consulted which resulted in the flaunching being renewed, the stack repointed and a surface water repellent applied but still the dampness persisted. Eventually out of shear frustration the property owner paid for the chimney stack to be demolished and rebuilt!

Having spent £14,000 demolishing and rebuilding a new chimney stack and some eighteen months later the damp problem still persisted!

Distraught the property owner engaged the services of a damp consultant who identified the presence of very heavy hygroscopic (moisture attracting) salt contamination in the areas of dampness. Hygroscopic salts are present in large quantities in chimney flues where coal has been burnt. As a result of previous moisture penetration they had leached through to the internal decorative surface of the chimney breast and being hygroscopic (moisture attracting) the damp patches appeared worse when it was raining giving the appearance of an ongoing leak whereas the moisture was in fact being absorbed from the atmosphere. The actual chimney breast was found to be dry which one would expect after having £14,000 lavished on it!

Dampness on chimney breasts is a common problem and in this case everyone at the time did what they genuinely believed to be correct. Very probably the original diagnosis and work (renewing the flashing and soakers) was correct but unfortunately neither the original roofer nor any of those that followed had the experience or knowledge to foresee the consequences (hygroscopic salt contamination) of moisture leaking into a property via a chimney breast. It is very difficult to protect ourselves from this type of situation as we tend to accept people at face value and if they claim to be good at what they do then who are we to challenge this?

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Contact Peter: Email - info@dampdecay.co.uk - Telephone: 015242 71794