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Thursday, 23 October 2014

New fascia for gutter

The guttering at the front of the house is aluminium and so is well worth keeping, so I am planning to rub them down and repaint. However, the last set of workers managed to dislodge all the brackets on it. This means that re-attaching the gutter to the house is a little trickier than might be expected.

The new lime render will be 'soft' for a while. The curing process where it carbonates takes quite a while and during this it lacks the sort of strength associated with the old cement render. Being in Wales I cannot really afford to go without gutters, especially with winter approaching!

So the answer will be to attach a new fascia board and then fix the gutter to this. So I dashed out and bought some 5 x 1 PSE timbers. Now PSE is not treated, so I have spent a few minutes over the last couple of evening putting on the following:

For the ends I have pre-treated the boards using Osmo 4005 Wood Protector. This will act as an anti-fungal treatment to the weakest point in the wood and also help to stabilise it. I have then applied Osmo's Opaque White Wood Stain over the top using two thin coats. This is Osmo's specialist treatment for high exposure areas (particularly doors and windows). This should last a good number of years, especially since the wall is east facing. My philosophy is to use products that work with the wood in a sympathetic manner and so will last much longer - less maintenance to worry about in the long term!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Concrete blocks full of water

I hope that you can see from this photo that in the corner of the wall there is a dark rectangular patch. Under here is where an old doorway was blocked up using concrete blocks. The first coat of lime render is finding it hard to dry in this area and another similar one. Where it is on bricks and stone the render is rock hard and curing, but it is amazing how much water is being retained by the blocks.

The lime render will of course allow this area to dry out fully in time, but for the time being it is holding up work a tad as the amount of water that needs to be removed is astonishing.

Part of this problem is that since the first lime renderers walked off site it has been raining quite a lot and hence the blocks became sodden. One of those issues that you cannot really foresee, but it does mean that I am even more annoyed with that original company. Very irresponsible and unprofessional.

This acts as a warning to others that if you are lime rendering concrete blocks make sure that you do not wet them too much. It also highlights that when people cement render over these blocks that, if they are wet, they will trap a heck of a lot of moisture in the structure for a long time.

The house is coming along, the base coat is on all over as can be seen in the following shot:

Friday, 3 October 2014

The strength of cement

Look no hands! Nine bricks being supported by their edges by a 10mm thick piece of cement render.

I was planning on capping the wall that abuts into my house (this was to reduce the amount of water that is being channeled into the main house from the wall's poor structure). So I started to rake out the pointing where there was a loose brick. One of course lead to another and before I knew it I had taken down four courses of bricks and it didn't stop there.

The neighbours side had a lovely big ivy growing out of it (unknown to me) and this had blown the render on their side and so I had to remove this (a quick yank on the ivy sufficed!) The missing render can be seen on the left hand edge of the picture. The rest of their render was basically intact and so I left it.

I returned to my side and continued to identify the loose bricks. As it turned out this was a further twelve - all the roots from the various plants that were growing out of the wall had destroyed the mortar between the bricks. As I removed the bricks one by one I was amazed as the top two rows of bricks didn't move at all. As you can see from the picture this meant that the two courses ended up being suspended in mid air just by the cement render on their sides. Needless to say I then had to quickly replace the bricks (this time using a lime mortar) to ensure that it all stayed there.

The great thing of course with the old mortar was that it had left the bricks intact and it was easy to dust them off and re-use them. So I have rebuilt the wall and am now awaiting the caps to ensure that the wall stays a lot drier than it has been for the past couple of decades. More on this with the next post!