Monday, March 04, 2013

The Water Is Wide And High

Humidity in old houses - part 1

This month series is not about beautiful inspiration, sorry! A year and half ago, when I began renovating my old stone cottage, I had to face humidity problems and I thought all the research I did then could be useful to someone.

La série de ce mois n'est pas bourrée de belles photos comme d'habitude, désolée! Il y a un an et demi, quand j'ai commencé la rénovation de ma petite maison de pêcheur, j'ai rencontré des problèmes d'humidité et j'ai pensé que les recherches que j'avais alors faites pourraient être utiles à quelqu'un.

It all began with a basic renovation project: all I wanted was remove the drywall that was covering one of my stone wall and put new tiles on the floor.

Tout a commencé par un projet assez simple: retirer le placo sur un de mes murs en pierre et mettre un nouveau carrelage. Mais au premier jour des travaux, voilà ce qu'on a découvert.

But the first day the renovation began, here's how we found the walls behind the drywall.

The stones were white which is a sure sign there was water in the wall: the stones are white when salts form on them, which only happens if there's water.

Les pierres étaient blanches. Du salpêtre, signe imparable que le mur était plein d'eau. Sur la photo suivante, vous pouvez voir jusqu'à quelle hauteur les pierres portent des traces d'humidité.

On that next picture, you can see how high the wall was wet (where the stones are white) and thanks to the worker who is on the picture you can have an idea that it was about a leg-high (if that makes sense).

Did I freak out at that point? I did.
Did I doubt my hability to take care of the problem? I did.

Est-ce que j'ai paniqué à ce moment-là? Oui.
Est-ce que j'ai douté de ma capacité à gérer le problème? Oui.

But I also thought that it would be better to know all the problems rather than ignore them.

Mais j'ai aussi pensé qu'il était mieux de connaître toute l'étendue du problème plutôt que de l'ignorer. J'ai donc demandé aux ouvriers de creuser un petit trou dans le carrelage.

So I asked the workers to dig a small hole in the existing tiles, just to know.

Right under the tiles were a thin wet cement layer and the garden ground, also wet.

Et le résultat était inquiétant: sous le carrelage, une fine couche de ciment mouillé et le sol du jardin, mouillé lui aussi. Je ne pouvais pas juste poser mon nouveau carrelage et ignorer le problème, il me serait revenu dessus comme un boomerang à un moment ou à un autre. Alors j'ai arrêté le chantier pour quelques jours, le temps de me renseigner sur les solutions possibles.

It was very obvious to me that I couldn't just lay the new tiles and ignore the problem as I knew it would strike back one day or an other.

Revenez pour le prochain épisode si vous voulez comprendre le pourquoi des problèmes d'humidité dans les vieilles maisons.

So I dismissed the workers for a few days, so I could research what to do: it was a non-stop job for days and nights. I will sum up these sleepless nights for you in the next part.

If you're very impatient, you can have a glimpse of what the wall looks like today, go here.

See you soon,

I'm linking with:
  House on the Way                                                          


  1. Just found you via modern country, great work you are doing. Not at all jealous of your garden in the bretagne climate-zone... I live in a brick house with lime rendering, you have to follow the house or everything falls off! I hope you did not panic too hard =)

  2. Hi Magali!!!!

    I'm so sorry that this has happened to you my friend:(

    Like you said if you didn't do the fixing now, you would have to do it sometime.
    If I was there I would have brought over a bottle of wine to help you get over
    the shock and then plan what to do.

    I hope it goes quickly and then you can get on with other projects.

    I hope you have a good week and beautiful sunny days!!


  3. Je me souviens très bien de cet été là... un cauchemar ! Mais quand on voit le résultat maintenant, on se dit que tu as eu du courage et que tu as bien fait !

  4. Quel chantier , j'espère que tu trouveras vite une solution , les imprévus étant toujours un peu angoissants . Bon courage .
    Bises . Babette

  5. Oh my gosh!

    I am so glad you were able to fix it and uncover the lovely stone wall. I can't believe they covered it with drywall! Maybe someone wanted to hide it along the way rather than fix it.

    Someday I will show my back porch. Quite a sight. Water never intruded the main house, but ruined the porch because somebody put a patio higher than the house. It's on the fix it list.

  6. You never said where the water was coming from and I am sure someone besides myself is curious! The wall looks lovely in the link post.

  7. looks like what we call rising damp.. hope you find a solution.
    your stone walls are so beautiful.

  8. Thank you for visiting my blog because it gave me the opportunity to discover your interestng blog. I look forward to learning more about your beautiful seaside location and following your renovation.

  9. I am so glad to meet someone from France. I love that country, been there a few times. I hope you found and solved the problem. I can't wait to see how it looks now...Christine

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  11. Hello Magali,
    Sorry I deleted my last post as I spelled your name wrong, and I didn't notice until it posted.
    I love that you are so brave to do this restoration. What a lot of work it must be to start with the walls. Your post is so informative. It is really great of you to share what you are learning as you go through this job. I wish you the very best with it.

  12. Well I'm impatient ( you know that ) so I clicked and OMG that's one gorgeous wall Magali ( I had seen it previously - but had to look again )

  13. Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog and I enjoyed my visit. I am so glad that I discovered your blog.

  14. You are very smart. It's always best to deal with a problem properly the first time around.


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