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Based in Llanberis at the foot of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), Highlife Rope Access is passionate about the history that gives both the landscape and villages of this unique area their character. Unfortunately, many of the dwellings in these villages have often been repaired in haphazard fashion over the years, with cement used extensively on buildings originally built using lime. Often, this compromises the intended function of older buildings, and leads to issues with damp, so a considered approach is welcome when deciding how to deal with such problems. In many instances, modern building techniques aren't suitable for the sorts of buildings found in the area, and so Highlife is now using expertise gained working on historic monuments to offer an affordable and complete package for restoring Wales' beautiful and colourful dwellings to their prior functional selves. Whether you know what you need, or just want advice, please don't hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, and speak to our helpful team to arrange a site visit.
We undertake all manner of guttering, roofing, and masonry repairs. Having seen the benefits of our work on churches and monuments across the nation, we are passionate about the benefits of repointing in lime, and can offer advice on solving damp issues in and around the house. Working on the ground, off scaffolding, or using a combination of rope access and ladders, we are sure that we can provide the right solution for your home. For a more comprehensive list of the services we provide, please feel free to browse the heritage access page.
Case Study: Grouting Voided Walls
People living in old stone houses such as the one pictured above tend to face two main problems: damp and insulation. The modern materials and approaches typically taken to solve these issues in such buildings can often lead to more issues down the line, and people do not realise that a lot can be done to tackle both issues at once, using exclusively traditional materials, in a manner which is sympathetic to the original design and intended function of the structure.
In the building above, as is common to many buildings in Wales, the outer wall is very thick, consisting of two stone faces with a rubble filled void between. The top of the wall is rarely sealed very well, and this means that when the wind blows, it blows down into the cavity, out of any flaws in the masonry, and into the house. This is one of the main sources of the drafts that such buildings are notorious for, and though it may be possible to seal many of the flaws which are letting the drafts in, this approach is very much a sticking plaster on a bigger issue.
A further problem with the voided wall in this circumstance is the tracking of water from wind driven rain to the inside of the building. Historically, these buildings were built with lime, so this wasn't such a problem since wind could easily wick away any moisture from the porous lime, because the moisture would present itself via the entire surface area of the lime mortar. These days however, many of the same walls have been pointed or rendered with cement, which invariably develops cracks that allow water to penetrate. This water can't easily be wicked away, as it is running through small cracks with a much smaller surface area, and therefore the water either becomes trapped in the wall, or continues to run down through cracks and along stones in the cavity until it reaches the inner skin. Thus the benefit of the rubble filled void is lost, and instead the trapped water is expressed as damp internally. Alongside this significant concern, the wind blowing into the void effectively reduces the insulating thickness of the wall by two thirds, meaning that a 600mm wall only has a 200mm thermal mass. But all of these problems can be solved by one simple and cost effective solution.
Grouting of the wall with a quicklime based grout not only fills the void and triples the effective thermal mass of the wall, it creates continuity between the porous lime in both skins of the wall. Combined with proper lime pointing and insulated lime plasters, the reputation that these sorts of buildings are damp, drafty, and cold need no longer apply.
In a world where the cost of energy is increasingly at an alarming rate, and the need for effective insulation and energy saving solutions such as heat pumps is becoming ever more necessary, the grouting of old voided stone walls may yet prove to be an essential part of the puzzle.