Author Topic: Trials and tribulations of owning a house  (Read 3736 times)

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Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2021, 09:05:16 AM »
I see what looks like a fairly developed crack all up along the seam between the chimney and the roof, in those pix. So it's more than just dry streaks and paint ripples developing? -- even if that black crack (or mold?) effect developed first, they might still be related.

You may be looking at a steam pressure effect, from fireplace temps mixed with high humidity. How often does the fireplace get used?

I've never had to deal with that effect before in the buildings made by my family's small factory, but I have seen a lot of effects from normal climate temperature fluctuations combined with humidity, including pseudo leaks which aren't leaks at all though they can create problems that lead to leaks and scale up from there! If the seal between your ceiling and the chimney got broken somehow (seismic tremor or tornado passing nearby, I've seen that happen in the ceiling I'm looking at right this moment above my screen years ago), or was never sufficiently sealed to begin with, moisture from inside the house could be wicking into and behind the paint layer and then, converting to steam (from fireplace temps), it could travel around collect into dry pool effects pooching out the paint, shifting phases and moving around more as the fireplace gets used.

That sounds like science fiction, but I've seen weird things happen from cascading humidity effects! I wouldn't have thought your setup to be vulnerable to that: our buildings are made of wood with intentional dead air spaces for added insulation, and being made in West TN we get ALL THE TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY VARIATIONS  :wow: :timeout: :hide: when putting the buildings together, which then can convert to real problems in the field over a period of ten or even five years. (Not usually, but often enough that we do photo-forensic studies at least once a year on average.)

But then I saw that black crack effect up along the joint line, and I instantly wondered how porous that might be; because if I saw that in one of our buildings, I would immediately start suspecting moisture infiltration from along that joint-line. We use the highest grade silicone caulking to religiously seal all our joints, even when the facings have no breaches (from lags or whatever holding them together), inside and outside the jointlines, JUST IN CASE. (Not sure you'd want to do that up there, but...)

I just recalled, I've seen the same paint effect over two ancient disused brick fireplaces in my home church (where I grew up), which now look like some kind of square wall-columns in our sanctuary but originally they were chimneys from back in the church's original structure (in the 1800s sometime I think). Over a very long period of time, the temperature variations inside the air columns of those covered-up chimneys, combined with small cracks in the joint seams developing naturally over time, starting giving us slowly developing dry run lines and paint pooching pockets. When we remodeled the sanctuary a few years ago, that was a key target to fix, which involved taking off all the paint over whatever was between the brick and the paint (not sure what that was, I was attending somewhere else at the time), and resurfacing and resealing everything before repainting over it. And that was an unused chimney (or two of them rather), which hadn't had fire in it for since before World War One at least!

Now personally I would have said, don't reface the chimneys, much less paint over them again, just clean the bricks and work around them (but of course seal up the chimneys as much as possible otherwise). Now that I recall, I DID say that when Mom was talking to me about the renovation work and showed me photos (she agreed with me). But they wanted to hide the chimneys again, so we're back to where we were. I'll be curious to see how long it lasts before we get those effects again.

I'd bet a Coke something like that is causing your effects, especially after hearing that so much effort has already gone into trying to detect and seal leaks on the outside, combined with never finding any wetness per se with the effects themselves.


About to post when I saw Steve's question and your reply. Sending a camera up through the chimney's interior would be an interesting experiment (that I'd want to try anyway for more evidence, positive or negative, to weigh theories), but like you emphasized the effects are bone dry.
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Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2021, 09:09:13 AM »
Looking at that upper seam crack again, specifically on the right hand side, there seems to be a compression effect from weight above pushing down to create a (smaller but visible) right-angle crack angling out (at 90 degrees) from the rightward end of the seam crack.

Paint can ripple from compression effects over time, too (in this case as your cinderblocks very slightly settle under their own weigh), so that might be a contributing factor, though I'm still betting on 'dry' humidity effects coming from inside your house.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

Offline Jarhead0331

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2021, 09:18:00 AM »
Looking at that upper seam crack again, specifically on the right hand side, there seems to be a compression effect from weight above pushing down to create a (smaller but visible) right-angle crack angling out (at 90 degrees) from the rightward end of the seam crack.

Paint can ripple from compression effects over time, too (in this case as your cinderblocks very slightly settle under their own weigh), so that might be a contributing factor, though I'm still betting on 'dry' humidity effects coming from inside your house.

Overall, I think the humidity theory is an interesting one, and now that I think about it, that might be something that someone mentioned, either the roofer or the chimney guy. I'm embarrassed to admit that I have not used the fireplace since I bought the home in 2015. By the way, the house was built in 1974.

How would one go about addressing the problem if it was in fact an interior issue with humidity? If that was the problem, why would it only be occurring on the chimney and not on any other surface in the home?
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Offline steve58

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2021, 09:46:28 AM »
How well is that right side window sealed/caulked?  Does the wind blow towards that side of the house?  That overhang looks pretty wide, but with wind & rain, anything is possible.
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Offline Gusington

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2021, 09:49:21 AM »
^Wind is a good point - it can make water do things you would never think of, especially if a window is nearby.
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Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2021, 10:05:27 AM »
How would one go about addressing the problem if it was in fact an interior issue with humidity? If that was the problem, why would it only be occurring on the chimney and not on any other surface in the home?

I can think of two somewhat interrelated reasons.

1.) the special weight of that chimney has caused the crack along the seam joint above it, which would be the main source of infiltrating 'dry' humidity. (The right angle crack and, unless this is an optical illusion, the press-down of that part of the ceiling near that end of the crack, is evidence in favor of a vertical shift of some kind. The cinderblocks slowly settling could pull part of the ceiling down with it there. I've seen this effect happen MUCH more extensively in a 40+foot long multi part roof, progressively collapsing each roof piece in sequence, thanks to hidden interior damage to the first roof piece created during its offloading from a flatbed. Long story.)

2.) Even without using your fireplace, you've got a long cold column of air in there (it isn't a vacuum), which transfers temperature effects over time through the cinderblock and whatever surfacing you've got between the blocks and the paint. This was EXACTLY what happened with our (much more sealed up) chimneys at church. The effect would be (relatively) faster, I'd guess, if your fireplace was actively steaming some of that atmospheric moisture, on occasion: the molecules would speed up and they'd shift around more, creating more pockets.


In addressing the problem... I've heard that 'ironing' the paint (the iron can't be very hot of course, but it needs to be seriously warm) can help smooth out the problem, although I would definitely run that theory past several other people first (and/or research the idea), since I don't have any experience with it myself. I think. (Part of my memory now thinks I recall doing that to wallpaper before. But wallpaper isn't paint. Different paint chemistries might make a significant difference, too, e.g. latex vs whatever.)

That crack at the fireplace-ceiling joint has ABSOLUTELY GOT to be cleaned out (there's probably mold in it) and sealed up, in ANY case; and if moisture was infiltrating behind the paint from that source, then naturally that will cease (for a while, until new stress cracks develop).

The obvious total solution to the problem (aside from new cracking at the ceiling joint which is probably just going to keep happening slowly over time), is to take all the paint and facing off the chimney, and then... well, naked cinderblocking will look Godawful, it isn't brick. I'm very unsure what to put over it. Lay actual bricks over it for decorative purposes?? Super-stained pressure-treated wood? (You aren't using the fireplace, so no fire risk, but for selling the house later you'd want to future proof it against someone using the fireplace, I'm unsure what kind of wood paneling would be appropriate for that, if any.)

I'm going to run all this past Mom and Dad and see what they come up with.
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Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

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Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2021, 10:10:01 AM »
^Wind is a good point - it can make water do things you would never think of, especially if a window is nearby.

Very much agree, even if we're talking about atmospheric (and thus 'dry') humidity. Do you have one of those temperature-shooty things? (We've had a pair for ages, originally for use at work.) I'd check if there was a significant (lower) temp difference on the chimney surface, and then whether that difference continues or perhaps gradients over near the window.

I do notice that the cracked joint seam doesn't seem to continue over to the window, which adds weight (pun intended ;) ) to that being a settlement effect: the window isn't infiltrating moisture (even 'dry' moisture) from along that line.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

Offline z1812

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #37 on: February 09, 2021, 10:25:29 AM »
I have done my fair share of water leak trouble-shooting during my work life. In my experience, as often as not, the water has traveled from one location to another.

As you have had sealing and flashing done in the obvious area without success, it seems reasonable to consider that the water may be traveling from another area.

I would wait until there has been enough dry weather to presume the chimney area has dried. Then as a previous poster suggested, I would water test that area only, just to confirm whether it is the source of the leak. If it is not then other areas of the roof should be tested working along the edges of the roof first. Then working backwards out from around the Chimney.

After the leak has been identified and waterproofed, then as another poster suggested, redo the inside area around the fireplace with marine grade drywall. Water leaks can be frustrating to track down. Before spending any more money on repairs, and as you do not wish to do the work yourself, use a well regarded contractor. Please do not do any more repair work without discovering the leak. It will most likely only cost you more in the long run.

This is all very logical and I agree.

The problem is I never see water inside. Ever. The ceiling and wall are never wet. I just see dry streaks and the paint on the concrete chimney is starting to ripple. How do you track down a leak when you never see the water!?

Generally, when this is the case, you must open the inside walls in order to have a good look about.

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #38 on: February 09, 2021, 10:34:21 AM »
Mom generally agrees (with the relatively 'dry' humidity theory I mean), having looked at the photos; and adds that it looks like there's nothing between the paint and the cinderblocking? Some areas have thicker and thinner paint, and the thinner paint has what looks like cinderblocking texture underneath. Anyway, cinderblocks are notorious for sweating (as she reminded me).

She also asked how thoroughly that covering on the front of your fireplace is sealing off the chimney, since otherwise you're going to get a flue effect, even with the chimney's metal lid closed (the metal lid being impossible to seal off airflow completely, as we ourselves know from long experience in our house ;) ), and the airflow is going to make the cinderblocking sweat more. The sweating isn't a problem for us, because our fireplace has open-faced brick: it probably happens, but with direct facial exposure to the atmosphere inside the house, the humidity just equalizes with the atmosphere.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 10:36:02 AM by JasonPratt »
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

Offline Toonces

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #39 on: February 09, 2021, 11:34:14 AM »
What an interesting thread!

When you get your troubles addressed, JH, I have one I want to post up.

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Offline Gusington

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #40 on: February 09, 2021, 12:03:10 PM »
Star has done a lot of *ahem* interesting work.
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Offline Jarhead0331

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #41 on: February 09, 2021, 12:06:14 PM »
...and who knew Pratts mom had so much construction street cred?
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Offline GDS_Starfury

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #42 on: February 09, 2021, 01:14:43 PM »
Toonces - Don't ask me, I just close my eyes and take it.

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Offline Jarhead0331

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #43 on: February 09, 2021, 01:16:41 PM »
^That is probably where all this is headed.
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Offline Sir Slash

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Re: Trials and tribulations of owning a house
« Reply #44 on: February 09, 2021, 01:56:03 PM »
If you need something demolished, I'll bring the grandkids by. Everything standing will be not-standing in under 30 min. And they work cheap....Cheetos and Dunking Sticks.  :bd:
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