Why is the plaster peeling off my walls?

When we first looked at this project it was because the customer had the above question. The thin layer of plaster on the shiplap wall was starting to fall off. Nothing was immediately obvious (apart from some windows that had been replaced about 4 yrs ago – or is that obvious?) –  so we had to investigate. There was nothing else for it but to get stuck into that wall…..and thus ensues a Mike Holmes-esque situation.

There were three main contributing factors to the plaster peeling. We found the 4 yr old windows had been installed improperly. What was missing was the caulking – a slight oversight (and that’s sarcasm). In years gone by there had been stucco repairs and we also found evidence that there had also been a porch in this area that had been walled in. The stucco repairs had cracked allowing water ingress. These two factors were exacerbated by the fact that the wall and windows were east facing taking the full brunt of the winter weather. Finally factor number 3. We are still bemused by this. Under one window (the closest to the corner of the house) was a piece of plastic attached to the studs. This made sure that water coming in was trapped and worked full time on the framing and also that area sweated.

The pics below show the extent of the rot which took about 4 yrs. The double bottom plate (2 – 2×4’s) were completely rotten through, and as we know water only goes one way – down – to the basement suite.

It maybe called duct tape……

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Can you spot the three mistakes?

Number 1.

Odd, it maybe called duct tape but its not actually for ducting. Infact its for just about every conceivable situation that needs sticking together. Apollo 13 even used to make a repair to get home safely but not for ducting – but here it is being used for ducting. 

The problem…duct tape does not adequately seal the joints and has a short lifespan. Over a three-month period in 1998, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) researchers tested duct tape and 31 other sealants under accelerated laboratory conditions that mimicked long-term use in the home. They heated air to nearly 170 degrees and chilled it to below 55 degrees before blasting it through ducts. They baked ductwork at temperatures up to 187 degrees to simulate the oven-like conditions of a closed attic under a hot summer sun.

Of all the things they tested, only duct tape failed – and they reported it failed reliably and often quite catastrophically.

Eventually it will dry up and fall off.

Did You Know?

Proper duct sealing can reduce home heating and air-conditioning costs by $60 to $120 a year.

According to the Energy Performance of Buildings Group at LBNL, each year, U.S. residential duct leakage costs consumers $5 billion. This energy loss is equivalent to:

  • The annual oil production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • The annual energy consumption of 13 million cars
  • The carbon dioxide uptake of 7 billion trees is needed to offset the global warming impacts of this energy waste.

    Number 2

    You may also spot in the picture above how certain elements of the venting system for the hood fan are not even attached – and that’s how we found them. Everything really does work better if they are air tight.

    Number 3

    An articulating 90 degree elbow made from glavanised steel may have been more appropriate in this situation……and the correct tape is a HVAC foil tape.

    The Nerve Centre

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    The space you can see in the above picture once incorporated the stacker washer/dryer. This area is at the end of the kitchen off to one side – yes your dirty laundry for all to see. We recommended that we move the laundry down into the garage and convert this space into an office. Plumbing wise this was quite easy as the location in the garage would be right behind the wall you can see above. Off to the left is the powder room – fortunately we were also renovating that so it made access to the plumbing to flip it around fairly easy. Apart from the practicalities and the aesthetics of moving the laundry into the garage, a great benefit is if the washing machine were to flood there would be minimal damage. As it happened the old washer was leaking (albeit slowly) and this was finding its way into the basement suite. Fortuitous timing!

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    Then the space became the temporary site office (i.e where the tea is made).

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    and above the dry wall is in place.

    Prior to dry walling the area we planned the office cables so that as many as possible were hidden.

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    It means plenty of power points, and planning the cable outlets in conjunction with where the pc is going. We provided cables for both cable internet and ADSL. There is also telephone and electrical outlets at desk level, and we had hole drilled in the Caesar stone to take the monitor cables down below the desk and to the pc. We also embedded a 3 inch pvc pipe in the wall as a conduit from the modem area down to the pc so all cables actually ran in the wall.

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    Don’t worry about the concrete floor.

    Just a quick one here. We pulled up the floor tiles in the basement bathroom to discover that the toilet had been leaking and had rotted the plywood sub floor. This probably due to improper installation (a safe bet  considering other work that had been completed) and a toilet shouldn’t leak after 5 years. We pulled out the rotten floor to replace it and discovered that when the waste plumbing had been put in place they hadn’t bothered to concrete back in the floor.

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    This does nothing to help and damp issues! A couple of bags of concrete and we were done.

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