Home>Discussions>INTERIORS>Living Areas & Workspaces>horsehair plaster over brick!... (+) crystals & crumbling
8 posts / 0 new
Last post
hokemon
horsehair plaster over brick!... (+) crystals & crumbling

I have a home that was built in 1880 in SE PA. The basement gets -0- moisture coming in, at least to the extent that I have not once in the four years of living here, had visible water on the floors of the basement. The walls of the basement are a crumbling, constant mess making horse hair plaster over brick (which is also crumbling). Also, there are white crstals that form on the walls about midway up. Even where I mortared over large cracks in the walls - the white crystals have found their way through the new, gray mortar, and show themselves growing on the exterior! What a disaster this is becoming!

These pictures are of an interior wall, in the middle of the basement. Water does not get here for certain. In hindsight, I should have added pictures of the crystals. Maybe I will do that tonight, especially if requested.

How can I fix this????

...can't post pictures because I am new :/...

Clarence
Re: horsehair plaster over brick!... (+) crystals & crumbling

The crystals are salt.
You have moisture with in the brick walls.
You most likely will not see this type of moisture as being water droplets.
It maybe what is know as riseing dampness ground water coming up from below the bricks.
Guestion are the white crystal marks on the wall in a straight line or do they rise and fall like mountains ?
The salts along with the moisture will first attack the softer plaster forcing it off the brick.After the loss of the plaster the next thing to fail will be the mortar joints.
If any portland cement products were use in pryor repairs this will cause the plaster around the repair to fail at a faster rate.
Spalling bricks will be the last failure before major structural problems.
This problem started more than 10 to 20 years ago or due to some exterior change like other structures being built near or close to this house also could be due to concrete pads , ashpalt paving or many other ground covers.
Do you use salt to remove ice , do you live near where salts would have been used on streets or sidewalks ?
To correct the problem you will have to stop the water migration.

hokemon
Re: horsehair plaster over brick!... (+) crystals & crumbling

Thank you for the reply! So yes the crystals must be from moisture leaking in - but I'm under the impression that this is not the end of the world and is not alarming - and I never have water in my basement in the form of drips, or puddles...

The walls are spalling; blistering, flaking, cracking. It seems there is one coat of a textured white paint, a blue/green coating underneath of that, and then the horsehair plaser, and stone.

Is there some awesome product that I can coat these walls with to stop the madness?

keith3267
Re: horsehair plaster over brick!... (+) crystals & crumbling

Yes there is, but it has to be applied to the outside of the walls, otherwise it just makes things worse. That means that either you or a contractor has to dig all around the perimeter of you foundation to apply it.

hokemon
Re: horsehair plaster over brick!... (+) crystals & crumbling

That's terrible, because I simply do not have the money for it. I'd like to at least get rid of the paint, because there are some minor areas of black staining (mold).

Sombreuil_mongrel
Re: horsehair plaster over brick!... (+) crystals & crumbling

Hi,
The efflorescence is deposited as the water which bears soluble minerals and salts evaporates as it reaches the dryer basement air; the minerals/salts do not evaporate and are left behind as a deposit. A lot of the white crystals is from the mortar between your foundation masonry. The groundwater is dissolving it, over time that becomes very serious. It's not a large amount of water all at once, but it is a small amount of water in motion all the time. The matter has to be addressed from the outside of the basement. Drainage, pointing of the foundation walls, and maybe some sealing and membrane to exclude water.
Casey

hokemon
Re: horsehair plaster over brick!... (+) crystals & crumbling

Probably doesn't help that the house was built in 1880 :/ - Looks like I have a serious project ahead of me...

Could this be something I can do slowly?

dj1
Re: horsehair plaster over brick!... (+) crystals & crumbling
hokemon wrote:

Probably doesn't help that the house was built in 1880 :/ - Looks like I have a serious project ahead of me...

Could this be something I can do slowly?

Slowly? digging with a shovel will be slowly. However this job must be done fast, to avoid rain water to settle in the trench. Not doing anything is better than an open trench around your foundation.

But first see if you can improve the conditions around the house as far as grading and drainage away from the house, down spouts and gutters, the exterior of the building, etc.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.