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Tiny roots coming through a wall!

Discussion in 'Building' started by d000hg, 11 Jan 2019.

  1. d000hg

    d000hg

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    We're in a detached 1870 Victorian house. Investigating some damp on an exterior wall we discovered that under the carpet (it's a concrete floor) are some very fine tendrils extending a fe inches from under the skirting board.
    I at first thought it was dry rot but the strands have a bit of strength akin to worn out cotton and we're fairly sure they are roots.

    Now the wall itself has no visible issues (other than low-level rising damp) and a builder we had on site (fitting a stove) didn't express concern, only curiosity, but I'd obviously want to get to the bottom of it.

    To give a bit more detail, this room has a concrete floor (possibly laid later, we're not sure if it was cavity to being with) which is actually slightly below the outside ground level... there is rising damp the whole length of the house exacerbated by the fact this is the north side of the house. Directly outside the wall is a concrete slab car port perhaps 4m wide. Then our driveway. So there is nothing growing within 20-25 feet of the house and hasn't been for decades, but the roots are clearly newer than that.

    We do have a row of mature sycamore trees about 20-25 feet away the other side of the drive and car-port which are probably of order 60 foot tall. I don't know anything about the root systems of sycamores particularly but the general guideline that root systems extend at least as far as the canopy would out the edge of the house in the firing line.

    I can get photos if people are interested but I wonder what your thoughts are? We will check the rest of the wall internally but so far it seems only a small stretch of wall is affected so if roots are breaching, they are only tiny ones worming through not big ones pushing the bricks apart (yet?). What might we want to do to the wall to check and repair damage, and how might we prevent it happening again... obviously removing the trees is an option but I also wondered about some sort of barrier.

    Lastly - how worrying IS this? Is it the sort of thing that sometimes just happens with old underground mortar, or does it imply certain collapse, or something in between ;)

    Update with photos:
    'Roots' inside:
    IMG_20190102_204448.jpg

    Outside. There is a drain between the house and the concrete slab. Floor level is actually the bottom of the drain so the slab is higher but not touching.
    IMG_20190111_122459.jpg
    IMG_20190111_122527.jpg
    IMG_20190111_122604.jpg

    The external wall, car port, drive and the row of trees (just visible among the leylandii hedge)
    IMG_20190111_122625.jpg

    Ivy on the car port, actually rooted in the ground. Pretty big.
    IMG_20190111_122729.jpg
    IMG_20190111_122710.jpg

    And a plan of the car-port... trees are actually trunks 12-18 inches, ~23 feet away.
    FloorPlan carport.jpg
     

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    Last edited: 11 Jan 2019
  2. jonbey

    jonbey

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    Photos. Not sure what it is, but curious. I guess it could be the tree. But you sure it's not dry rot?

    "below the outside ground level." - was that concrete slab in the car port raised above the damp course? Did it block air bricks? All sounds a bit iffy
     
  3. kingandy2nd

    kingandy2nd

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    Japanese knotweed?
     
  4. wessex101

    wessex101

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    Wet rot fungi can send out mycelium in fine strands that look a lot like fine roots as they search for new wood to eat.
     
  5. d000hg

    d000hg

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    Please see update with photos and a bit of detail, plus a plan.

    I had totally forgotten that the car-port is covered with ivy and that while some of this is in pots, the main plant is not. It is one single plant which is probably 6' tall on top of the wooden structure and with a main trunk 6" thick. This is only about 12-13' from the house whereas the trees are twice as far away.

    Is it more likely the ivy is to blame? That would certainly be easier as I plan to remove the horrible stuff anyway (previous owners loved it and we cleared a 100m brick wall of it which took several days!)
     
  6. jonbey

    jonbey

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    Hmm, Dunno!
    It could be tree or ivy roots. I'd start by clearing the carport thoroughly and cleaning out the drainage trench - roots need moisture and something to grow through, so get to work with a shovel and broom. Spray weedkiller in trench (maybe seeds have fallen in and started sending roots out, although less likely as nothing on top). Then see what happens.

    If from the trees or ivy I'd expect to see obvious signs on the outside. Unless it is under the concrete, but I am not sure they'd make their way to the house without causing noticeable damage to the concrete.

    But ... what is this? A decayed leaf, or roots?

    root.png
     
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  7. jonbey

    jonbey

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    btw, looks like a great house! Just bought it?
     
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  8. d000hg

    d000hg

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    18 months but this is our first real change. We knew about the damp but were surprised to see something coming through the wall! There was more when they pulled the fireplace out to fit a wood-burning stove, though equally small.

    I'd guess that's a 'ghost leaf' but I'll double check. Good spot.

    Clearing the whole area is definitely on "the list" to check if that drain has any cracks and stop it sitting full of wet (I found a huge toad in it taking these photos). At the very least we'll find a way to stop it filling with leaves, possibly dig down a bit deeper to raise the effective floor level compared to outside.
     
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  9. jonbey

    jonbey

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    hmmm, drainage trench with toads - starting to sound like it could be those pesky rot roots ...

    Need a rot expert, or a root expert, to ID those ... I did some image searching, but not joy
     
  10. wessex101

    wessex101

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    Either way you've got to tackle the damp issues. If you can fix that then the wet rot or tree roots will find somewhere else to explore.
     
  11. jonbey

    jonbey

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    This is dry rot... seems furrier and more clingy than your pic though

    [​IMG]
     
  12. d000hg

    d000hg

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    The thing that made me doubt rot was that with a concrete floor, the skirting board is not (obviously) riddled with rot and there isn't any other wood. One bit of carpet grip rot had rotted.

    We have had a damp survey done but they don't pull up carpets or move furniture. He gave us advice on dealing with the damp BUT this is really about preventing the damp affecting the house i.e. it's fine for damp in the bricks if it can't get into the decorations.

    We'll be pulling the plaster and skirting off to get a proper look next week.
     
  13. jonbey

    jonbey

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    well, so long as the room will be stripped, sprayed with something like Everbuild triple action, then the outside issues sorted, and everything dried out, you should be OK ...

    unless it is a root. But if it is, clearing the ground and keeping it all clean and dry should stop roots too.

    Let us know what it is though, if you ever find out.
     
  14. kingandy2nd

    kingandy2nd

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    IMGP0855.JPG This picture is of dry rot that was in my previous house when we bought it. This is it growing across plaster... so I'm sorry to say I agree with the ID from Jonbey
     
  15. lostinthelight

    lostinthelight

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    Should be able to tell if its a root ,if you scrape the outer skin away does it leaves a tougher core ..doesn't dry rot have a musty smell?
     
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