Water through stone

I live in a stone house, built around 1880 as a slaughterhouse, but rennovated in 1993 into a house. I've had all kinds of damp problems, many of which I've fixed. I live in the High Peak and the house is built using local stone.
What I've yet to get to grips wtih is water coming in above the windows. The arrangement on the outside is a stone lintel supported by stone bricks. On the inside the walls are plastered and, usually, a piece of plasterboard has been put in at the top (presumably to square it all off).
Virtually all the windows have some kind of water penetration and some have it at the sides too, and not just at the top (during heavy prolonged rain, water actually drips at the top of the kitchen window).
Has anybody any experience of water problems with stone houses? What kind of solution have you found?
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John Armstrong wrote:

Mmm. Ar is it percahnce a cavity wall? An water dripping down the inside? My late unlamented cottage had this in spades due to rotten bargeboards.
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wrote:

Wouldn't have thought an 1880s slaughterhouse would be built with cavity walls, but you never know.
--
John

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Damn AOL internal service to hell and back!!!

I think cavity wall as for brick was invented decades into the last century so you are right. However stone does have cavities but not for the same reason.
Slaughterhouses have no windows. It sounds like a botched job to me. Get us some photos. And get a friend to help you remove a window and then get us a description of what you found (and photos again.)
Before you do any dismantling check that the lintles are adequate, as a stone wall could collapse if you remove a large unsupported section.
I hope I have not frightenend you off. The remedy is simple and straightforeward, just daunting. (And possibly strenuous.)
Free photo sites such a msn groups can be set up quite easily, then post a link to it here.
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Not so. My parent's house has partly cavity walls and it was built around 1890. The walls change construction all the way up.
Lower ground floor: Single outer skin, cavity, double inner skin. Upper ground: Triple brick solid. 2nd/3rd floor: Double brick solid.
Inside you can actually see where the construction changes, because on the stairs, there will be a useful full length shelf between floor levels, or a less than neatly rendered "ramp". The exterior of the house shows no sign, except the deepness of the window frames.
The house is built on a steepish slope such that the back door is on the lower ground floor, with steps down to the ground level, whilst the front door is on the upper ground floor level with the street. I presume the cavity wall was required to ensure lack of damp in the lower ground floor, which is a proper full height floor, not a cellar, despite being buried at the front. There is an additional cellar underneath! It appears that the Victorian builders saw no point in the cavity above rising damp level. Presumably they hadn't invented cavity insulation by then. The house is essentially dry throughout, except for occasional guttering or roofing problems.
Christian.
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Hi
I dont know what the odds are, but certainly Victorian cavity walls are well known. Half inch cavity was common a century plus ago. Also ratbond brickwork was in use, which is a cavity type of wall.
I know a lot of us have been led to believe there were no Victorian cavity walls, but in reality they were quite common.
Regards, NT
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From the chaotic regions of the Cryptosphere, John Armstrong

Possibly rubble-filled walls? If so, then a cavity tray should have been installed over if the windows were installed as part of the conversion.
As an aside, I have seen Victorian or Edwardian houses in Southport with cavities.
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Hi
Not directly, but analysing the construction/problem a little more might help you.
Does the water come across the top of the lintel? Around the frame? Some other route?
If the sone lintel is set notionally flush with the wall's face but actually protrudes a little you can imagine water coming down the face hitting the lintel and seeping into cracks in the mortar across its top, and then running through to the inside of the house. Either dressing some lead from the course of bricks above or just a good dose of frame sealant might help this one.
If the lintel's 'underside' from the face of the house to the face of the window frame provides a slight slope from high to low then water will tend to cling to this surface and run to the joints between the house and window frame. Adding a drip strip made from a bead of builders silicone might help this. Like this (F is window frame, b is bead of mastic)...
______ F b F F F F F F ===== Do any of those sound useful or consistent with what you can see?
IanC
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This construction generally relies on initial weather resistance of the stone face and pointing, thickness of the walls, and any moisture that gets through to the inside is evaporated from the bare surface due to internal heat.
The wall may be OK under normal rain periods, but the weather resistance fails under prolonged rain as the wall is "overwelmed" by rain water
Common problems are that the stone becomes more permeable due to age the mortar pointing breaks down and becomes permeable cracks appear in the wall the internal surface is obstructed thus denying evaporation.
Friable stone should be cut out and replaced, defective mortar re-pointed and the whole wall given a few coats of good water repelant (Thompsons etc. Point up any obvious cracks.
Also check and seal with silicone mastic at the frame/head/reveal junction - this is a common source of direct water penetration
Internal wall coatings (ie plaster and paper such as blown vinyl) may hamper evaporation, so consider a more permeable cover.
dg

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Hi, I've had exactly the same problem. Also in the Peak Nat Park and with a stone house with windows set in just like yours. I've found that the original windows, from hundreds of years ago when the house was built, don't leak. But the windows that have been added since, leak in the way you've described. Water drips down from the top of the frame mainly, but I can't easily put something to catch it as it drips onto the bottom of the frame - just have to put up with wet carpets. There was some cracked pointing above some of the windows, and fixing that seemed to help a bit, but otherwise I've been told by the family who converted the bit of the house that used to be the barn, that the lintels were put in wrongly and cheaply, and need redoing. Can't afford to do that unfortunately. I'd love to know another answer to this.
If your windows are a more recent addition, wouldn't they be covered by building regs? Though obviously it depends how recently the windows were installed.
Incidentally, my walls are about 2ft thick, constructed from 2 layers with rubble and junk and bits of plastic sheeting between. Very strange.
Liz
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vandelay wrote:

How's your roof and pointing?
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