Chris has been working hard getting the floor of the cellar prepared for the mechanical and electrical systems installation (which will be covered in a future blog post).
Although most cellars are out of sight, out of mind, the cellar at Orleton Manor has been one of the centres of attention in this project. A great attention to detail has gone into the floors, walls and timber repairs in this most humble of service spaces - the cellar. It's a well-built space of stone walls and a cobbled floor that was incredibly damp and inhospitable before the works started. This was mainly due to the usual suspects of incompatible materials but also poor air flow across the space which has now been addressed.
Given that, by its nature, the cellar is underground, it is near impossible to completely and sympathetically stop the ingress of water. Yes, a modern tanking membrane or concrete box would stop the water penetrating into the space, but this would have dire consequences on the historic material behind. As with all historic buildings, the focus is on controlling the movement of water rather than stopping it completely - if you block one path, the water will take the next path of least resistance which could be even more damaging.
The system of works in place here is the removal of all the cement mortar pointing and its replacement with a very lime-rich, hot mix mortar, which has the ability to suck the moisture out of the wall and to its surface. This lime mortar will allow a small amount of moisture to permeate during the worst of the weather, but it will also allow it to dry naturally. If the cellar was particularly damp a couple of coats of lime wash would help, but we couldn't get away with it in this instance.
As the cellar is an enclosed space, that has less ventilation than the outside atmosphere, the water molecules don't have as much capacity to be removed through convection or evaporation.
Traditional, solid walls primarily dry through water molecules being ripped from the surface by the wind; with the strong covalent bond acting like a chain and pulling out water from deep within the wall. We shall cover this off in more detail in another blog post.
Therefore to aid the drying and improve the circulation in this cellar, we are using a pair of Vapour Flow fans. These work in tandem and are Autostat Smart Humidity controlled, heating air coming in from the outside and venting when the humidity gets too high.
To allow for tanks to be installed in the cellar, the floor had to be lowered. This gave us an opportunity to add some perimeter drainage to the walls and lay a limecrete floor. As the majority of the main floors in the manor are cast concrete and down for replacement, we will have much more information on the laying of replacement limecrete floors towards the end of Spring 2022.
Once the sub floors were completed, Chris took his time relaying some of the slabs and cobbles. The final scheme will be completed when the tank is in place.
We will revisit the cellar in another post looking at the chamber beam and ceiling repairs.