Maintenance is the Best Medicine
Just like an old car, your home requires maintenance. The insertion of small amounts of capital into a building over an extended time period can mean the difference between a beautiful, functional house and a falling-apart, expensive headache of a house.
At this point, you may be expecting some tips on maintaining your plaster walls and ceilings. But it’s not the plaster that needs maintaining, it’s the structure supporting it.
Let’s look at a typical problem in New England houses: ice dams. Ice dams occur when heat escapes from an incorrectly insulated house and melts snow at the eaves of the roof. The water then runs to the edge of the roof and freezes solid. The resulting dam pools enough water behind it to seep back beneath the shingles and leak into the house.
Though you may not see it, that water can trickle down into the walls and saturate your historic plaster, resulting in costly repairs. That water can also warp or rot the studs and wood lath, compromising the plaster’s “skeleton” and ultimately causing the plaster to crack.
Now let’s look at a common problem that exists throughout most of this country (you’re off the hook in the southwest desert)… moist basements. Without proper airflow and dehumidifying, moisture beneath your ground floor can lead to rotting joists and sill plates. This leads to sagging floors, which leads to shifting walls, which leads to, you guessed it, cracked plaster.
We’re proud of you for doing research on plaster repair and considering Big Wally’s Plaster Magic to get the job done right. But before attempting any plaster repair project, ask yourself, “why did it fail in the first place? What is at the root of this problem?”
It could be a shifting foundation due to poor drainage around the periphery of the house; clogged gutters and downspouts are often the culprit in this situation. It could be due to a broken seal around a toilet that’s been slowly leaking without you knowing it. It could be sagging joists or rafters due to the location of uneven weight loads throughout your house (such as rooms stacked with boxes of books). It could be that the flashing around the base of the chimney needs to be sealed again.
What’s the point of spending the time, effort and money to restore your beautiful plaster if the problem crops up again in a year or two?
Good luck with your repair and as always, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below if you have any questions.