Sunday, September 20, 2009

Not on the Agenda

This evening as I was finishing up supper, the phone rang. I'm not very good at long phone calls; at least, I'm not very good at just sitting still and being on the phone. I also have to move around and do things. Load the dishwasher. Wipe down cabinets. Pet kittehs. This was a longish call, and while I was listening and talking, I started picking at the dining room wallpaper.

A few weeks ago I discovered that given a fairly humid day, whatever dining room wallpaper is hung over plaster will come off rather easily. Tonight, it wasn't that damp here in southwestern Pennsylvania, so I took the phone into the living room ("Yes, right . . . uh-uh, and what happened then? . . . . ") to see what luck I'd have there.

Oh, yeah, this was nice. Peel, peel, peel. Look how easily that boring beige printed moiré paper comes down! By the time the caller rang off I had it all off the lower part of northwest corner of the living room, both walls.

Stripping wallpaper wasn't on the agenda for this evening. I was going to do ironing. Lots of it. But as long as I was at it and things were going so well, why not bring in the step stool and finish these areas at the top? And around the north of the chimney breast? And hey, why not let 'er rip on the chimney breast itself?

So on I went, and the paper came off. But as I was working on the center of the chimney breast, I noticed something. The paper I was removing was damp. And so was the wall under it. At least, the paste under it was damp.

Then, what's this? Here's another dampish place a little lower, where the finish coat of the plaster seems loose.

What the-- ? This I do not understand. My POs-1 put this paper up at least twenty years ago. The paste should be dry. Moreover, this plaster is on brickwork that's on the inside of the chimney. There are no plumbing pipes on the second floor above this, and it hasn't rained around here for two or three weeks. The plaster itself isn't staring with wet, nor is it mouldy or yellowed. But it's unquestionably damp.

Where is it coming from? Is my chimney leaking from above, and is there some pocket in the chimney that's catching water and slowly letting it in? I know the west wall of the house needs repointed sometime. But please, God, do I have to have it done now?

I'll come back and feel it in the morning. Messing with masonry is not in the budget! Nor is it on the agenda. Dry, rot you, dry!!


Sandy said...

I am hoping you are not going to have to point...

Kate H. said...

Me, too. When I felt it the next day, it was still sticky, but it seemed to be just the paste that was, and not the wall itself. Gotta get the dropcloths down and wash those walls, then I'll have a better idea.

Larry said...

Hmmm...I've heard that condensation from weather changes can cause old glues to revive. Perhaps you've run into a perfect storm of condensation and the glue that does this.

We have had the same issue with wall paper on our ceilings. The mugginess has caused several spots to pop up, but the stuff on some of the ceilings, mainly the libray, are peeling.

All I had to do is just touch the stuff and it came right off!