Evaluating the use of agricultural moisture probes in the historic built environment

Fielding, Nicole, Colston, Belinda and Goodman, Adrian (2013) Evaluating the use of agricultural moisture probes in the historic built environment. In: Eastern Analytical Symposium and Exposition, 18-20 November 2013, New Jersey, USA.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Lecture)
Item Status:Live Archive


Much of the deterioration affecting historic buildings is a direct result of moisture penetration in porous building materials. This damage can be wide-ranging and severe – from “puddle staining” and mould, to decay fungi and deterioration due to the crystallisation of soluble salts. The relationship between masonry moisture content and the extent of the decay is complex, and monitoring moisture movement, particularly within mass masonry structures is problematic. If, however, effective conservation strategies are to be developed and adopted, it is imperative that a full understanding of the causes and mechanisms behind moisture-driven deterioration is achieved, and the development of an effective method for monitoring masonry moisture movement key.

Current research has been evaluating the potential of utilising technology, normally used in agriculture, for the historic built environment. Methodologies for establishing calibration protocols for the Delta-T PR2 capacitance-type soil moisture probe (Delta-T Devices Ltd) is discussed for a range of historic masonry materials, and an assessment given of its suitability for use in historic masonry structures. A three-year case-study at North Foreland Lighthouse (a grade II listed building in Kent, England), carried out in parallel with the probe evaluation and calibration, provided invaluable ‘real’ data for validating the use of the probe in historic contexts. The impact of moisture ingress into the thick masonry walls of North Foreland’s tower, and its subsequent impact on the internal environment and observed salt-induced material decay, was evaluated, and has been used to inform an effective conservation strategy for the lighthouse.

Keywords:Moisture content, Moisture monitoring, Historic masonry, Moisture probes, Preventive conservation, Historic lighthouse conservation
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F200 Materials Science
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K250 Conservation of Buildings
F Physical Sciences > F140 Environmental Chemistry
F Physical Sciences > F110 Applied Chemistry
F Physical Sciences > F180 Analytical Chemistry
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:10693
Deposited On:08 Jul 2013 20:49

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