Waterproofed coal hole cover, new step, and tile repairs. London home

Waterproofed coal hole cover, new step, and tile repairs. London home

Waterproofed coal hole cover London

Pictured: Waterproofed coal hole cover, new step, and tile repairs by the Stone Steps and Paving team. Shepherd’s Bush, London

The Stone Steps and Paving team have sealed, replaced and restored many coal hole covers over the years. Every project is different. For example, on this page, we’re featuring one of our more elegant solutions to the common problem of a leaking coal chute cover.

Homeowners in Warbeck Road, Shepherd’s Bush, approached us because they wanted a stylish, period-correct, solution to their leaking entrance paving. The stone that held their coal hole cover was cracked, letting in water, and in danger of collapsing into the cellar below.

Before and after photo: Waterproofed coal hole cover, new step, and tile repairs

Coal hole cover before repairCoal hole cover after repair

Pictured: Before and after photo showing how we transformed the entrance paving, with its coal chute cover

About our work on this project

We proposed a plan that prioritised both practicality and aesthetics. For the coal hole, we recommended placing the metal cover on a thicker, recessed piece of Yorkstone, giving the illusion of a coal chute without any actual hole. This solution eliminated the water ingress problem while maintaining the Victorian appearance of the property.

Stone for a waterproofed coal hole cover

Pictured: A recess we carved in the stone paving, used to hold the metal coal hole cover and prevent leaks into the cellar

For the front door step, or entry platform, we suggested replacing the degraded stone sections with carved Yorkstone.

The client approved our proposal, happily surprised that we were also willing to source and replace the unusual glass riser beneath their front step.

We ordered the toughened glass for the riser and cut and shaped the step and paving stones in our workshop. Then we removed the decayed, failing stones and began our waterproofing process. Then we installed the new paving stones and glass riser, followed by brick repairs, fixing the loose checker board style pathway tiles, and decoration.

The client was delighted with the results and has since left us a wonderful review.

More photos

Waterproofed coal hole cover

Pictured: Waterproofed coal hole cover by the Stone Steps and Paving team

Pictured: Repaired tiled path

A view of the Yorkstone step

Pictured: Another view of the Yorkstone step and paving

Frequently asked questions about coal holes

What is a coal hole?

A coal hole, in the context of London homes, refers to a small opening or access point typically located outside buildings.

They were primarily used during the Victorian and Edwardian eras as a means of delivering coal directly into the basement or cellar of a property for heating purposes. The coal hole usually consisted of a cast iron cover or lid, which could be lifted to allow coal to be dropped down into the storage area below.

Inside the building, there would often be a chute or door connected to the coal hole, providing access to the coal from the basement or cellar.

Over time, coal holes have become obsolete as coal usage declined and alternative heating sources became prevalent. Many coal holes have been sealed or covered up, while others have been repurposed or preserved.

How did coal holes work?

Coal holes were a part of the coal delivery system used in London homes during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. They worked as follows:

  1. Access point: Coal holes were small openings or access points usually located outside buildings, particularly in front of houses. These openings were typically fitted with a cast iron cover or lid.
  2. Coal delivery: Coal merchants would transport coal to the residential area in sacks or hessian bags. When a delivery was made, the coal would be poured down the coal hole from the street level.
  3. Storage area: The coal hole provided direct access to the basement or cellar of the building. The coal would accumulate in this storage area, forming a stockpile for future use.
  4. Cast iron cover: The cast iron cover or lid of the coal hole was designed to be sturdy and secure. It would usually be circular or rectangular in shape and could be lifted or removed to access the storage area below.
  5. Interior access: Inside the building, there would often be a chute or door connected to the coal hole. This allowed homeowners to retrieve the coal from the basement or cellar without having to go outside. The chute or door provided a convenient means of transferring the coal to stoves, fireplaces, or furnaces within the property.
How do you waterproof a coal hole?

For our client in Shepherd’s Bush we embedded the metal cover in a paving stone, giving the appearance of a coal chute, without the worry of a hole. Other waterproofing solutions and tips include:

1. Obviously, ensure the coal hole cover is securely fitted within its designated frame or surrounding pavement to minimise potential water seepage around the edges.

2. Apply weatherproof sealant where the cover meets the pavement to establish a watertight seal and prevent any unwanted water from entering through gaps or seams.

3. Regularly inspect for damage or corrosion in cast-iron covers which may contribute to leaks; addressing these issues by repairing or replacing compromised components as necessary.

4. If practical, incorporating camber (a slight incline) into pavement designs situated around coal holes so rainwater naturally drains away from them instead of pooling nearby.

5. Examining adjacent drainage systems at ground level and inside cellars to ensure effective diversion of rainwater away from building foundations and cellar spaces beneath coal holes.

6. Install internal drainage systems within cellar areas if deemed necessary – potentially including perforated pipes at ground level draining excess water into sump pump systems for removal out of basement areas during heavy rainfall events.

Project summary

We waterproofed the coal hole cover, installed a new Yorkstone step, and repaired paving tiles in the entrance to a Victorian-era home. Warbeck Road Shepherd’s Bush. Postcode: W12.

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