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  1. #1
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    Jul 2010
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    Default basement, leaks and insulation

    I don't get it, I'm talking about basements.

    After millions built, for the last two or so centuries, it seems that most leak.

    What are they doing wrong, why are they building them and why can't they solve the leaks ???

    In California there are no basements (I only know a few). Good. I know that I wouldn't like to have a thing like this that leaks, floods, develops mold and misery.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: basement, leaks and insulation

    Years ago, a farmer went into his field, dug a hole and prayed to God that it would fill up with water for his cows. He called it a watering hole. Then a housing developer bought the farm, dug a hole on the same land and prayed to God that it would stay dry. He called it a basement.


    The obvious advantages of having a basement -- doubles the space -- a logical place for utilites and storage

    Now, the method and material the foundation is constructed plays into moisture issues.
    The obvious old stone or brick foundations leak because of the mortar joints failing --- they're not waterproof to begin with.
    Concrete block are pretty much the same as above with mortar deterioration as well as cracking.
    Poured concrete is commonly plagued with infiltration from rusted out form ties.

    The convential concrete foudation use forms placed as such to form a mould in which the concrete is poured into. These forms are held together using metal ties which are simply snapped off flush with the wall once the forms are removed.
    Over time the remaing portion of the metal tie within the concrete rusts and rots away --- leaving a hole from the exterior to interior --- several ties means several little holes.

    Regardles of what material the basement is constructed with ---- the outside soil exerts a considerable amount of pressure ( thousands of pounds per square inch ) against the foundation -- the moisture within this soil is being forced into the foundation ( hydrostatic pressure ) and will pentrate through masonary surfaces by capillary action -- any weakness or holes with allow water to infiltrate quicker because of path of least resistance --- more moisture in the soil the more water in the basement.

    Solutions ----


    Water control at the exterior of the home --- proper landscaping having a negative slope away from the foundation -- gutters and downspouts extended far away from the home --- are two simple things preventing the soil becoming too saturated and moisture infiltration from hydrostatic pressure.

    The foundation ----- a perimeter drain to take away the water within the soil away relieving the hydrostatic pressure.
    A proper waterproofing system applied to exterior surface of the foundation prevents water contacting the walls.
    These two combined have pretty much eliminated water infiltration issues in basements.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  3. #3
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    Default Re: basement, leaks and insulation

    Canuk,

    Thanks for the reply. It was informative.

    Here's an idea: I've built a few pools in my life. Why not build the basement in the same method?

    I can see a basement as a shelter in tornado country, but for storage? for storage, why not build a 3 car garage or a separate storage shed? Worry about the cold weather? then build the storage space as you'd build a living space, with the same insulation and heating system.

    If you ask me, basements are as stupid as measuring in inches instead of centimeters.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    251

    Default Re: basement, leaks and insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Canuk,

    Thanks for the reply. It was informative.

    Here's an idea: I've built a few pools in my life. Why not build the basement in the same method?

    I can see a basement as a shelter in tornado country, but for storage? for storage, why not build a 3 car garage or a separate storage shed? Worry about the cold weather? then build the storage space as you'd build a living space, with the same insulation and heating system.

    If you ask me, basements are as stupid as measuring in inches instead of centimeters.
    Some folks don't like their property covered in buildings. Crawlspaces and slabs have their own negative issues.

    Basement make great storage space and even better for furnaces, HWT, boilers, etc.

    What is really stupid, is having to put HVAC equipment and HWT in closets and attics and burying piping in a slab, stuffed in a crawlspace or having it all in your walls.
    1925 Two-Story Stucco Beaux Arts Neoclassical

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    251

    Default Re: basement, leaks and insulation

    FYI - My basement doesn't leak and only floods if the sewers back-up. Better for a basement to flood than the main house... as in a townhouse I lived in that didn't have a basement...yuck!.

    My house is 86 years old. They were real crafstmen back then. Most home built after 1945 are junk. Slapped up quickly to make a quick dollar. Even many "custom" homes. I don't think it was even reinforced with steel. The forms were made from stacked 2x6's. It has deep soffit overhangs so rain water doesn't even fall within 2' of the house. It also allows the upstairs ot be shaded in the summer.

    1) Drainage, drainage, drainage

    2) Mind you footings, wall thickness and backfill.

    3) Did I mention quality of soil and backfill.


    Many development are built in areas not suited for development such as filled in swamp lands. They don't take much care in grading, terrain planning, wide are drainage plans or taking soil quality into real consideration. Backfill is often low quality and full of construction debris.


    IF folks focused on quality of construction rather than size and pretty things on the interior, they'd be amazed at the difference.
    1925 Two-Story Stucco Beaux Arts Neoclassical

  6. #6
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    Default Re: basement, leaks and insulation

    Motoguy,

    Thanks for your input. There is no question that old house building quality kind of disappeared after WW2. America experienced tremendous growth and fast replaced slow, quantity replaced quality.

    You mentioned that you weren't sure new homes were reinforced with steel - are you talking about the concrete? if you do, of course there are rebars in the concrete, it's the first thing inspectors want to see.

    And I'm glad you have a leak free basement, then again not ALL basements leak, just way too many of them...Still I believe that if a builder puts a basement, do it in way that won't leak, or don't bother with a basement.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
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    12

    Default Re: basement, leaks and insulation

    multiple reasons for basements - in agricultural times a good cool place to store supplies.
    Get your plumbing 'indoors' where it won't freeze.
    But, yes, they can leak. Mortar constantly constricts for it's life, allowing water intrusion. Concrete block, as noted above, is like a giant sponge.
    Finally, the old methods of 'waterproofing' was roofing tar, which dries hard and brittle. A little settling and you have cracks which let water in. No settling, it'll still crack and degrade!

    Exterior grading is critical, but water soaks in and continues to seep, 'stacking' against the basement wall.
    The single most important thing one can do when building a basement is a quality 'french' drain at the foundation to drain the water away and relieve the hydrostatic pressure.
    And modern waterproofings installed by a quality contractor are guaranteed for life.
    Helping Homeowners understand the Typical Causes and Solutions to Hidden Content issues!

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