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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    1

    Default Dirt floor in basement

    I just purchased an older home. The basement has a dirt floor. I don't want to spend dollars on a concrete floor at this time. If I put down 6 mill plastic and cover it with a 3-4 inch layer of pea stone will this help keep some of dampness down? Any other suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    1,387

    Default Re: Dirt floor in basement

    Howdy yes the plastic is a moisture barrier but will not take allot of foot traffic before the pea gravel penetrates the plastic.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: Dirt floor in basement

    I have same problem. I used sand instead of gravel. I also built a wooden platform (2' wide) out of PT plywood and 2x4s all around to walk on. It works!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Derry, NH
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: Dirt floor in basement

    Yes it will.
    In remodeling I have frequently run across dirt crawl spaces and plastic film and pea stone works great.

    The suggestion of walk ways built up is good too.
    I know of situations where both have worked out well and in later years the home owner poured concret sections a little at a time until the cellar was completed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Dirt floor in basement

    I am facing the same situation, the house I bought has a dirt basement. The previous owners insulated it but they placed the insulation paper/foil side towards the floor. So I'm removing all the insulation (its damp and done wrong)then insulating the outer perimeter of the celler also insulating my cold pipes as well, then I will put the plastic down and the stone. Becareful of mold and such. I had a severe allergic reaction so no more working on the house myself. Wear gloves and masks. O and while I am removing the old insulation I will have some box fans running to get the smell of the basement out and a Dehumidifier. I suggest having a dehumidifier to keep the dampness down through the spring and this year the summer also. Any thing else I should consider? Eventually I plan on putting a full basement in. I live in the eastern part of US,

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1

    Question Re: Dirt floor in basement

    Same here: 127 yr old farmhouse. Recently did a lot of weatherization, basement is next important step. Everyone tells me that the dirt floor needs to be sealed. I get it that it's damp (especially this year in VT with near record wet weather) & that's not great for the wood, but it's also been there since 1882 without any terrible consequences that I'm aware of. Plastic seems like a good idea, but:
    Why is it important to seal it?
    What will we gain?
    What about later leaks, like a blown water heater? do we then have a bathtub?
    Thanks in advance for advice.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1

    Cool Re: Dirt floor in basement

    Quote Originally Posted by jimmatteau View Post
    Same here: 127 yr old farmhouse. Recently did a lot of weatherization, basement is next important step. Everyone tells me that the dirt floor needs to be sealed. I get it that it's damp (especially this year in VT with near record wet weather) & that's not great for the wood, but it's also been there since 1882 without any terrible consequences that I'm aware of. Plastic seems like a good idea, but:
    Why is it important to seal it?
    What will we gain?
    What about later leaks, like a blown water heater? do we then have a bathtub?
    Thanks in advance for advice.
    I have a similar situation in North Eastern MA. Looking for a solution as well. My concerns about the vapor barrier are the same as yours. I seems to me that adding a vapor barrier(VB) adds multiple layers of complexity that make it hard to do "right" by the homeowner/DIYer. There is drainage that should be installed under the VB, potentially requiring grading and a sump pump, protecting the VB from damage, providing sturdy flooring to keep the space usable for storage/work area, and then you potentially loose the best feature of the dirt floor basement... DRAINAGE!...

    In my case, the floor remains "dry", sometimes almost powdery, but I still keep dehumidifier running in the summer/high humidity months.

    My solution options are:
    1.) pour a floor - very involved (move everything out, contractors, $$$)
    2.)minimally grade and install PT decking panels for floor - minimally involved (can be done in stages, easy DIY)
    3.) VB with Sand; no sealing; PT panels - moderately involved (can be done in stages, more materials $$, involved DIY)

    My leanings are toward option 3 for the following reasons:
    a.) helps keep musty/moldy/mildewy smells in check, while still keeping cost down. Plank platforms won't keep help with the smells.
    b.) "tub" effect risk can be mitigated by monitoring and taking additional steps like installing catch basins under H2O heater and boiler and auto shutoffs and shutoff valve on the appropriate plumbing lines and by insulating pipes.
    c.) cheaper and much less involved than concrete, but with similar benefits. I wouldn't go so far as to seal the VB entirely to the walls. My goal isn't to make a moisture proof environment... I have a rubble stone foundation, isn't going to help anyway. My goal is to create a physical barrier to keep the water vapor in the ground as much as possible. Some humidity will be expected, but that's what a dehumidifier is for. I would use either a very thick VB or multiple layers of VB (taped seams are a must) and use compacted sand or stone dust to secure it in place; platforms would float on that base.

    If there are any pros out there who can chime in on the methods and the logic, feedback is always appreciated.

    thanks,

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