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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Question Moisture in basement walls

    Hello,

    This is my first time posting a question. We had a home inspection conducted on our 1918 craftsman home for sale. The inspector found moisture in the basement while putting a moisture meter up to the basement walls. Our basement was finished in the 40's, long before we owned it, with pine 1x12's nailed horizontally to the walls and ceiling. The plumbing is still exposed on the ceiling, including the pipes for the hot water heating system. We know that a french drain was installed down one side of the house about 5 years ago. We have never had any wet spots in the basement, except when one rain gutter in one corner of the house gets disconnected and water runs down the foundation and causes the carpeting to become wet. Because of this, we are always very careful to make sure the gutter is attached when it's raining. However, other than this we have had no knowledge of an ongoing moisture problem. We live in a very low humidity area and also have not noticed any mold or mildew. Since moving here, we have painted the walls and ceiling, built in cabinets and bookshelves and installed new vinyl double pane basement windows. The basement has electric baseboard heat. It also has a beautiful lawn that my husband waters a lot. A contractor suggested we install a vapor barrier on all four walls. This would obviously entail creating a gigantic mess and I'm sure an equally gigantic cost. Are there any other methods to deal with this moisture situation? We lost a sale on our house, and now need to do something about this as it is bound to come up again. However, the fact that we have basically never known of a moisture problem makes this particular solution pretty hard to swallow. Ideas are appreciated. Thanks, Caryn

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Moisture in basement walls

    Quote Originally Posted by caryn View Post
    Hello,

    The inspector found moisture in the basement while putting a moisture meter up to the basement walls. .

    We know that a french drain was installed down one side of the house about 5 years ago. We have never had any wet spots in the basement, except when one rain gutter in one corner of the house gets disconnected and water runs down the foundation and causes the carpeting to become wet.

    Because of this, we are always very careful to make sure the gutter is attached when it's raining.

    . We live in a very low humidity area and also have not noticed any mold or mildew.

    Since moving here, we have painted the walls and ceiling, built in cabinets and bookshelves and installed new vinyl double pane basement windows. The basement has electric baseboard heat.

    A contractor suggested we install a vapor barrier on all four walls. This would obviously entail creating a gigantic mess and I'm sure an equally gigantic cost. Are there any other methods to deal with this moisture situation? We lost a sale on our house, and now need to do something about this as it is bound to come up again.

    However, the fact that we have basically never known of a moisture problem makes this particular solution pretty hard to swallow. Ideas are appreciated. Thanks, Caryn
    depending on what the foundation walls are made of may some bearing on the amount of moisture.
    Depending on what if any damp proofing exists along the exterior side of the foundation will also determine how much moisture from the ground will be allowed to penetrate the foundation.

    For example ... with concrete blocks they can be somewhat pourous because of their composistion , the hollow sections and the mortar joints.If there is no damp proofing or water proofing coating on the exterior the moisture will eventually penetrate and saturate the concrete block. There may not be enough to show signs of trickles or puddles of water but they will remain damp. That dampness will migrate inward .

    With a solid concrete poured foundation the moisture will not as easily penetrate the solid 8 inches or so of concrete .... however with any minor crack the moisture will penetrate in that area.

    Based on what you mentioned about the french drain installed along one side seems to indicate there was an issue with moisture previously .... it may likely indicate other areas of the foundation are also showing signs of further issues.

    Case in point .... the mention of the carpet becoming wet around the area of a downspout outside. This indicates there is some avenue for moisture to get inside the basement.

    Having the baseboard heat may have some positive effect of controlling some of that moisture and keeping any mold that can be seen at bay.

    As for a vapor barrier .... that's a tough call. Trying to do any sort of damp proofing from the inside is really only a band-aide at best. For some folks they have used the paint on damp proof bought at a hardware store .... which may work for a slight dampness issue but you won't find a professional contractor willing to warrant this method.
    There is a membrane system that can be used as a moisture barrier on the inside : http://www.systemplaton.com/moisture_control.html

    The best method would be to perform excavation around the outside .... repair any cracks and fill holes .... apply a proper water proof coating along with a membrane to the exterior foundation walls..... repair / replace or install a perimeter drain.
    This is costly and very intrusive to the outside plantings around the house.

    Your correct whichever method you go with will be some costs and entail some mess.

    You might also consider rumming a dehumidifier or provide some sort of mechanical ventilation removing the moisture from the basement.



    Just some thoughts.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

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