Cold & Wet...what should I do? (long)

hudsonleighFebruary 9, 2009

I have a concrete block basement & poured floor under a 43 yr old ranch house. We are near enough to the river to have a somewhat high water table, combined with being near the bottom of an incline. In my second and third years in the house we had a lot of snow and spring rains which led to 2" - 3" of water in most of the basement. We then had a perimeter drain & sump pump installed, so for the past two years we've only had maybe 1/2" in certain areas. And one wall weeps. This year, we also replaced our old inefficient boiler -- which was throwing off enough heat to keep the basement relatively comfy -- with a new high efficiency one.

I have no intention of fully finishing the basement. It is only used for storage, an excercise area and a workroom area. I just want it to be dry and warm enough to work or workout down there without gloves and scarf, and to reduce moisture damage to the stuff that's stored down there. (I do run a dehumidifier, but it's not enough to prevent mildew and that musty smell.)

So here's the question(s):

1)Should I Drylok the weeping walls to prevent water penetration, or allow the walls to weep and that water to evaporate? I'm afraid of I Drylok the water will simply find somewhere else (worse!?) to go.

2)Keeping in mind the weeping issue, is there a way to insulate the walls to make up for the heat loss resulting from the new boiler?

3) If I use DriCore on the floor, does it allow for enough evaporation, or will I have mold growing underneath it? Do I need to pull it up if water gets under it?

Sorry this is so's been weighing heavily on my mind for a while and it only just occurred to me that I could ask over here. Thanks for any help.

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We then had a perimeter drain & sump pump installed

On the interior?

Before you do anything further you should find out where the 1/2" of water comes from and tackle that.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 11:40AM
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Sorry, yes, the perimeter drain is in the interior of the basement. The majority of the water comes up from under the house, we think due to the high water table. The weeping wall does not contribute much if anything to the 1/2" we get on the floor. Apparently there is a french drain around the outside, but we think it's possible that it may have been partially compromised when an addition was built on part of the back of the house in the '80s.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 1:34PM
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For any water that is truly coming up there's not much you can without removing the existing floor, then installing drains under the floor. Certainly, don't put DriCore down.

Even without seeing it, I'm inclined to think the problem is more from surface water that is not being handled well. I'm almost certain that the French Drain is useless and clogged and it could be a source of this water.

As for the weeping wall, that might just be excess humidity. If it's liquid water coming in, the wall should be excavated on the outside and at least, covered in a Delta type membrane.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 4:58PM
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Worthy, when you say don't put Dricore down, why exactly shouldn't I? Right now I am using a few sections here and there, like under the treadmill, as a dance/excercise area floor and under some pieces of furniture that I don't want to have ruined in case of another flood. I wasn't planning on covering the entire floor, since I'm not finishing the basement. Do you think this use is okay?

I don't think the weeping is just excess humidity because while for most of the year it's not an issue, it's definitely worse in the spring with rain & thaw; it's only in a few places on the wall (always the same places); and it can definitely sometimes be almost like a trickle, not just dampness.

So I'm gathering that you guys think the interior perimeter drain is not "strong" enough, and we should excavate the outside to repair the french drain and add a waterproof membrane? Hmmmm, not really in the budget this I have any other options, or should I just leave it as is until we can do that? Do you think I'm risking structural integrity?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 8:51PM
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I wasn't planning on covering the entire floor, since I'm not finishing the basement. Then, fine.

The best way to stop water is always on the outside.

Do you think I'm risking structural integrity?

It doesn't sound like it. Of course, if you see any foundation cracks or shifting get a professional opinion; and water on wood can lead to damaging rot and mould. If you excavate from the outside, you should repair any damaged mortar joints before parging and waterproofing.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 10:44PM
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Okay, great. Thanks for the help. Now DH and I just have to figure out where to sandwich that cost in between the bathroom remodel, new roof and first college tuition payments, lol!

One last question regarding the you think there's a way to insulate the basement walls, especially given the weepage? Is it prudent to attach a plastic vapor barrier to the wall so I can insulate, or will it just make moisture build up rather than evaporate as it does now? Apply DryLoc? It's really darn cold down there, and I'm sure that cold is coming up and making the main living area colder as well.

I have this crazy idea.....the wall where most of the weeping occurs also happens to have the 4" copper waste pipe in front of it. What if I were to build a stud wall 6" in from that wall, using Trex or some other impermeable faux lumber as the horizontal footer along the floor, and attach insulation to that, having it covered by some cheap panelling? The 6" air pocket would allow any water to evaporate, and the Trex wouldn't be affected by any flooding that might occur. Of course, the panelling and insulation would have to end at the top of the footer board so they wouldn't risk water exposure. Is this completely insane? Could it work?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 9:48AM
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Though the best way to stop water is from the outside, don't give up.

If you can see where the water occasionally comes in, try a hydraulic cement product, such as Thoro Water Plug, to see if that stops the water. You could also try coating the wall with Thoro Seal. Crystalline waterproofing can also be used on the interior, but some variations require the use of sulfuric acid washes that require a lot of caution in using. Combined with special sealants at the floor wall juncture, it can be very effective.

If these additional interior approaches are found to work, then you could use foam board insulation.

Forget the plastic. That just traps water on the wall or in fibrous insulation.

Hiding the whole mess behind a new wall will just encourage hidden mould growth.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 6:05PM
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Thanks Worthy. That seems like a good plan, and something we can do this spring. You've been very helpful!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 10:25PM
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