flood, mold, starting over

pam_fMarch 24, 2012

We had refinished our basement 10 years ago and felt confident, as there were no moisture problems, We flooded slighly during the hurricane this past summer (NJ) and in hindsight now realize we should have been more aggressive with the drying out effort.

The result was we had to tear it all down and start over. There was mold which had started on the bottom and worked it's way up and impacted some of the ceiling joists. We are scrubbing and treating with vinegar and borax as we have read that is effective.

In planning our re-build we don't want to have the same problem again. The concrete block walls seem dry, but We are still going with steel construction instead of wood. And for the insulation against the wall we are going to use the EPS.

The temperature is not a problem so I don't want to use any FG. We used it in the ceiling more for noise and the mice thought we did it for them to nest in. Also I think it trapped moisture which is why the ceiling joists have mold.

Is this the right approach? Can we use the EPS against the block and then just do the steel with the paperless drywall?

If we keep it dry will the mold come back anyway?

Thanks for any help - Pam

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I doubt the slight flooding last summer was the sole cause of your overwhelming mould problem.

More likely, there has been constant uncontrolled moisture vapour since the basement was finished. If you had described your previous system, the sources would be clearer.

There's no way to "dry out" a basement and then you're "done." Like rust, moisture never sleeps. Instead, you have to control the moisture flow and handle it in a way so as not to damage what you've installed.

In your climate, a mechanical dehumidifier is a must in the warmer months.

The wall system you propose is acceptable according to Building Science Corp., (see link). Be sure to use at least 2" of EPS. And I would suggest up to 2" thick strips of XPS under the floor plates. This will keep vulnerable wood or steel (even galvanized quickly rusts) safe from bulk water in floods and constant capillary rise through the concrete floor.

Liquid water and air may also be getting in through openings around the rim joists. Pull out any fiberglass and either foam the area or piece in XPS taped and caulked tight. (It doesn't have to look pretty to work well.)

No poly vapour barrier, no vinyl wallpaper, no oil paint. And don't open basement windows for "fresh air" in the summer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Building Insulation Systems

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 12:50PM
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Thanks for the information and the article. We did purchase 2 de-humidifiers and have been running them on and off. I didn't realize we should keep them running, as it didn't seem moisture was an issue. I won't make that mistake again.

Is there any advantage to the wood over metal if we do it right this time? If we do metal it would just be the 25 guage that they sell at HD.

I get it about putting the foam down first thanks for that.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Personally I prefer light metal, as it's cleaner to work with and you won't get nail pops. However, It does cost about 15%-30% more for materials.

foam down first

It also acts as a thermal break.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 8:38PM
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