Cinder block basement damp - advice appreciated!
Hi, this is my first post. I have been researching ways to dry my basement, and luckily came upon this site. I've read lots of your advice to other home owners and I'm hoping to get some opinions here from experienced folks like yourselves.
About this house: Built in the late 60s, one story ranch about 900 square feet. Basement is unsealed cinder block foundation, and the basement was partially finished when I bought it 5 years ago. Just adjacent to the front of the house is a porous rock hill.
About the problem: The house has always been damp. I run a 60 gallon dehumidifier year round. In the summer I have to empty it twice a day, in the winter, every few days. Mold is growing behind the plastic/sheetrock in the finished parts of the basement. It has even grown in small patches upstairs. Mildew grows on my shoes in the closets upstairs, and my clothes have a musty odor. In the unfinished sections of the basement where the cinder block is exposed, I can see that it was not sealed and there is a lot of efflorescence with lines up to about 3 feet. In three areas when there is a lot of rain or the ground becomes really saturated I get some water on the floor. Not a significant amount, I'd call it a small puddle.
What I have done so far: I had three different "basement specialists" look at the problem. Two recommended interior french drains and the third recommended trying a sump pump only in an effort to save money. One used some type of dampness measuring tool on the exposed areas of cinder block where the water gets up to 3 feet and he said it was very high. I can't remember the exact number. I replaced all the windows in the house this fall - the old ones were wood, riddled with mold and so drafty that they were constantly wet throughout the winter with the temperature difference. I have also fixed my drain spouts to run away and down the hill from my house.
What I plan to do: Replace basement door - it's just plywood and let's a lot of cold and wet in. Fix the grading this spring. But, what I really need to focus on is the water in the cinder blocks, the mold and improving the air quality in my home.
Questions: Based on the amount of water stored in the walls, is the only way I can get my basement dry and improve the air quality in my home by installing interior french drains with a pump and back up power source?
Would an exterior french drain along the south facing side of the house/hill help? Is there anything else I should do or consider doing outside?
Is sealing the cinder block an option or is it too damp for that to work?
Thank you for reading!