fixing wetness from the outside?

behaviorkeltonJuly 2, 2011

I'm closing on a 60 year old home soon. The first order of business is to do whatever it takes to make the basement as dry as possible *without* the use of dehumidifiers or sump pumps.

My idea is to get a foundation/structural engineer or other expert to give advice on what can be done *from the outside of the home* to ensure that water has no reason to enter the basement.

Obviously, I'm expecting that we'll need to have the area around my house sculpted along with a french drain type solution.

Am I on the right track here?

Should I contact a fancy pants engineer or would a basement/foundation company be sufficient?

Before I do anything else with the house, I'd like to start with a good foundation-basement.

(also, what did people do with their basements before dehumidifiers?)

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what did people do with their basements before dehumidifiers

Before there were basements, there were cellars--dark, dank and unfinished. Humidity, not trapped behind finished walls, wasn't a problem. The vegetables didn't mind it. But since we've decided to treat basements as living space, and use lots of moisture sensitive materials to make it so, the moisture has to be controlled. Early on, compressive air conditioning was somewhat effective. But as homes have tightened up and insulation levels have increased, mechanical dehumidification has become the standard. Try as you might, there's no magic away around it.

AS for liquid (bulk) water penetration, you don't need to invest in a structural engineer to tell you to: 1) slope the grade away from the basement; 2) keep water hungry plants/ flower beds away from the foundation; 3) be sure eavestroughs aren't leaking; 4) take downspouts far from the foundation, or better, yet run them to underground weepers far out on your property.

Sump pumps and dehumidifiers serve different purposes. Sump pumps remove bulk water; dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air, moisture that is inevitable. (Assuming you're not in a desert climate.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Building Science Corp. on basements (BSD-103)

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 12:33PM
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You know, I was thinking just that.

Looking at this basement....and others.... I'm thinking, "there is no way that these spaces were ever dry".

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 5:54PM
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