I can't believe our contractor did this... We need help!!!

newhomebuilderOctober 14, 2006

Problem: The use of a solvent based sealer versus a non-toxic water based sealer.

We have just moved into a new home. Prior to moving in, we asked our contractor to have the basement floor sealed so that we wouldn't get the damp smells and to also help prevent radon. We also wanted to preserve the "fresh poured" basement look.

Well, hour contractor kept putting it off and so came the week before we are to move in. We reminded him again to clean up the now thrashed basement, and have it sealed. Off we go on vacation and returned to move into the house.

The night before the move, we came to our house and were immediately met with a very toxic smell. The basement looked wet and the contractor said that he had it sealed and it was still drying...no problem. (At this point, I will add that the floor was not cleaned adequately prior to the sealer, so the sealer just glued all thrash particles to the floor.)

The day of the move, the house still had an odor, but we didn't think much of it as we were busy with the move. Also, doors and windows were open. After the house was shut up and we were ready for bed, we noticed the smell getting worse. My head started hurting and eyes were watering. It tasted like I had kerosene in my mouth. I really thought we would not make it through the night alive.

The next morning, we went down to the basement and saw again what looked like wet floors. Some places wet and others dry. Upon further inspection (very hard to breath when in the basement) we found that the floors were all dry and only looked wet. Along with the toxic odor problem, we now have floors that look wet and make it hard to distinguish if we might have a leak or water problems in the future.

After contacting our contractor, he informed us that a solvent based sealer was applied by rolling and spraying. The company also sprayed the edges of the concrete block and up about a foot in some places. He said for us to open some windows both in the basement and the upper levels of our house, plus put a fan in the basement. We did this and the air seemed to improve. After a week, the air turned cooler, so we closed the windows up last night and went out for dinner. When we returned, the house smelled almost as bad as the first night of occupancy. I couldn't sleep last night from a headache and fear about our toxic house. I also have a sore throat today.

Does anyone have a suggestion of what we can do to get rid of the smell? Can we pant over the sealer so that the floors look dry again? Of course, we would use something non-toxic. Is our problem a health hazard? BTW - We have no children living at home...only our beloved JRT dog.

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a week later and the toxic smell is still there?
Toxic fumes causing headaches.

I would have contractor contact this company and get some answers.
It doesn't sound too healthy for you to be in that house.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 10:38PM
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Reading this thread reminds me why I do projects myself; at least I'm in control of the situation. I'm sorry you are experiencing this.

I would try to get more information about the product (original containers or at least the product and manufacture name). Check the web for product details or call the manufacturer. Look at the MSDS. Try to tell if the product was used in accordance with manufacturer's specs or if it was misused. Tell the manufacturer about your issue and ask for help or suggestions. Ask if it can be topcoated, if so what, when, how.

Until you can get the info from the manufacturer, can you place window fans (blowing out) every basement window to exhaust as many fumes as possible? Of course, you'll have to watch the temps. I'd open the upstairs windows as much as possible, too. Perhaps you could take dog and get out of the house if it is making you feel sick until the problem is addressed.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 1:08PM
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Thanks for the answers.
We left the basement windows open again last night and slept better. Went out for breakfast this morning and the smell was much better upon returning to the house.
The dog doesn't seem to be bothered by the smell, even though they are suppose to be more perceptive to smells. She doesn't sleep any more than usual or act ill.
We have one osculating fan that is set back in the basement (opposite area of where the three windows are located.) We only have those windows and no cross ventilation down there. Would box fans in the window really help pull the bad air out?
First thing tomorrow (Monday morning), I am calling my contractor and get more info.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 3:40PM
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I'm glad you slept better. Hopefully the fumes are dissapating. I would place a fan in at least one basement window to exhaust air. Circulating the air in the basement with a fan may vaporize some fumes from the treated surfaces, but I'd want to exhaust that air out of the basement if at all possible.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 8:12PM
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We'll give it a try!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 8:30PM
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"The dog doesn't seem to be bothered by the smell, even though they are suppose to be more perceptive to smells. She doesn't sleep any more than usual or act ill."

The dog does not know the smell is supposed to make them feel bad.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 9:29AM
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It's best during the first year that you live in a new house to keep it well ventilated. Your home is constantly offgasssing from plywood, cabinetry and solvent-based coatings. Let alone, releasing thousand of pounds of water vapour from the concrete.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2006 at 5:22PM
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newhomebuilder--Just saw your thread, hope you check back here.

Just wanted to share my experience with you.

We were finishing our basement (on a 15 yr old home). The tile layers troweled on a solvent based, outdoor only adhesive on the floor of the basemtn on areas that were to be tiled. Fumes built up and 45 seconds after they left my house--an explosion in the basement which almost totalled the house since the fumes went through every crack and crevice (including all vents and cold air returns). My 8 month old twins and I escaped the home by the skin of our teeth.

You need to be aggressive here and find out exactly what was used in your basement, and soon. I think someone screwed up here--I would not sleep in this house until you find out.

The product that was used in my basemnt had all kinds of health hazards and should never have been used indoors.

Plus remember that after you smell fumes like this for awhile, you reach a point physically where you think the fumes have dissipated when actually they have not.

Please let us know what you find out.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 10:25AM
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