Wind driven rain coming in through walls in cinder block house

jb_njDecember 26, 2009

My entire house is constructed of cinder block, not just the basement. Wind driven rain sometimes literally pushes through the walls on the second story, which is above ground.

Is there a special waterproof masonry paint that I can use on the exterior to stop this?

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Is the water coming THROUGH the walls, or through cracks in the blocks?

Are the walls insulated? My concern is that moisture is forming on the interior surface due to condensation on the cold interior surface...and is not coming from the exterior.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 8:26AM
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Has the exterior face of the block never been painted or finished?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 5:27PM
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I'm not sure if the water is coming through cracks or not. I can't see any cracks, but there might be tiny ones that I can't see.

The house was painted with house paint 4 years ago. There is no insulation in the walls.

There is a light coating of stucco over cinder block with furring strips on the inside, then the drywall. The house was built by a mason.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 11:32PM
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Where are you located, and is it cold? I'd almost bet my next paycheck that your walls are cold due to uninsulated masonry, and therefore:

When the warm air contacts the cold exterior wall, it MUST AND WILL give up the water in the air....and your walls will drip with the condensation. The fact that a mason built the structure does not change the laws of thermodynamics.

If your live in a climate where winters occur, this will be an ongoing problem. The solution is to build a wall against your exterior walls, with insulation and a vapor barrior.

This home must have huge energy bills, no?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 9:16AM
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I'm in New Jersey. We do get some minor condensation on interior walls and windows in cold weather.

But the leaking I am talking about is definitely due to rain. It only occurs a few times a year during heavy rain storms and when the wind is coming from a certain direction, hitting the most exposed areas of the house on one side. I can literally see the water coming from certain spots through the porous cinder block. This does not occur on areas that are painted on the interior and it seems to occur in the same spots.

My heating bills are high, but not terrible. We insulated the attic pretty well knowing we didn't have much in the walls.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 8:13PM
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Block walls can actually be a pretty good insulated part of the house. It's your windows, doors, other protrusions as well as the ceiling that is the most heat loss concern. You can re-point any areas that need it and use dry-lock masonry paint, but it's going to mean keeping that maintained often, more often than even what the mfgr recommends. You might consider a full wall awterproofing membrane followed by furring strips with foam board inbetween, then a siding such as fiber cement. Your window and door openings will need to be trimmed creatively after they are properly flashed. Any other protrusions such as electrical and water spiquets will have to be addressed as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: dry-lock

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 8:48PM
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Amen to what Sierraeast said. Good product

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 9:06PM
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What is fiber cement? And what type of contractors do this type of work?

>You might consider a full wall waterproofing membrane followed by furring strips with foam board inbetween, then a siding such as fiber cement.

I was thinking of dry-lock but I would need to paint the entire house with it.

I also was considering vinyl siding & board insulation. I assume there's some way of adding the siding to the exterior.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 12:32AM
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When you painted the block a few years ago, you shouldn't have used regular house paint. There is a specific way to paint unfinished concrete block. It starts with a sealer/primer and ends with an elastomeric finish coat. The water could be condensing inside the voids of the block and dripping through to the inside. The cold-side vapor barrier was created by using the wrong paint. It's a coincidence that it happens when it rains, because it also happens to be 100% humidity during that weather event. The vapor barrier needs to be created on the heated side. You could salvage the situation by painting the interior with vapor barrier paint, and caulking/sealing well any other areas where air moves out toward the walls.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 2:55PM
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If a leak could be found by chatting on the internet I would be a rich man.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 5:45PM
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I lived in a concrete block house for a few years
when growing up.
the exterior walls got wet during the winter
and mildewed anything that was in contact with
them..and we have fairly mild winters.
best of luck

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 6:59PM
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jb, we have a brick house and had the same problem with one wall. We couldn't figure out why the drywall under the window kept crumbling. Thought it was a window leak, a leak from the attic, etc. I got tired of repairing the drywall every few months, so we hired an inspector. he checked the roof, the attic, the window, etc. and concluded that the brick was porous (house was built in '38). We sprayed on a waterproofing product that was guaranteed to work for ten years (then you have to re-spray it). It's been seven years so far - no leak.

Long story short, I believe you that it is coming through the cinder block. Was this happening before you painted the outside?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 11:05PM
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Your gonna need a quality Sealer that can work on various terrains, since i don't know if your leak is coming from a concrete or Hardwood Flooring site.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sealers

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 2:48PM
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There is extensive experience with CBS construction--probably 96% of residential and 60% of low-rise commercial--here in the rainy sub-tropics of So-Fla.

I'm suprised to find this block construction in NJ, done Florida-style, i.e. without insulation, and wonder how good the local builders are at executing it. But, I believe the OP that the issue IS wind-driven rain. The 'S' in CBS stands for Stucco, and that is the ONLY thing that makes an inherently leaky bare-block wall watertight.

What jumps out at me is the OP mentions a "light" coating of stucco. There is nothing "light" about a proper stucco job. It is a THREE-coat process, and the end result is over 1/2" thick. Again, the stucco is the primary water blocking factor. Paint/sealers only enter the equation "down the road", after foundation settling has caused hairline cracks.

Proper stucco IS the waterproof membrane. However, in a place like NJ with real winters, the other posters are correct that, rain aside, you probably need to clad the exterior with some kind of stiff insulation and, style permitting, fiber-cement planking. If you wish to keep the stucco look, there are EIFS systems that can be stuccoed-over.

The EIFS systems typically include features that allow exterior condensation to drain away... make sure the stucco guy does NOT clog these.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 1:02PM
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colorcrazy...that was some
he figured out that brick was porus!
what your problem really is ..
is lack of proper flashing or a
failed drainage plane under that brick.

ALL brick is porus as are concrete blocks.

neither are good insulators.(thus the condensation issues)

water proofing will need to be re-applied
in a few years.

and under stucco goes a stucco wrap which
goes over another layer of house wrap as the
stucco bonds to the wrap and the layer
behind it is the bond break.
these are better building practices nationwide.

best of luck

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 3:29PM
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and under stucco goes a stucco wrap which
goes over another layer of house wrap as the
stucco bonds to the wrap and the layer
behind it is the bond break.

That's interesting. By "bond break", do you mean a layer which resists moisture and/or thermal conduction?

Does your description work with concrete block, in a four-seasons climate? That's probably what OP needs in NJ, but in FL the "scratch" coat of stucco goes directly on the rather rough faces of the block, and bonds very well. Despite the high humidity, condensation is not an issue.

I'm wondering if OP in NJ has ever had occasion to drill into his stucco (to attach shutters, handrails, etc.), and would be able to check for thickness, layering, etc... still sounds to me--at this point--that he's got a sub-par stucco job.

(I need to learn more about the Northern methods, as I've inherited a brick house w/ CIP concrete basement/foundation in PA...)

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 4:04PM
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I have a similar issue with my brand new house in central florida (Melbourne). Two weeks after we moved in, there was a big thunder storm. Our house is two story with the first story concrete block and second is wood frame. We had water dampness in the garage concrete block. I called the builder and asked him to find the root cause. They claimed it was because the wrong type of flashing was used between the block and wood. So, they cut the stucco off carefully, removed the flashing, and applied the correct flashing, put peel and stick and then redid the stucco and painted. It was fine until today. We had another wind driven rain storm and I see some small dampness in the same garage wall on the concrete block. Yikes.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 8:24PM
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Someone please help!!!! The entire side of my house is made of cinder blocks and during rcent rains, I've had much water come inside the entire lenghth of the cinder block wall that includes several rooms as well as water entering the bassemwnt. What can I do? There's a strong smell (mildew/mold). Hurry with answers please.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 10:09PM
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