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Options for damp cinderblock walls

Posted by TerriB410 (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 28, 11 at 13:46

We have a partially finished basement, and would like to make the unfinished part more livable - just as a rec room for the kids. It has 2 unpainted cinderblock walls, one of which shows some dampness in 2 consistent spots, and some crystal formation whenever they dry out a little. We had several consultants come through a few years ago, and had quite a bit of exterior excavation and drainage management done (but stopped short of digging down all the way to the base of the foundation and applying a membrane). We've never had any actual water puddling, and don't even get condensation on plastic wrap when we've tried to do tests with taping a "vapor barrier" over the damp areas. I've called the Thoro Seal folks, and they said that it should not be used if the exterior of the wall had a sealant applied (which, it appears, it had - the black tar-looking stuff on this 27 year old house). We're considering studding out the wall (only placing studs on "dry" spots), and then attaching bamboo curtains to the studs. Our theory is that this would allow evaporation and therefore not encourage mold, but would give the walls a more finished look. Any opinions? I feel confident that we'd be satisfied with the cosmetics for our purposes, but don't want to either create more trouble (i.e., mold), or do something that might put off a future buyer. The room currently stays cozy and comfortable year-round, and the kids have even slept down there, unfinished walls and ceiling and all (we laid down those foam squares like you see in gyms, only in bright colors, so the floor is warm and soft). Also, I've seen a post on this forum that mentioned crystalline waterproofing - does anyone out there know if that might be appropriate for our situation?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Options for damp cinderblock walls

So all you have are two occasional damp spots. That indicates whatever you did outside is working. Certainly no need to do any waterproofing on the inside. BTW, the exterior tar looking stuff is probably asphalt cutback, which is supposed to inhibit dampness but is mostly useless.

If you're in a cold climate you would get a payback by insulating the above grade portion and the first four feet below grade.

I would use a dehumidifier, at least in the warm months, to keep relative humidity below 50%. This will inhibit mould growth and make for a more comfortable space. (Since people are sometimes sleeping there, remember to install smoke and CO detectors.)

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