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Basement Walls / Moisture

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by PhiNomina, Nov 16, 2010.

  1. PhiNomina

    PhiNomina White-Collar Redneck Club Member

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    Hey guys -

    I'm a novice to this whole home improvement thing so was looking for some advice.

    I live in Cleveland in a home that is over 70 years old.

    The basement has slight moisture issues. I don't have puddles but there is always a few spots on the floor and near the walls that are damp. The spots are never bigger than, say, an iPhone.

    The block walls were painted previously and are now bubbling and peeling. The floor was also painted and has almost completely flaked off. The walls have some small black areas from moisture, though I am not sure if it is mold (it doesn't look like a growth and hasn't changed or expanded).

    First question - can I use a pressure washer on my block walls to remove the paint? It is a fairly large area and in the interest of time and laziness this would be the easiest method. I have a drain in the basement and a dehumidifier to try to remove the moisture after I am finished. I don't want to damage the walls.

    Second question - can I use a product like Drylok on the interior of the walls? If moisture is coming through now, I am concerned that a product like this will just trap that moisture in the blocks and cause further damage.

    This is a starter home and I won't be here longer than 5-7 years so it isn't worth digging out the outside of the house and resealing the entire place. I need a cheap but decent fix so my wife isn't terrified to go into our basement.
     
  2. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    May sound crazy Bro, but try looking up "fix basement leaks" on youtube, 90% of the time when I have something I have no experience with youtube will have a whole slew of videos on the subject.

    The most obvious thing is to check your gutters and make sure they water they drain is running away from the home, sounds like common sense but you would be surprised.
     
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  3. Themole

    Themole Season Ticket Holder

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    Answer to Q1: Yes, BUT with much caution. You do not want to use a PW that puts out more than 2.5 gpm. 1200 to 1500 psi is perfect. Do your calculation on how many square feet you have to clean. Then do a test patch to determine how long it will take to clean a 4x8, 32 square feet of wall. This will give you the total volume of water you will be putting into the floor drain (can the 70 year old floor drain handle the amount of water you will putting into it?).

    Make sure the drain works first, by putting the water hose in the drain for five or so minutes, to see how good it drains. If it doesn't drain well, FORGET the PW!

    You will have to put some mesh screen in the drain hole to serve as a filter to catch the paint flakes.

    If you are satisfied that your drain functions as it should. You can proceed with the washing.

    There are three more points of concern though. DON'T wet the ceiling AND stay away from electrical outlets! You can DIE! Water, electricity and wet concrete are not compatible, wear sneekers. Last but not least, don't use a gas powered PW in the basement, use an electric PW, exhaust fumes will kill too.
     
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  4. maynard

    maynard Who, whom?

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    using a power washer inside of a house? i would die or do serious damage lol. sounds like a high confidence/ high experience job. though i guess it depends on how built up the basement is and how it is set up

    sounds like it could be a drainage issue like pads said. that would be great if it was. otherwise it could be a real serious problem. if so, whether you keep it or sell it, you will pay for its repairs one way or another. i would ask around and see if someone would be willing assess it for you before you move forward
     
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  5. PhiNomina

    PhiNomina White-Collar Redneck Club Member

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    Thanks for all the help, guys. The mesh over the drain was a life saver.

    The PW didn't get the paint off the walls like I had hoped, but it took off all the loose and bubbling stuff. Hoping that even though they look like crap since they are only half-painted, there will be less flaking and peeling so less mess.

    The PW indoors was a bit of an adventure but we did as mentioned and kept it at low pressure and followed with a scraper to get anything the PW missed. Didn't cause any damage, though controlling the water / moisture was a challenge.

    The basement looks like crap but is way, way cleaner now.

    I'm assuming that anything I try to paint on top of the half-brick / half-painted walls is just going to flake off?
     
  6. Themole

    Themole Season Ticket Holder

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  7. BigDogsHunt

    BigDogsHunt Enough talk...prove it!

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    You might want to investigate what is causing the moisture/puddles in the first place and fix and seal that....otherwise this primer/repaint is just a bandaid and will continue to be a Money/Time Pit.
     
  8. NJFINSFAN1

    NJFINSFAN1 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    What we did (and we had the same problem) was a cheaper version of french drains. The cinder blocks can hold water and it rises as the water level does, it will always find a way out.

    We but small holes just above floor level with a small hose going to the sump pump, so basically one small hose runs along the wall and and every 10 or so feet a piece of hose comes out of the cinder block into the main hose to the sump pump.

    Made a huge difference.
     
  9. Themole

    Themole Season Ticket Holder

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    There aren't many basements down here in FLA. Water table is just too high in most places.
     
  10. finyank13

    finyank13 Reality Check

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    Do you have a french drain? or a sump pump?
     
  11. DrAstroZoom

    DrAstroZoom Canary in a Coal Mine Luxury Box

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    ... or a dehumidifier?
     
  12. PhiNomina

    PhiNomina White-Collar Redneck Club Member

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    I just have two drains in the floor and no sump pump. I run a dehumidifier and it is helps for the most part. I'm not really concerned with the slight moisture as much as I am the mess of flaking paint and mess. From most of the people I've talked to the moisture is common for a house that old (also very close to the lake) and as long as it isn't a puddle or standing water but just small spots of moisture it shouldn't cause much damage (I hope).

    Since the moisture is minimal and this is a starter house I don't want to sink a couple grand into digging up around the house and sealing it or installing a sump pump. I'll be gone in 5 years and never see that money in the resale value (I've already replaced the roof which hurt enough).

    I was hoping to make the basement usable for laundry and storage without putting a lot of money into it - that's why I wanted to paint the walls, so I think I'll try the Killz stuff on a small portion and see how that holds for a few months before doing the entire basement. If that doesn't work I'll look into installing the hoses around the base. That sounds like it could be done without much trouble.
     
  13. Themole

    Themole Season Ticket Holder

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    I wish I had more (any) experience with basement problems to help, but there aren't that many down here.

    Spend some time with Google on the problem and see what you come up with. Use the Home Improvement Forums. You've proven that you have the common sense to ask and act on the advice you have received here. Don't be afraid of jumping on projects where the advice you seek makes sense to you.

    Believe it or not but you saved yourself $800-1200 by doing the work on your basement by asking for advice here. I've remodeled every house I've owned since 1975 and flipped them for handsome profits. I've never hired any electricians, plumbers or carpenters. You are on the right track to saving tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your life by learning how to do these relatively simple task.

    I'm proud of you!
     
  14. PhiNomina

    PhiNomina White-Collar Redneck Club Member

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    Thanks! It turned out great. Doesn't LOOK great but the mess and moisture is way down and my wife is no longer scared to go down there by herself haha.
     
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  15. maynard

    maynard Who, whom?

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    killz works great. hey, if you can manage this and mask what might be going on, you could get away with this when you sell it. def. running the dehumidifier will be good, at least to get rid of any smell
     
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  16. jdang307

    jdang307 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Yeah the moisture in the floor is common. Not always a leak or a drainage problem. Im brand new to home improvement but my girlfriend is an insurance adjuster so knows quite a bit and is in real tight with a bunch of contractors. I'm in San Diego, and our foundation had moisture
     
  17. DeDolfan

    DeDolfan Premium Member Luxury Box

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    While a pressure washer would get the job done, I wouldn't recommend it but would opt for some kind of mechanical removal, say a wire brush in a drill. the biggest reason I say this is because no matter how careful you are or small a washer you use, there will still be too much moisture getting into the ceiling and doing it's evil deeds. A drill/brush combo should suffice and not take too much longer. it will remove any loose, flaky stuff you have and it is not necessary to remove every bit down to the bare block. A good liberal sealer, like the dry-lok you mentioned, should help a lot. But before that, check for any cracks or missing mortar in the blocks, etc and be sure to fill them all first. But, be fortunate that you only have what little moisture you do have as it can really be a mess sometimes. Most water problems happen when the water table is higher than normal.
    I've experienced this a few times and has worked pretty well. But remeber that moisture is one thing, water intrusion is another. if you ever experience flooding in your basement from something other than water pipes breaking, etc, then you have more extensive problems.
     
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  18. 2socks

    2socks Rebuilding Since 1973

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    Hey I have some answers to your questions. I am a residential contractor in Atlanta, Ga. I currently have 4 basements I am finishing for people right now. I personally do all the work.

    You want to first prep the foundation walls with a concrete etching chemical. Beware this stuff has fumes and you should have good ventilation and no matter what wear a respirator. The concrete etching chemical is like a paste, comes in gallon jugs at home depot and costs $19 a gallon. Apply to the walls and it etches or removes most of, not all, the remaining paint that did not get removed with the power washer.

    Once the walls are etched, (needed for new sealer to stick), apply 1 of 2 products. If you skip this step you will regret it. The new stuff will simply not stick with all the moisture. You should run a dehumidifier for a minimum of 1 week 24/7 after etching and before even considering go any further. The longer you can run it the better. Either use Behr concrete sealer or Drylock. Drylock is by far the best product. You can even get it tinted now in Home Depots paint dept. The Behr is also tintable. Before you seal the walls make sure you get a crack sealer (comes in a tube) and seal any cracks that are 1/8" or larger before you use the drylock.

    Make sure that you follow the manufacturers instructions exactly and plan on 2 coats of the drylock. The tubes that other posters are referring to can be installed about 1 1/2 " from bottom of cinder block above the floor. These are known as weep tubes and are normally installed in brick on the exterior of the house. If they are necessary to be installed on the inside you got a lot more going on then a simple leaky foundation.

    There is another thing you can do in the spring. It is inexpensive to do. And 85% of the time solves most water problems. Dig down around the foundation about 18". Pick a high spot say in the front left corner. Start there at say 16" and slope down along the foundation wall to 18" at the back left corner. Do the same on right and along the back and front. Bury a 4" corrugated pipe around the perimeter of the house. Bury the pipe in cheap stones, small #2 works great. Then cover the pipe with the remaining dirt. It is important to bury the pipe in stones so dirt doesn't clog up the pipe over time. You should end up with a square of pipe running around the perimeter of your house. The shallowest or high point is the starting point and lower point is the deepest, at the finish point .....so the water when present will drain to the low end. You do not need to slope the pipe more then 1/4 inch per 10 feet. Carry the low end of the pipe away from the foundation a minimum of 10'.............whala no more water problems.
     
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  19. PhiNomina

    PhiNomina White-Collar Redneck Club Member

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    Thanks so much for the help, guys. I used the pressure washed but stopped a few feet down from the top of the wall to limit the amount of moisture that got into the floorboards above. I'm going to attack the rest with a wire brush - though most of the flaky stuff was removed.

    Most of the basement is just storage - but around the laundry area I'm going to try the etching and then painting. If I can make that area nice it will help the entire basement - I might even wall it off to appear like its own room. Drylok sounds like the perfect product.

    I tore out some old wood cabinets that had rotted out and after the pressure washing it seems like the entire basement is much drier than before. I patched the floor with some quick drying concrete and there are still moisture spots in the patches - and this is a few weeks later. I assume it is drawing water from below and pulling it up through this stuff. It isn't wet to the touch - just in the biggest patches it looks like they haven't completely dried. Hope that isn't a bad sign.
     
  20. 2socks

    2socks Rebuilding Since 1973

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    You could also try hydrolic cement for patches like that. Home Depot once again and dries in like 5 minutes once you have mixed it.

    The wire brush sounds like a lot of work. You could also try a drill with a wire wheel that spins. Just make sure you wear a respirator. They cost $30 but they are worth every penny. Since your house is older you want to make sure their is no lead paint. If you are scraping any kind of paint (know way of knowing except by testing with chemicals.....available kit at Home depot($19)), you should treat it as if it were lead paint. It does not take much to breath in for you to be poisoned. If the house is newer then 1980 then you have no worries. Enough lead dust breathed in could kill you or seriously damage your lungs. Not trying to scare you, just want you to be safe. If you have lead paint one way of dealing with it legally and safely is to encapsulate it. Basically that means painting over it with a good quality paint or apoxy such as drylock.

    Wood is a moisture sponge. The rotted part tells me that this was the source of some of the high humidity problems. Probably a good move on your part.

    Good luck with it my friend
     
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  21. Ohio Fanatic

    Ohio Fanatic 30 years and counting Club Member

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    I had a similar problem (including a wife that wouldn't go into the basement).
    -patched the walls
    -put 1.5 inch foam insulation boards on all the concrete walls
    -put insulated (Barricade) flooring all the floor
    -these 2 things themselves cut almost all the moisture that was seeping into the basement. originally I was going to stop there, but I got addicted to the home improvement thing. but you could at least put the foamboard up on the walls. cleans the place up, warms up the basement a little.

    -framed out the basement, added another layer of insulation, drywalled... just finished the drop-ceiling last week.
    -It was a lot of work, but SO worth it. Now it's a big playroom during the week, and a football room with new big screen TV on Sundays.
    -even if it's only a home for 5-7 years, it was worth it.
     

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