Moisture in Basement and House

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Coolstavi
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Moisture in Basement and House

Post by Coolstavi » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:34 pm

Hello,

I had an individual do mold control for our unfinished basement. He cut out the bottom half of our wall, put in new insulation and then sealed it. Unfortunately, he did a terrible job and things in my basement are getting ruined due to moisture. I store baseball cards down there and they are getting warped and things feel slimy and wet. I put a dehumidifier down there but it doesn't seem to always work. Does anyone have any advice? A lot of my things are getting ruined and it is very frustrating...

michaeljc70
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:28 pm

I am not sure how what they did would really cause this. There was probably a problem before and them opening the wall just exposed it. I mean, did he do anything with the foundation? Was there stains and moisture behind where he cut out? If you didn't have moisture before, why did you do mold control?
Last edited by michaeljc70 on Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Coolstavi
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by Coolstavi » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:31 pm

Thanks for replying. I wonder if cutting into the original piece of insulation and making it two pieces has something to do with it. Plus I suspect he busted the window as the frame is out of place and I can easily push the window out using my hands. Just trying to figure out how to problem solve this as it is turning into a huge problem for me.

michaeljc70
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:39 pm

I'd definitely get the window fixed. But that seems like it wouldn't make your whole house damp unless water was pouring in. You said it was unfinished, but it is insulated and there is a wall? Is it just drywalled on the perimeter? Sorry, but I don't have any other ideas. Have you tested the humidity level? They sell cheap hygrometers on Amazon.

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Coolstavi
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by Coolstavi » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:45 pm

Yeah, that's what makes this so strange. The dehumidifier that runs reads anywhere from 30-40 which you think you would be ok. However, there is this slimy feel on my stuff from time to time. Everything got worse after he was done so I wonder if him opening up half of the wall and maybe not sealing it fully is causing this?

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Mlm
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by Mlm » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:46 pm

If you had mold there was a moisture problem to begin with. Just replacing the insulation isn't going to cure that.
Is the new insulation or the foundation behind it moist again?
If it is, you may need to seal the walls with something like DryLok paint. I would get a good contractor or handyman to take another look at it.

carolinaman
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by carolinaman » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:57 am

Do you have a french drain around the perimeter of your house? Do you have gutters and are they routed away from the house, ideally they should be piped for 10' or more from house. Does your yard slope away from the house?

I ask these questions because those are things that can prevent water from getting into your basement. There may less expensive things that can be done in the basement, like sealing walls and dehumidifiers, to deal with moisture already in the basement. You may want to try those first, but the root cause is that water is getting into your basement. The ideal solution is to prevent water from getting into your basement. You said that moisture level was 30 to 40% which is quite low. Have you checked moisture at different points within the basement and have you checked at different times. For example, shortly after a hard rain? You should not have your condition if moisture level is always at that level.

This can become an expensive problem and there are plenty of people who will oversell water remediation services like sealing the entire basement. I suggest you find some reputable contractors to assess your situation as a starting point. Hopefully, you can find a reasonably priced solution that is good enough for your situation.

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lthenderson
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by lthenderson » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:00 am

Coolstavi wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:34 pm
He cut out the bottom half of our wall, put in new insulation and then sealed it.
Moisture levels inside a basement are inherit to the house, lifestyles and areas of water infiltration and nothing the repair person did increased the levels of humidity. However, if he "sealed" your walls with an water barrier where none was present before, the humidity will now be trapped on the "inside" instead of being absorbed by the insulation and causing your mold problems. The only way to remove this moisture is with a dehumidifier or to change other things to stop putting moisture in the air. (i.e. use range hoods and bathroom exhaust fans all the time and for longer periods of time.)

The slimy feeling you are sensing might be from previous periods where the humidity levels were much higher than 30 or 40 percent which shouldn't be high enough to causing problems.

euroswiss
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by euroswiss » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:36 am

I don’t understand what you mean by “dehumidifier doesn’t always work”. If you really run the dehumidifier consistently set to 30-40% then the should be no mold issue. 30-40% humidity is extremely dry - if it never gets above that you are not dealing with mold.

NoVa Lurker
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by NoVa Lurker » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:47 am

We live in Northern Virginia, everybody has to deal with moisture problems. We bought a house that had french drains around 3 of the basement walls, and a sump pump. Long story short, we now have the french drain around all 4 of the basement walls. But more importantly, we had the outside of our house re-graded, we re-routed a few gutters, and we added downspouts that go underground. Rain falling on our roof now mostly gets taken about 10-12 feet away from the house. The sump pump almost never runs anymore, which shows water isn't getting to the french drains very often.

To sum up what everyone is telling you, you need to (1) prevent moisture from ever getting to your basement, and (2) get rid of the moisture that does get to your basement.

#2 is simple, just run your dehumidifier more. Get a bigger dehumidifier if needed. Make sure it drains properly or, if it just has a tub that collects the water, make sure to empty it regularly and clean out the inside with a bit of bleach on a rag. If the dehumidifier stops and it still feels humid in your basement, then something is wrong with the dehumidifier, obviously.

#1 is the harder part. We had a "gutter consultant" come out and make a bunch of suggestions, which we followed as described in the first paragraph above. We also got rid of a paver patio on the side of our house - now it's a mulched area with a few bushes, and then grass. We didn't use the patio, and the extra hardscape wasn't doing any favors to our drainage.

Now we only run the dehumidifier for a few hours a day, during a few months in the summer, and the basement feels no different than our living room. During our first couple years in the house, the basement felt "like a basement" - heavy, humid, even damp.

You will have a lot of future problems if you don't solve the moisture in the basement.

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Coolstavi
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by Coolstavi » Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:32 am

Yeah, the slimy feel is new so that is what I am concerned about. It just reminds me of condensation forming on things. I had my air purifier off in the basement and things got a lot worse so I am thinking that needs to be on to help with air circulation? Also, any ideas on where my dehumidifier should be placed? It's a pretty open area so I have it planted out in the middle facing the side where the wall was replaced and where the window is.

Carl53
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by Carl53 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:12 pm

Coolstavi wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:34 pm
Hello,

I had an individual do mold control for our unfinished basement. He cut out the bottom half of our wall, put in new insulation and then sealed it. Unfortunately, he did a terrible job and things in my basement are getting ruined due to moisture. I store baseball cards down there and they are getting warped and things feel slimy and wet. I put a dehumidifier down there but it doesn't seem to always work. Does anyone have any advice? A lot of my things are getting ruined and it is very frustrating...
Decades ago we had a home that we rented out as we were unable to sell. When the renters moved out we discovered a basement interior wall that had extensive water damage and dark stains, likely mold on the lower half. Cause was a leaking water line that apparently been doing so for some time. We had the water line repaired and like you had the bottom half of the wall removed and repaired. I do recall using a dehumidifier too.

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hand
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by hand » Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:58 pm

Damp basements are typically caused by two factors:
1) Water infiltration
2) Condensation

Water infiltration is easiest to see / understand and is typically addressed with gutters, grading, and perhaps mitigated by sealing the foundation and a sump system.

Irrespective of efforts to address water infiltration, cool basements in warm months are susceptible to condensation (think a cool glass of lemonade on a warm summer’s day). This condensation is best addressed by 1) air sealing the basement (rim joists, and windows), 2) appropriately insulating the basement foundation (no fiberglass!) to raise the temperature of exposed walls, and 3) mechanical dehumidification – a sufficient dehumidifier.

It sounds like your contractor tried to address the symptom – mold – and did a poor job of it. What needs to be done is to address the underlying causes. A massive amount of mechanical dehumidification would likely do the job at a high ongoing cost, but you’re probably better off also exploring air sealing and proper insulation. Also, move the baseball cards out of the basement!

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unclescrooge
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by unclescrooge » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:00 pm

Coolstavi wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:32 am
Yeah, the slimy feel is new so that is what I am concerned about. It just reminds me of condensation forming on things. I had my air purifier off in the basement and things got a lot worse so I am thinking that needs to be on to help with air circulation? Also, any ideas on where my dehumidifier should be placed? It's a pretty open area so I have it planted out in the middle facing the side where the wall was replaced and where the window is.
What's the capacity of your dehumidifier?

Topic Author
Coolstavi
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by Coolstavi » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:20 pm

hand wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:58 pm
Damp basements are typically caused by two factors:
1) Water infiltration
2) Condensation

Water infiltration is easiest to see / understand and is typically addressed with gutters, grading, and perhaps mitigated by sealing the foundation and a sump system.

Irrespective of efforts to address water infiltration, cool basements in warm months are susceptible to condensation (think a cool glass of lemonade on a warm summer’s day). This condensation is best addressed by 1) air sealing the basement (rim joists, and windows), 2) appropriately insulating the basement foundation (no fiberglass!) to raise the temperature of exposed walls, and 3) mechanical dehumidification – a sufficient dehumidifier.

It sounds like your contractor tried to address the symptom – mold – and did a poor job of it. What needs to be done is to address the underlying causes. A massive amount of mechanical dehumidification would likely do the job at a high ongoing cost, but you’re probably better off also exploring air sealing and proper insulation. Also, move the baseball cards out of the basement!
This is all very good. Probably the first thing I need to do is fix the window and the busted frame this guy caused. When you say air seal, how do you do that with the basement walls and the foam insulation? I have about half of the rim joints insulated with an r-19 insulation my brother in law recommended. Sounds like we need to finish that part of the project.

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Coolstavi
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by Coolstavi » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:21 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:00 pm
Coolstavi wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:32 am
Yeah, the slimy feel is new so that is what I am concerned about. It just reminds me of condensation forming on things. I had my air purifier off in the basement and things got a lot worse so I am thinking that needs to be on to help with air circulation? Also, any ideas on where my dehumidifier should be placed? It's a pretty open area so I have it planted out in the middle facing the side where the wall was replaced and where the window is.
What's the capacity of your dehumidifier?
50 pints. I use the bucket because I want to see how much water it collects everyday. So far I'd say it consistently fills up half way each day.

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hand
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by hand » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:48 pm

Coolstavi wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:20 pm

This is all very good. Probably the first thing I need to do is fix the window and the busted frame this guy caused. When you say air seal, how do you do that with the basement walls and the foam insulation? I have about half of the rim joints insulated with an r-19 insulation my brother in law recommended. Sounds like we need to finish that part of the project.
Window would be my first fix as well. No sense trying to dehumidify the great outdoors!

I spray foamed the rim joists to air seal, then added foam insulation to the foundation walls to insulate, however there are several recommended assemblies according to Building Sciences.

Be aware that:
1) Fiberglass batts (irrespective of “R value”) do not air seal, and won’t prevent warm moist air from entering your basement
2) Most foam board insulation (as well as spray foam) often does not meet fire codes and should be covered


Lots of people (including contractors) do this wrong – it is worth learning what is right and doing it right assuming you’re in the house for the long term. From memory 30% of heat loss is through basement(!) so there’s a financial payback as well as comfort.

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Coolstavi
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Re: Moisture in Basement and House

Post by Coolstavi » Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:13 pm

hand wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:48 pm
Coolstavi wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:20 pm

This is all very good. Probably the first thing I need to do is fix the window and the busted frame this guy caused. When you say air seal, how do you do that with the basement walls and the foam insulation? I have about half of the rim joints insulated with an r-19 insulation my brother in law recommended. Sounds like we need to finish that part of the project.
Window would be my first fix as well. No sense trying to dehumidify the great outdoors!

I spray foamed the rim joists to air seal, then added foam insulation to the foundation walls to insulate, however there are several recommended assemblies according to Building Sciences.

Be aware that:
1) Fiberglass batts (irrespective of “R value”) do not air seal, and won’t prevent warm moist air from entering your basement
2) Most foam board insulation (as well as spray foam) often does not meet fire codes and should be covered


Lots of people (including contractors) do this wrong – it is worth learning what is right and doing it right assuming you’re in the house for the long term. From memory 30% of heat loss is through basement(!) so there’s a financial payback as well as comfort.
I've wondered about spray foaming. Expensive, right? We are also thinking of finishing the basement within the next year so I wonder if there is a good temporary fix.

Our foundation walls do not feel cold when touch. The concrete next to them does though. We seem to be losing a lot of heat and our first story floors always feel cold.

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