dampness & mildew on inside of wall

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by omnicat, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    My house is concrete block - stucco on the outside, plaster on the inside (no insulation...but that's a years-down-the-road fix). I do have a water/foundation issue on the west side. The land slopes TOWARD the foundation three feet from the house, so water will sit against the foundation after heavy rains.

    I'm planning on fixing that by bringing in topsoil, and grading away.

    The first floor is about 2 1/2 - 3 feet up from ground level. on the inside of the northwest corner (my kiddo's room), the wall is frequently damp to the touch. Not beads, like condensation on a glass, but evenly damp. Occasionally growing a bit of mildew. I've been taking an old towel to it, and dry it off/removing the spots with no trouble.

    My question is - can I assume this is related to the water touching the foundation? That the cinderblock is somehow wicking the wetness up and through? And do you think this will go away after I regrade?
     
  2. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Do you live in the south or north?
    Insulation or vapor barrier may need to be installed.

    Yes the regrading may fix this... It may not.

    More info is required.
     

  3. shiloh

    shiloh Active Member

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    Those concrete blocks are like a big hard sponge. There is stuff that you can get to really water proof them. Maybe do that before grading your place.
    You do want the water to run away from your wall and not toward it.
    I don't know if black mold can grow on concrete of not, but it is a real health hazzard.
     
  4. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There are lots of different problems, with many different solutions. We really can't assume to know from so far away. Other than yes you have a problem, and yes it should be fixed.

    The hollow spaces in blocks (not all are cemented solid; and even if they are, there are voids....) can chennel water that comes in from the side or from the top (roof can leak, water run down wall & fill block.....). In bad cases, you need to knock a hole in each hollow area & run a drain tube.

    Redirecting the water is a good idea. Just stacking regular dirt against the wall might not be a good idea - will that leave enough splash room from the top of the foundation; will your soil be the right type to redirect the water or just soak in anyhow; are you putting a barrier on the wall before putting dirt against it.... And so on.

    Many questions & details to figure out on such a project.

    --->Paul
     
  5. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    Ugh. So just re-grading may not be enough?

    Well, I'll probably do it anyhow in the next few weeks. It certainly can't hurt not to have a bog right there.

    More info:

    I'm in central Ohio.
    I'm assuming a connection between the water pooling outside there, and the inside problem, as the rest of the house is the same construction - and this seems to be the only place that is exhibiting this symptom.

    I guess I'll have to look into the vapor barrier thing.

    Insulation (well, EX-sulation) is the plan in the long run. Covering the outside of the house with rigid insulation before re-stucco-ing or painting or whathaveyou. But we can't afford it right now - that stuff's pricey!

    Maybe the fix will not be complete until that happens...

    (the sooner the better - you should just feel any outside wall from in here during the winter....sheesh!)
     
  6. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Remember that concrete block has insulation value similar to a pane of glass, in other words, not much.
     
  7. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I didn't mean to deter you from doing the landscaping. Just, you can have GREAT results, ok results, or it's possible the problem is something else & you don't get a solution. Just the little bit you added, sounds like that puddle is the source of your problem.

    If grading regular ol' dirt will then give you a free flow far away from the house, good deal.

    But if it only moves the water puddle 3 feet away from the house, you might need to add gravel channels or plastic tile to wick water far away, and or use clay over very sandy soil to get the water to flow away from the house, or......

    These water issues can be very straight forward, or they can be very difficult, and we shouldn't assume yours is easy......

    In any event, there are water channels into your foundation, and getting it dried out & coated on the outside would really help insure you solve the problem. Yes this is expensive & takes work, but something to just think about, if it applies to your situation, before you pile more dirt on the wall & the problem doesn't go away. Then you have to dig through the new dirt as well as the old to get down to coat the wall.

    Many different things can be wrong, many different ways to fix them.

    Grading, drainage, clay/plastic surface sealing, tar/plastic/rubber wall coating.....

    We better not lock you into one solution is all. :)

    But if you get good fall away from the house after the grading so the water leaves the area & your soil is not very sandy, should be all you need.

    --->Paul
     
  8. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    Remember that concrete block has insulation value similar to a pane of glass, in other words, not much.

    Don't I know it! I had an energy audit a year ago. My windows have a HIGHER R-value than my walls (which are an R2 - just for the record). So, strangely enough - I lose more heat through my walls than through my windows. How many people can make that claim? lol. I had my bed against an outside wall last winter. If I stretched in my sleep and touched the wall, the icy-coldness of it would wake me up! (We moved the bed to the other side)

    My neighbor's driveway is about 4 feet from the west side of my house. So I'm thinking, (and will encourge the direction with the grading), that the water will then go on its merry way south toward the street. Right now, the lowest point is against the house. Last year when I had a "pond" there, I actually took an old hose, suck it into the bog with a brick, led the other end toward the street, and sucked on it til the water started siphoning off and down to the street. Didn't take ALL the water, but a lot of it. :)

    I meant to do the grading before now (i'm such a stoopid procrastinator), but when I rearranged some funrinture in DD's room and noticed the wetness again, it got me off my butt. It's NOT going to take more than a few hours to deal with it. Sheesh.

    Crossing fingers it fixes the problem.
     
  9. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    I'm no construction or landscaping expert, but when we have had drainage problems in the past folks (experts) recommended to us that we dig a trench, fill with gravel, put in one of those plastic corrugated drainage pipe things with the holes in it, and I think cover with gravel and then put the dirt on top.

    We were advised this in two different locations by two different professionals for two different drainage problems. Seems like it might help your sitch too.

    I grew up in a cinderblock house and we *did* get standing water in the corners, despite running a dehumidifier 24x7. This house even had brick on the outside but it still got really cold and wet. Thank goodness we were in the south; Ohio would be much worse. You have my sympathies.
     
  10. peacebaker

    peacebaker Well-Known Member

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    We had a similar problem in a bedroom of our home, and we decided it's because of poor insulation (it's on the north corner, so is the coldest). Also, our house doesn't "breathe" very well so moisture is trapped inside. Eventually we'd like better insulation too, and a heat exchanger to bring in fresh air efficiently, but for the short term here's what's worked so far for us:

    1. Moved furniture away from the exterior wall to allow for better airflow.
    2. Kept door open more--we were closing the bedroom door at night and you'd be amazed how much moisture two adults' respiration can make! (and a dog). When this was trapped in the room, it had to go somewhere and tended to "condense" on the cold walls or windows.
    3. Kept the thermostat a little bit higher -- we normally like to keep the house a bit cooler in winter but a few degrees up on the thermostat helped keep things dryer...
    4. Opened windows ocassionally to exchange dry air into the house.

    I know #3 and #4 is not the most energy-efficient option, but we found (at least with a small home) the energy bills weren't effected that much, and for the short term it's a lot cheaper than insulating the entire house and re-siding :)
     
  11. silvergirl

    silvergirl Well-Known Member

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    Once mold or mildew are in an area, just wiping the surface or even washing the surface will not remove the spores within the wallboard or wall surface. You need to seal it and re-paint. Be careful with the mold or mildew - it is toxic and dangerous to yourself and your children. Use bleach to remove the surface spores, Kilz the area to seal it, and re-paint.

    There is an excellent concrete sealant called Dry-lok that is available in most home improvement stores... Scrape the dirt away from your affected area outside, seal with Dry-lok or a similar product - it prevents the moisture from entering the concrete wall or cinder blocks... gravel, drainage, and backfill as someone else suggested would then probably solve your problem fully.
    silvergirl
     
  12. cider

    cider Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This doesn't answer your question but on another note:
    We lived in a cinder block house in KY for many years. No insulation, great woodstove. When it got REALLY cold out DH would spray the outside of the house with water. The resulting ice would insulate things quite a bit.
    Stay warm and dry!
     
  13. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    When it got REALLY cold out DH would spray the outside of the house with water. The resulting ice would insulate things quite a bit.

    That's fascinating! I just may have to try it this winter.

    Not going to do the french drain thing (I thought about it as soon as I moved in) - because there is a buried electric line pretty much in the very spot I'd need to dig. Phooey. Regrading should do it - all the water needs is someplace to go...I'll just be giving it a little "nudge"
     
  14. Ole Man Legrand

    Ole Man Legrand Well-Known Member

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    Dose the house have gutters and if so are they piped away from the house?
     
  15. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    Gutters? Yes. Piped away from the house? Yes. In theory. I suspect that not all of them actually are clear, and may indeed be contributing to the problem. I'm wanting to install some rainbarrels, but until I can fund that, I think maybe cutting the drain near the ground, and running a pipe overland may be prudent.
     
  16. sidepasser

    sidepasser Well-Known Member

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    I live in a concrete block house/barn. Mucho experience with block after all these years.

    Not telling you which method will solve your problem - but here are a few things that worked for me:

    1. grading is nice and will move some of the water away but will not fix the problem permanently without gutters to channel the water down the slope away from house.

    2. You can dig around the foundation down to the footers and tar around the foundation (which is what I did) - there are other methods but tar was the cheapest and so far after 15 years - has held up well.

    3. Vapor barriors work well if applied properly under insulation.

    4. To get a temp fix on the mold/mildew, use a bleach solution and apply to walls. You can also use vinegar, but bleach works very well and is cheaper. Do not apply to walls that are painted - eek you will lose your paint color, but you can go to HD and find the mildew/mold killer for painted walls...

    Hope this helps, I fixed my problem which was only on one end of the barn end of the house. So far so good but it was a lot of work to pin point exactly where the water was coming from, stop it and then fix it so that it was channeled away from the building.