Tuckpointing To Fix Basement Dampness (with Pics)? - Remodeling - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 01-11-2008, 11:06 AM   #1
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Tuckpointing to fix basement dampness (with pics)?

Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum.

My wife and I recently bought a nearly-fully-renovated 100 year old house.

I say nearly because the only place that needs work is the basement. It's too small and cramped to ever be more functional than just storage, but we've got a lot of paper (books/letters/photos) that we'd like to store down there.

Unfortunately, the basement is damp. It's not wet - I've got a sump pump (I haven't heard it turn on since we've been in the house (but, yes, I do know it works)), and I've never seen any actual water down there, even after a pretty good rain, but it is definitely moist. I'm pretty sure the externals are OK: the back and side are covered in pavers, and they guide the water away from the house and out to the street.

I was originally told to put some drylock on it. I bought a wire brush and started to remove the old, crumbling paint/plaster. The first two pictures show a couple of shots of what I have to work with.

As I was scraping off plaster, I kept noticing that the mortar was coming off, too. In many places, it had essentially turned to a packed dirt that I could scrape away with a fingernail. This is a close up shot of what the mortar looks like.

One thing led to another, and I began to start thinking about tuckpointing the entire basement. I bought an angle grinder, and started removing the old mortar, to about a 1-2 inch depth (or to where it began to feel solid). I bought some quikcrete mortar mix (type N, I believe, though I'm not looking at it right now) and did a small section (about 18 by 24 inches). I did that section over three weeks ago, and it still hasn't dried. It's cold here, (Pennsylvania), but it still seems to be taking a long time. This photo shows what it looks like today.

So, first, thanks for taking the time to read my sob story. I've got a few questions for anyone kind enough to help me out. First, am I completely out of my mind? Will tuckpointing, then drylocking help with the dampness problem, or is this mostly just an exercise in futility, at least as far the dampness goes? Second, does it seem like I'm going about this in the right way?

I appreciate your help. Thanks in advance.


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Old 01-12-2008, 04:50 PM   #2
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I would put ZERO books,papers or valuables in a 'damp' basement. I doubt the damp comes from the mortar being soft to the touch,,,much more likely to be coming UP from floor area. other consideration is what does the outside perimeter look like?? Soil slope away from foundation for at LEAST 10'??? AND the last foot or two,next to foundation should slope at least 4-6 inches!!(AND thats NOT toward the wall either!!!) (most are like that) What about gutters and downspouts?? Funtional or FULL of leaves and debris?? Where does water stand or puddle WHEN it IS raining?? other factor,what part of the country do you live in and whats the average rainfall??

You MIGHT try a dehumidifier down there to see if it improves much. Important paper things belong stored in an upstairs closet,,,they wont keep in DAMP places!!


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Old 01-14-2008, 09:12 AM   #3
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I didn't think of the floor, but that makes sense. In places, it's just dirt, so I think I'll probably need to do something with the floor, though it will probably need to wait until I've finished all the mortar.

I've had a couple people suggest trying a dehumidifier, but I've gotten just as many "not sure if it will help, but it can't hurt" responses as I've gotten recommendations.

Thanks for your suggestion.
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Old 01-14-2008, 09:36 AM   #4
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Are there any type of vents for air circulation?
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Old 01-14-2008, 09:53 AM   #5
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or is this mostly just an exercise in futility, at least as far the dampness goes?

As noted above,...... Find another spot to store your Paper Goods.......

If this is anything like the other 100 year old foundations I've seen,......
It'll cost you slightly More than the price of the house to actually have a Dry Basement..........
In other words,......
This little venture would probably lead to jacking up the house,+ installing a New poured concrete Foundation..........
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Old 01-28-2008, 05:49 AM   #6
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I am having a similiar problem in my 100 yr old home,

did you drylock the entire basement ?
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Old 01-31-2008, 01:55 PM   #7
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Am I the only one that thinks he should stop grinding out the old mortar and tuckpointing? Don't you have to use exactly the right mortar on these old foundations? Seems like I saw somewhere that you have to use the right amount of lime so that the mortar has some plasticity to it. Otherwise the mortar will crack. Perhaps that mortar that's in there right now is the right one. Is it actually cracked and failing or does it just scrape out easy?

Maybe one of the masons that frequent here will chime in.


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