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davidd 07-07-2008 02:19 AM

need help have a damp musty basement
 
hi every one i cant seem to get ride of dampness and musty smell in my basement and would like to know has any one used a ez-breathe filtration system or something similar they sound good but don't want to spend the money if they don't work i have a dehumidifier right now that just wont quite get the job done thanks in advance for the help or any other suggestions or if you need more info please let me know

ccarlisle 07-07-2008 07:39 AM

Well, here are some basic principles I have come across; first, I trust you have taken care of any visible signs of water infiltration (leaks on walls, open drains etc) so that you are now basically dealing with water vapour coming in through micro-sized openings in the cement floor, or walls, whatever you have there. This may be because your house is sitting on an underground stream or the water table is always high in your area. Do you have a sump pump?

The question is how you do you stop water coming in this way? Well, pretty hard. Seal the concrete slab and walls from the positive side (outside or underneath) is the best - but not always feasible. Alternatively, seal from the inside using a concrete sealer. But again not always practical but a darned sight easier than the first option. This will lower the water coming in not completely but mostly.

Then turn your attention to cleaning the existing mold off of all walls and floor...again easy if it is all concrete but you probably have carpets, wall coverings, furniture, ceiling tiles down there and that is where the smell comes from. Molds love cellulose and cellulose is in carpets, furniture, walls, wood trim, studs and some tiles. You're going to have to treat all of that to get rid of the mold and therefore the musty smell. You'll also have to increase the ventilation down there to keep the exiting water coming in a t reasonable levels, like below 30%RH.

statman 07-07-2008 11:03 AM

Damp.....you need to remove or eliminate the source of the moisture, period. Resealing concrete, etc. Definitely not cheap in most instances.
Musty....Increase airflow in the space and ensure the room has constant air changes.
Sorry if it sounds like I'm stating the obvious, but there are usually really no simple easy and cheap fixes to problems like this.

davidd 07-07-2008 10:47 PM

thank for the quick replies my house is about 140 years old the basement is about 1250 square feet with a 9' ceiling the floor and walls are all lime stone with a 15' deep cistern that i pumped to the bottom and use that as my sump pump hole and my soil after 2' down is clay i would just like to use for storage if nothing else but i hate the dampness thanks david

ccarlisle 07-08-2008 07:04 AM

Hmmm...interior cistern? boy, it's going to be tough ridding that space of dampness. IMO.

tell me what do you think the cistern was used for? to collect household wastewater for disposal via leeching into the ground? or to collect water. Most cisterns I am familiar with are there to collect water and are on the outside and built to be able to clean. But an indoor cistern? Clay soils hold water pretty well, as opposed to other soils, so I can only see that the depth plus the conditions are such that there's humidity enough around there to never really dry out. Was there a solid lid on it? did the lid have a hole on top or are there pipes leading into it from underground?. A picture would be great...

To leave a structure like that open means constant humidity; you may never be bale to reach a satisfactory humidity level that would not encourage mold, even with increased ventilation unless you go to great lengths to seal that structure up....sorry don't know what more I can add. Where are you located that cisterns were a feature of your houses?

Furthermore limestone walls unless parged will constantly let in humidity. Again sealing would be of benefit

davidd 07-09-2008 10:36 PM

it looks like the the cistern was used to collect rain water from the gutters i think that because there is a piece of a old down spout that goes threw the foundation right above it the cistern is all lime stone as well about 2 1/2' across it has a wooden cover on it now with two holes in it one for the dehumidifier to drain in and the other for the sump pump to get it out do you think if i fill it with rock or sand and then concreted the thing but leave about 2' sow i still have a sump basket would help ill try to get a picture of it to thanks david

ccarlisle 07-11-2008 07:48 AM

I know there are service companies that de-commission water wells and cisterns (that have a lot to do with municipal regulations and safety etc) but just to do that is a good-sized job...I think they just fill it in. 15 feet deep by 2.5 feet wide makes about 75 cubic feet of volume. If you were to fill that with concrete you'd need about 3 cubic yards, i.e. a cement-truck delivery with chutes etc.

I say that because I am fairly sure you'll always have recurrent humidity problems as the saturation of the soil increases and decreases with daily, weekly or monthly frequency. The wood top is at least one source of smell too; I was redoing a basement last month and they had a small 8"x8" plywood cover over a damp, moldy anti back-up valve. Been there for 20 years...Removing that one piece alone made quite a difference to the smell down there, so any source of cellulose should be either treated with antibacterials - or removed.

There are whole-house ventilation systems for about $600 that add air-change ventilation to your whole house. The main unit can sit in the basement or in the attic and 3-4" flexible tubing is piped into various rooms...I know it's a messy job doing that but sometimes it is the only way to bring in fresh outdoor air and remove stale indoor air. Remember mold need only a source of food (easy), humidity (plenty) and another mold (fun) to multiply out of control, producing smells as they go. I'd definitely look out for water damage type antbacterials that they use after a flood, put a plastic (if that's allowed) top on the cistern, then seal the concrete and the stone with a spray sealer meant for that. For 1250 sq ft you'll need a gallon of antibacterial, and a few gallons of something like "RadonSeal" - a product meant to seal damp concrete. Your dehumidifier will help but in actual fact it's too small to do anything substantial - and I don't even know the size. For fun, get yourself a reading of relative humidty down there and let us know what that is; from that I can tell you how many gallons of water are in the air down there - and what it really should be to start alleviating the problem. Fans will just blow the small around...that's an improvement down there but less pleasant upstairs...hence the ventialtion system I mentioned, called "VenMar".

Again what part of the country are you in?

KHouse75 07-12-2008 12:16 AM

Have you ever tried a dehumidifier? I'm just curious if that made any difference.

Being that old, there's nothing sealing the exterior walls or under the floor. The cistern doesn't help either. I'd fill and compact (every foot) the cistern with dirt. Remove the gutter lines from outside and plug the hole(s) running to the cistern with hydraulic cement.

If you need a sump to take care of ground water, you can then leave enough space at the top as you stated above. You probably don't have any footing drains so you could cut out the bottom of a sump put, fill with a layer of stone, add a cement block and set the pump ont it. Put the lid on the sump pit, fill with stone then cement it in. This will allow ground water get into the basin where it can be pumped out.

You really should have the exterior wall dug and exposed then waterproof but that's going to be expensive.

I'd try an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). They exchange the air and remove moisture. They don't work as good at removing moisture in humid areas but they are really inexpensive to operate and I think you'll see a huge difference in air quality. Plus you can buy and install one yourself.

You should be able to get a $500 - $600 model to handle 1250 sq ft. You'll need a controller and duct as well.

ccarlisle 07-12-2008 07:32 AM

That's all good stuff about filling the cistern and placing the sump pump there...

The OP already has a dehumifier down there but here's why it doesn't work: from what he told us, the dimensions of his basement are 1250 sq ft x 9' high, or 11,250 cu ft. Incidentally, the weight of the air down there is about 800 lbs.

Now if he already has musty smells down there, then at some point, the relative humidity must have been over 60% for a period of time for cellulosic materials to absorb this moisture and start to smell moldy. So, let's assume that the relative humidity down there is on average 50%. That's not too much during days when it can be 90% or during the winter heating months when it can go down to 30%, So let's say 50%. Let's also assume that it is a relatively constant temperature down there of 60 deg F...

I asked the OP where he was from, I don't know so I cannot say what climate zone he is in but either way, let's say his average daily outside temperature is 70 deg F. Average summers, average winters. Don't know if he has snow - but lets say, a bit.

Those figures suggest that there are 7 lbs of water, almost a gallon, in the air at all times. Now for a dehumifier to work at removing that one gallon of water, it would have to be able to reach all 4 corners of the basement to change the air. Household dehumidifers don't, can't do that as they don't have enough fan action. Maybe they'll take a cupful out of a bedroom after 6 hours but there is no way they'll take a gallon out of a room 35'x35'x9!

So dehumidification is not feasible. Temporay at best, but not permanent. The best IMO he can do is change the air and exhaust the 'wet' air inside with the air outside and try to eliminate as many sources of humidity and water as he can.

Exterior excavation around the perimeter (positive-side sealing) is most probably not feasible, nor cost effective. Probably $40,000 to remove a smell...yeah right. But interior waterproofing is do-able if you have access to the walls and floor. I assume the floor is concrete- easy to seal. The limestone walls less easy - but can be sprayed with a waterproofing agent. But the best is to try to eliminate the fact that cellulosic materials are in constant contact with air that is over 60% laden with moisture, which in turn means proper ventilation. EVRs if you like.

But removing wallpaper, wood, tiles, paper, garbage, newspapers is also feasible at even less cost. A bleach spray costs pennies. Ventilator fans running constantly will cost again pennies but all will help. Kill the mold, kill the smell...

geo fan 07-12-2008 01:27 PM

I agree
 
everything stated above is the truth . increase ventilation decrease water , the third step that i didn't see mentioned was addressing the mold/ mildew already growing in the dark corners the first two must be addressed first but after that the smell will only go a way if you address the microbial's that have set up shop down there. There is a company RGF they make a product series called the Guardian air, I'm sure everybody is aware of this but ill mention for mentioning sake. What this does is send a small amount of current through a tri metel compound over air this takes the hydrogen and oxygen and breaks and bonds them forming hydrogen peroxides (antiseptic) super oxides (anti fungal) and a few other cleaning agents that attach to humidity in the air and disinfect eliminate oder's and microbials. they sell a small wall plug in that has it's own fan . I would recommend this product.

ccarlisle 07-12-2008 02:53 PM

That's a different name for an ozone generator, which is a common tool used in disinfection after water damage incidents. Kills pretty well all plant life, including after a while humans. I don't know what a "hyperperoxide" is, never heard of it, don't know what it means chemically. If they can generate hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) out of water and 110V current, well good for them.

Hydrogen peroxide is a liquid. Disnfectant yes, but a liquid. Unstable too under many conditions. Ozone is a gas. I don't know whatother chemical compunds you could make out of water, but I am sure these people have a secret that no-one else has and that defies current science as we know it...

Yeah right.

8 Ball 07-12-2008 05:39 PM

Wow!! They should be making fuel cells instead of ozone generators. Isnt ozone something we should we should stay away from.

If they can generate enough ozone we can have R-12 back.

geo fan 07-12-2008 05:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ccarlisle (Post 138438)
That's a different name for an ozone generator, which is a common tool used in disinfection after water damage incidents. Kills pretty well all plant life, including after a while humans. I don't know what a "hyperperoxide" is, never heard of it, don't know what it means chemically. If they can generate hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) out of water and 110V current, well good for them.

Hydrogen peroxide is a liquid. Disnfectant yes, but a liquid. Unstable too under many conditions. Ozone is a gas. I don't know whatother chemicla compunds you could make out of water, but I am sure these people have a secret that no-one else has and that defies current science as we know it...

Yeah right.


Do the reasearch. You can make hrygro -peroxides with AIR by pass current over it . I am just a lowly hvac tech but these system's have ben installed on a job in Greenwich CT with a cust as uninformed as you . He decieded to do an independent air quility analisys and the resusts confermed every statment I have said. They happen to not be Ozone generaters but good guess. Ozone is a byproduct in the 5ppm range (about 1/50) of what are considered ozone generators. as far as liquid or a gas ALL COUMPUONDS CAN EXSIST AS A LUIQID OR A GAS GIVEN THE RIGHT PRESSURE AND TEMP. hygro perixiod is unstable when exposed to metal (courosive) in the luiqid state at constentrations over 40% again we are dealing with parts per million consentrations. Again not a scientist and obviosly neither are you but this system has ben presesnted to chemical engeneers , allergist , and docters and has sold. ARE you the moron that thinks spraying mold with bleach and wiping it off is a good idea not only will the poor guy be sick for a week (I know I was once an idiot myself) but there is absolutly no way he will get it all
Again do not call me a liar or that I dont know what Im talking about if you cant back it up I have ben wrong before and will be wrong again . but not today

hydro peroxioded consists of hydrogen / and 2 oxygen molicules and exists naturaly in close to these consetrations in nature (especialy after a lightning storm ) and none of use have fallen dead from it yet

The long term energy future will use solor panel on you roof to run currunt through a water tank using specific metel compounds to just release the hydrogen(how do you think the make it now) this hydrogen will then be compresed into a liquid state and used to fill your car and heat your home with oxygen depleated water as the only byproduct.

Aint science cool

8 Ball 07-12-2008 05:45 PM

Getting kinda testy arent we Geo.

geo fan 07-12-2008 06:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 8 Ball (Post 138494)
Wow!! They should be making fuel cells instead of ozone generators. Isnt ozone something we should we should stay away from.

If they can generate enough ozone we can have R-12 back.

Sup 8 yeah ozone at surface levels is a bad thing. and believe it or not the ozone depletion up the troposphere is causing higher ground level ozone. As far as being dangerous under high concentrations yes, there are people that are allergic as well . and ozone generators have caused these problems , this equipment has not and thats for living space , installed in a ventilate basement makes the concern almost absurd.
the set up I talked about is limited a by cost and b. the current k.w. out put of even the best p.v. system still isnt enough ( that tech is holding it back more then fuel cell tech or vapor compression tech. which is willing and able)


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