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Old 10-31-2010, 10:26 PM   #1
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


I recently purchased a 1950's house that has bare cement walls in the basement which extend all the way to the roof - a very solid home :/
I found this summer that the outside walls in one of the basement rooms was showing spots of moisture (it's been a very wet summer) and in the fall the paint started to peel around those spots. the cement beneath the paint seemed to be producing some kind of flaky crystal-like material.
How do I install a proper vapour barrier that can be finished and painted with a professional look?

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Old 10-31-2010, 11:01 PM   #2
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


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Originally Posted by farmgirl81 View Post
I recently purchased a 1950's house that has bare cement walls in the basement which extend all the way to the roof - a very solid home :/
I found this summer that the outside walls in one of the basement rooms was showing spots of moisture (it's been a very wet summer) and in the fall the paint started to peel around those spots. the cement beneath the paint seemed to be producing some kind of flaky crystal-like material.
How do I install a proper vapour barrier that can be finished and painted with a professional look?
Dear Farmgirl81:
The white flaky crystal stuff is minerals from the cement because of hydrolics. You are experiencing underground water movement from a higher elevation past you home to a lower elevation. Your problem isn't just sweating walls... Your basement all the way around the home does not have proper drainage and the river is trying to go through your house. My sister had this problem to the degree that one basement wall of cinder-blocks caved in... she hd a two story house! Backhoses were brought in and a perimeter was dug around the home to a foot or so below the basement. Jacks were used to lift the house for the cinderblocks to be replaced. A French drain was set with a line to a storm sewer. Two truck load of 1-2 inch gravel was dumpted aound the house to provide a drain buffer for the underground river. Then the top soil was replace around the house so rain water would drain away from the house.

Now back to the original question.. There are wonder types and brands of cinderblock and concrete waterproof product. Go to any paint department of your local home improvement stores and ask for "waterproof" concrete or cinderblock basement paint. Last time I checked it was white or white. You can paint over it, but mixing colorant may modify its great waterproof stuff. Less than optimum lighting makes white a good choice anyway. Nancy Kosling koslinglaw@sbcglobl.net

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Old 11-01-2010, 01:09 AM   #3
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


dear ' Farmgirl81 ' ( & mz nancy, too ): sounds like efflorescence [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efflorescence ]

while the proper repair MAY be exterior excavation such as described by nancy, [ altho not done to our or natl assoc of waterproofing & structural repair contractors' specs ], there's much more that should've been included imo - eg, no waterproof coatings were applied to the walls, no soil/filter fabric is described, no miradrain, not drainage piping,,, possibly even an exterior sump & pump if drainage to daylight's not possible.

expect product described is a dry-lock product sold by apron stores,,, imo, usually wasted time & $$$,,, only ' wonder ' is that people still recommend it & buy it,,, then again, budgets often overcome common sense - even at my house it does have it place but only when prepping a house to sell & hope you don't hear from the new owner's attorney.

xypex has shown itself to be a decent product & is readily available from any const supply house but NOT an apron store,,, the difficult part of this work is recognizing the real or hidden cause as the resultant damage is apparent to all,,, most repair failures are caused by improper prep, selecting incorrect materials, &/or applying it incorrectly,,, not to rain on anyone's parade but a quik review of previous threads would have shown similar threads

know this was ignored but no insulation til you resolve the water vapor OR leaking water issue.

Last edited by stadry; 11-01-2010 at 01:20 AM.
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Old 11-01-2010, 02:52 AM   #4
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


itsreally: sorry to side-step the thread, but drylok is often recommended to keep moisture from wicking from the foundation wall into a slab, or from a slab to a wooded wall on top, etc. Are those not good uses for it, IYO? thanks. j
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Old 11-01-2010, 09:42 AM   #5
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


Drylok is just an over-rated and over-advertised paint-type product that is just a band-aid as far as waterproofing. It is better than nothing, but not much better.

Efflorescence does not mean you have water leaking through a wall or slab. It is an indication that you have some moisture in the concrete, which is no surprise. The moisture slowly can absorb some lime components in the concrete and then as any moisture evaporates the lime is left behind and form crystals. The crystal growth can easily push a paint film off the wall, just as it does on wood above grade because of the forces it can exert.

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Old 11-01-2010, 11:18 AM   #6
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


depends on who is recommending its use - eg, IF its dick, i'm onboard,,, if its an apron store guy in a paint dept, not a chance,,, remember, we waterproof for a living.
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:49 PM   #7
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


OK, so what does one use between a foundation wall and slab, and between the slab and above wooden wall, to prevent wicking? thanks. j
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:01 PM   #8
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


build correctly: 1, excavate properly; 2, waterproof the exterior; 3, provide proper exterior drainage; & 4, forget about it
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:02 PM   #9
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


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Originally Posted by farmgirl81 View Post
in the fall the paint started to peel around those spots. the cement beneath the paint seemed to be producing some kind of flaky crystal-like material.


This is the perfect example of why you don't try to waterproof the wrong side of the foundation. Mother Nature always wins in these situations.



How do I install a proper vapour barrier that can be finished and painted with a professional look?
You dig up the exterior & waterproof the foundation correctly.............
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:18 PM   #10
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


jomama45 has it right. - coatings are never the best method,

Since it was not built correctly when it was cheap to do right, the situation should be corrected either by interior or exterior drain tile, whichever is most reasonable for the present use and limitation imposed on the structure.

In all my years of experience (40), it has always puzzeled me why people would not spend a few cents on initial construction compared for an ideal solution to the dollars to do a half-way (but not perfect) solution a few years later.

Some good builders always automatically install drain tile (interior, exterior or both) on all new foundations.

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Old 11-01-2010, 11:23 PM   #11
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insulating cement basement walls against moisture


good info here-thread title is misleading though

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