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Old 02-08-2014, 07:29 PM   #1
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


Would improperly installed vapor barrier cause condensation at floor level and therefor cause the bottom 3 to 4 inches of drywall to because brittle/crumbly, and cause the floor to be cold due to drafts?

Backstory:

I bought a 1966 house that needs/needed some TLC. Ive installed new mdf baseboards in most of the house after the walls got a fresh coat of paint. One room to go and Im getting ready to install baseboards and notice the very corner of drywall is crumbling, further inspection reveals minor dampness in the corner (and now a 6x8 hold where I had to cut the drywall away). The bottom of the drywall seems soft but not really damp most of the way along the wall. I also notice that the vapor barrier isn't stapled to the bottom plate (at least in the corner but I suspect the whole length of the wall). If this is the case then I may have to remove the first bit (6-8 inches) of drywall along the wall and staple/(caulk?) the barrier to seal it. Theres no sign of mold, and from what I can tell the insulation behind the vapor barrier is in good condition, but I can only see a very small section right now).

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Old 02-08-2014, 07:33 PM   #2
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


Got any pictures?
Happen to be below a window or beside the door?
Got ice dams on the roof?

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Old 02-08-2014, 07:51 PM   #3
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


Theres no ice dams on the roof and there is a window about 5ft away on one side (the side with the duct tape), but no window on the other side but the drywall is still soft along the bottom.
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Old 02-08-2014, 08:22 PM   #4
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


Is this above grade, basement, or where?

Have you had carpet in this area? Sometimes the outside edge of the carpet (against an exterior wall) will be dirty. This is due to a leaky sill plate, and air constantly blowing in and out.
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Old 02-08-2014, 08:54 PM   #5
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


Its above grade and the laminate was installed before I moved in (I took possession last July). Both walls are exterior walls.
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:42 AM   #6
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


I would think that if you had serious moisture issues in there you'd see it on the wood, doesn't look too bad. Fiberglass looks stuffed, minimal, maybe you had condensation on the backside of the drywall itself due to poor insulation?
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Old 02-09-2014, 06:40 AM   #7
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


Please post a picture of the outside in that area.
Another guess that may have caused it is the outside sheathing and or siding was not installed below the sill plate so cold airs leaking in and when it hits the back side of the warmed plastic it's condensing.
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Old 02-09-2014, 07:57 AM   #8
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


If you are truly getting condensation forming in that area, and it is possible, it will be from a cold spot forming in the wall due to improper insulation. A poor insulation job such as a small gap, thin insulation, or too tightly compacted will cause a cold spot. Warm moist air from inside the house will condensate on the cold surface and over time will weaken and deteriorate the drywall.

The vapor barrier between the drywall and insulation, if properly installed, will prevent the moisture from saturating the insulation. However, it will not stop the formation of condensation if there is a gap between the insulation and vapor barrier. The insulation, if properly installed, should be tight against the vapor barrier to prevent any cold spots from forming.

Duct tape also should not be used in this application as over time it will dry out. There are specific products to use to seal vapor barriers in case of gaps or cuts.
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:30 AM   #9
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


There was a small bit of frost on the outside of the vapor barrier this morning. By the age of the house I could easily see that the insulation would be sub standard.

Heres the outside. Theres a few small cracks in the stucco but nothing major. If it warms up (its currently -24C/-11F) I could try to run a small bead of silicone between the stucco and concrete.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:29 PM   #10
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


I think my plan of attack is going to be:

-Buy some sheathing tape, some poly, and possibly a tube of acoutic sealant to fix the small holes and seal the corner.

-Patch the hole in the drywall

-Wait a few days and see if the drywall gets soft

-Run some foam weatherstripping/backer rod in the gap between the laminate and the drywall along the walls.
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Old 02-09-2014, 02:04 PM   #11
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


Does this drywall run all the way to the floor? It looks like it on the left. If it does this could just be water from mopping the floor. That is why we always cut the drywall 1/2" up from the floor. Drywall is very pours and will wick water like crazy.
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Old 02-09-2014, 02:46 PM   #12
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


It does run all the way to the floor but we haven't mopped that area anytime recently.
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:16 PM   #13
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


What about previous owners? Once drywall gets wet and crumbly it rarely goes back to its original condition. The reason I bring this up is I really don't see any thing wrong with the insulation or barrier.
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Old 02-10-2014, 10:52 PM   #14
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


Is the floor concrete? For drywall to "get soft" will take more than a few days. IF wood frame floor, is the floor insulated? Vapor barrier on the dirt? Ventilated crawl-space? Is the wall VB taped to floor in picture? Was there a couch in front of wall there to restrict air circulation? The drywall nails are pretty rusted.... did you check various locations with a moisture meter ($25)?

Gary
PS. don't caulk/seal the stucco/parging joint or it won't drain if weeps were used...welcome to the forums!
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Old 02-12-2014, 09:17 AM   #15
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Damp drywall due to improper vapor barrier install?


I currently live in a home built in 1970.

I got into a wall while renovating the bathroom and was expecting to find R-11 insulation. To my surprise, I found R-7.5, which I didn't know had ever been offered.

When it is cold, I will get some frosty spots in corners and beside the exterior door.

I attribute this to the thin insulation, and it is quite possibly installed poorly, plus I like to keep the humidity high even when it is too cold outside.

You might want to see what you have there for insulation.

My solution is to one day re-insulate.

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