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Old 11-17-2007, 10:34 AM   #1
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Moisture in Concrete


18 months ago we decided to completely renovate the bottom floor of our home. Pulled out carpets and all Vinyl flooring and replaced it with Ceramic tile and laminate flooring.

After 16 months the laminate floor in the living room and dining room cupped. The first inspector pronounced the laminate as being 25-29% saturated with moisture. So we pulled the laminate up and did the calcium Chloride test and got a 5.32lb per 1000 foot measurement. The second inspector came and this time we tried to measure the concrete moisture. It pegged the meter at over 6%. From all of this I have a few questions.

1. Since the area of question does not have any water lines in it, then we are assuming that whatever moisture is present is coming from under the slab. Would a weeping tile system help with this?

2. I watched the meter peg and since the second inspector does not work for any other company I believe his readings. Why would the held held moisture meter and the Calcium Chloride test be that much different?

3. I have been reading through the posts and doing some studies to try to understand what my options are and it seems that a way does not exist to seal the concrete from the top or to isolate the moisture from whatever flooring we put down and yet we had carpet in a good part of this are for over 20 years without problems. If we had this kind of moisture releasing through the concrete all the time would we not have rotted carpet and moldy padding?

Whatever advice anyone could give would be appreciated. I would gladly put in some kind of weeping system if someone could give me any assurance that it would help, but after spending some $12000 on an upgrade and now I have a good deal of scrap lumber to burn I am slightly skeptical of local contractors.

Thanks in Advance

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Old 11-18-2007, 01:46 AM   #2
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Moisture in Concrete


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Originally Posted by LBlack View Post
18 months ago we decided to completely renovate the bottom floor of our home. Pulled out carpets and all Vinyl flooring and replaced it with Ceramic tile and laminate flooring.

After 16 months the laminate floor in the living room and dining room cupped. The first inspector pronounced the laminate as being 25-29% saturated with moisture. So we pulled the laminate up and did the calcium Chloride test and got a 5.32lb per 1000 foot measurement. The second inspector came and this time we tried to measure the concrete moisture. It pegged the meter at over 6%. From all of this I have a few questions.

1. Since the area of question does not have any water lines in it, then we are assuming that whatever moisture is present is coming from under the slab. Would a weeping tile system help with this?

2. I watched the meter peg and since the second inspector does not work for any other company I believe his readings. Why would the held held moisture meter and the Calcium Chloride test be that much different?

3. I have been reading through the posts and doing some studies to try to understand what my options are and it seems that a way does not exist to seal the concrete from the top or to isolate the moisture from whatever flooring we put down and yet we had carpet in a good part of this are for over 20 years without problems. If we had this kind of moisture releasing through the concrete all the time would we not have rotted carpet and moldy padding?

Whatever advice anyone could give would be appreciated. I would gladly put in some kind of weeping system if someone could give me any assurance that it would help, but after spending some $12000 on an upgrade and now I have a good deal of scrap lumber to burn I am slightly skeptical of local contractors.

Thanks in Advance
Did you put a moisture barrier between the slab and the laminate? It's generally required.

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Old 11-18-2007, 03:38 AM   #3
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Moisture in Concrete


The general rule of thumb regarding the characteristics of concrete is this, during the first 50 years concrete will become incrementally stronger.
During the next 50+ years, concrete will gradually become porous/weaker until it ultimately disintigrates.

Technically, the ratio of lime, ash, portland cement and size/quantity of gravel, water, additives and trowling method have a bearing upon the longevity, as will the location and exposure to the elements.

It sounds like you may have developed hydrostatic pressure over the years.
This could be from run-off water that may have gathered from something as simple as: window wells; overflowing/clogged gutters; poor drainage sloping away from the foundation; lack of down spout length to carry heavy rains far enough away or even the demise of an old tree near the house, with rotting or invasive roots leading a path for water to travel along side and or tunnel underneath the house. This water will ultimately have enough pressure after a substantial rainfall, to force its way up through the basement slab.

You can test for moisture yourself, by tapping down a 12" =/- sheet of clear plastic, with duct tape around the edges, in the suspected areas of the floor. Leave it there until after a considerable rainfall. Check the sheet for moisture/condensation. Meanwhile check around the foundation walls for cracks if the walls are exposed. If not exposed, look closely at the baseboards for signs of mold and or decay. You may need a water diversion system. One final step of prevention, would be to add enough dirt,sloped away, around the perimeter of your home to ensure that you have adequate drainage.
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Old 11-18-2007, 03:27 PM   #4
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Moisture in Concrete


Thanks for the advice. After reading through everything I probably should have added a few notes.
We did have a vapor barrier down on the concrete, Alloc 3:1 Fastfold. This product came highly recommended from several companies.

The concrete is a slab on grade. The footings were poured down 30 inches below grade but this being Oklahoma, the general rule here is to backfil with dirt and sand after the plumbing ground work is done and pour the slab directly on dirt. It sets on the side of hill in pastureland. The only trees are ones we planted. The house has been here since 1981.

We do not have guttering so when it rains very hard it comes down in sheets.

Again thanks to everyone that responded. Please if you have any more ideas let us know. The thought of ripping the slab up just to see what is under it is NOT at the top of my want to list.
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Old 11-18-2007, 03:58 PM   #5
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Moisture in Concrete


There is no question that you have a wet concrete slab.

You have a concrete slab poured on grade (or "dirt"). Concrete can absorb moisture and so can "dirt". Dpending on the "dirt" you could draw up significant moisture from the soil. Apparently, the materials you used did not prevent the moisture from getting to the laminate.

Since you do not have guttering, you are dumping a large amount of moisture into the area around and under your home. When your home was built a hole (like a swimming pool) was dug in the natural soil and footing were put in. The backfill was uncontrolled ("dirt"?) and never can be as dense as the natural soil, so water can collect and be absorbed upward.

Not controlling roof run-off is a very bad practice, whether you have expansive clays, muck or just plain bad soil. Since you have a sidehill, it should be no problem to get rid of the water that collects around and under your slab. - Even the morning dew from the roof drops down and is collected under your home unless you have downspout extensions.

Drain tile could be required, but extensions are cheaper and divert the moisture away form the area under your slab.

Many carpets are synthetic as are the pads, which will absorb less moisture than laminate.

In hindsight, putting a vapor barrier would have been a good local "general rule", but we cannot do anything about that now. A different flooring material or reduction of the water under the slab would be the present choices.
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Old 11-18-2007, 07:38 PM   #6
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Moisture in Concrete


Have you concluded that the moisture is only present in the bathroom, or is it showing up in other areas? If only in the bathroom, I would suspect 1 of 2 possibilities: You may have a broken trap or leak under the slab, or when the slab was poured, there may be a "thin" area, with the resulting moisture. Gutters would not be a bad idea, but 30 inch deep footings should preclude that problem. Another thing...we just had the wettest year on record in Oklahoma....did this problem just show up? Last summer, I know a lot of people who had water in their in floor HVAC vents for the first time. What was it like a few years ago?
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Old 11-21-2007, 04:51 PM   #7
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Moisture in Concrete


Thanks again for all the ideas. We did more moisture readings in various areas and this problem gets more strange by the minute. The concrete moisture content in the attached garage is actually at or below the level required for laminate floors but the level in the house is 5 times worse.

Next week we have a plumber scheduled to bring his video gear and check out the drain lines to make certain they are not broken anywhere under the slab.

The water in feeds have already been checked with a high speed leak detector installed in the residential meter. Of course this was fine.
Today of course the temperature dropped some 50 Degrees so everything in the house will be dry to the central heat.

Keep the thoughts and ideas coming. We are slowly but surely working down the list of ideas and suggestions. Do to allergies, we simply can not put carpet back in the house. With this much moisture in the concrete we are somewhat concerned about thinset letting go, however we have areas that are tiled now with no problems at all.. If I were not living in the middle of it I would swear someone was making all this up. So far it has ONLY been the laminate that has had trouble...

thanks again
Leon
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Old 11-21-2007, 07:34 PM   #8
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Moisture in Concrete


Ok fellow Okie. Here is what I would do, as soon as you eliminate any possibility of leaks under the house (which I have a suspicion you will find). You can use bleach, half and half, with water, on a day you can air out the house til it dries. This will kill any hint of mold. Then, go to the Stamp Store in OKC, and get enough concrete sealer to cover the areas, and apply 2 or 3 coats...then laminate or tile. Or get it interesting by acid staining, and then sealing the floor. You may be surprised.

My money is you have a leak under the house slab.
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Old 10-31-2008, 11:55 AM   #9
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Moisture in Concrete


Generally, concrete floor is full of moisture and it gets very cold as a result of that. We have noticed that in our basement. No matter how hot or cold outside, our concrete floor always feels cold like 20 to 30 degree. So, what will happen is this. Over time, the concrete floor will release moisture and the temperature directly to the basement ceiling. If you really have a very bad moisture problem, then moisture from the concrete will speed up the process. What I did was, lay very cheap rugs and carpets all over my basement floor. and put a vapor barrier on the basement ceiling too. It has been great since then. It even helps to keep the cold chill from entering our living space. Your problem is that you have moisture problem in your basement. Moisture can enter even in a tiny pinhole and if you have enough of them in your basement, they can enter through tiny pinholes over time and create such a problem. If I were you, I would first look for any cracks and holes in the basement and clog them with cloth or insulation. Just keep looking at the basement. That is your best bet.
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Old 10-31-2008, 07:24 PM   #10
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Moisture in Concrete


This post is nearly a year old, and it was a slab, which is typical in this state.

In your case, a concrete sealer would work as well as what you are doing, which would seem to be a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.

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