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Old 01-31-2010, 06:39 AM   #1
 
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wet/iced walls


Our home was built in summer of 2006. We have a ranch with a walkout. The house faces the east and the middle section of the basement is finished. This year we attempted to finish the north west section of the basement only to discover that the sheathing behind the R19 on the west wall was wet and in some areas ice had formed. We found the same condition on the west wall in the south west section of the basement. The west wall is a studded wall above grade. To date we have removed all the R19, dried out the wall and the R19, glued foam board on top of the block walls, replaced the R19 and the same condition has repeated. Had two dehumidifiers going, one in each area, one stopped working and we turned off the other. When they ran, it did not stop the production of the condensation. The finished area has supplemental electric baseboard heat and the air is dry. There is a door which closes off the finished area from the rest of the basement. Does anyone have any ideas to why this is happening?
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Old 01-31-2010, 07:44 AM   #2
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Yeah, the simple answer is that you have too much moisture in the air down there in relation to the temperature and in relation to how cold it is outside. If any wall becomes wet or iced-up, it is because the surface on which the moisture condenses is too cold compared to the level of moisture in the air. That's why we have vapour barriers and vapour retarders...

The solution is to prevent the humid warm inside air from hitting the cold surfaces by decreasing the level of humidity down there and by heating up the wall. You do that by placing a vapour retarder on the warm side and/or by running dehumidifers and/or changing your habits concerning water vapour production and/or increasing the overall ventilation.

What is the relative humidity and temperature down there and in the rest of the house and what is the construction of the walls?
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Old 01-31-2010, 07:50 AM   #3
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Concrete is a very pourous product and since your basement is warm and the concrete stays a more constant temperature due to it being in contact with the soil you are getting varying temperatures hitting. To be sure this doesnt happen l would suggest that you install ridgid insulation on the block/foundation wall and "tuck" tape the joints. Then build your wall, install your batts, vapor barrier, then your drywall of course. Be sure to tuck tape ALL your joints in your vapor barrier as well. Its a common mistake for people not to do this.

Also, as for running household dehumidifiers to dry out and area after it being wet, they (typically) never will get the job done properly. Let me explain my background before someone mistakes my information here. I have worked for a fire, flood, mold remediation contractor for a while in my life and and every time I ran into a home owner who tried to do this is rarely worked. I am not saying it does not help but it rarely get is dry fast enough as mold can set in within 24 hours afters something gets wet. Typically you want fans moving the air around the a large commercial dehu to pick up the moisture. I also suggest you get a mildecide product from HD or somewhere else and spray down the studs t be sure any mold that might be growing gets killed.

Anywho just to reiterate thermal break seems to be your issue here and either rigid with taped joints or spray foam insulation (closed cellular) sprayed on the foundation wall should fix that.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:00 AM   #4
 
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Hi-thank you for your response. I guess the R19 between the studs is not enough? We addressed the ventilation this past summer...house is well ventilated. The humidity in the rest of the house is fine....can't give you a number, but no condensation on the windows. The humidity downstairs is probably 50 or better...I turned off the dehumidifier, however, even when it was on the the humidity was 40-45 the sheathing was wet. Do you think once it is dried out, the R19 put back and drywall installed along with electric baseboard heat, the problem will resolve itself? Thanks for your feedback.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:04 AM   #5
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Old school way of thinking is that vapor barrier is enough to stop moisture transfer. The real problem here is the when the foundation gets really cold and the space between the foundation wall and your wall is say 50 degrees you are going to get condensation. Thermal break is a huge deal now adays and people are starting to understand that now. So if you just reinstall the insulation, vapor barrier, and drywall it will get wet again most likely.

Is your rim joist fully insulated around the perimeter? Be sure that is done and spray foam is a great option because it stops heat loss and moisture.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:15 AM   #6
 
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Our next step is to spray foam above the block on the north and south walls. Should we also spray foam above the studs on the west wall which is studded, is above grade and the wall that is getting wet and iced? What do you think? Thanks for your reply
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:21 AM   #7
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Spray-foaming has two objectives: reducing heat transfer and reducing air infiltration at the rim joist. Doesn't matter which orientation these walls have - they all suffer from the two problems I just mentioned.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:22 AM   #8
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In my honest opinion if it were my house I would spray foam the rim joist all the way around the house about 1' in if you could They sell kits now that you can spray foam stuff yourself instead of paying a spray foam contractor to come in. The rim joist is a typical area where heat is lost.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:22 AM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccarlisle View Post
Spray-foaming has two objectives: reducing heat transfer and reducing air infiltration at the rim joist. Doesn't matter which orientation these walls have - they all suffer from the two problems I just mentioned.
OK Thanks!
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:23 AM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wnabcptrNH View Post
In my honest opinion if it were my house I would spray foam the rim joist all the way around the house about 1' in if you could They sell kits now that you can spray foam stuff yourself instead of paying a spray foam contractor to come in. The rim joist is a typical area where heat is lost.
OK Thanks!
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