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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We just bought this home and want to take any steps necessary to prevent any damage (any further damage) arising from moisture.

First thing I did was divert some of the downspouts away from the house, they were all pretty much just falling straight to the ground.



Second step was to put a dehumidifier in the basement and turn a fan on to circulate the air a bit.. I'm hoping this is only a temporary thing as the electricity adds up I'm sure.

Here's the basement:










and the crawlspace accessible via a door in the dining room...



sorry to post so many pictures! but i think it's easier just to show you what i'm working with.

the moisture in the wood ranges generally from 5-20%, with the humidity generally in the range of 45-65 in the basement. with so many sister joists and a couple of support poles already, I want to do everything i can to prevent further failure of the foundation.

i've heard varying opinions on ventilation with outside air, and because the humidity seems to be around 70% in central ohio, I'm thinking that it would only worsen the problem.

of course, i'm open to all opinions, and thanks!
 

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Is the floor dirt everywhere? It seems to be. If so, it needs a vapor barrier, sealed to the walls if possible. A dehumidifier is likely a good idea; the downspouts were. Any grading needing done outside?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks jk,

pretty much looks like dirt and rocks down there, crawlspace isn't all that accessible so i can't tell very well. i noticed there is a sheet of plastic over top of the floor, do you think this was used as a vapor barrier?

and before sealing the barrier to the walls, would i need to insulate first?

i started another thread about the grading here:
http://www.diychatroom.com/f2/holes-siding-106836/#post662411

so yes, i do have grading woes :(.

lot's of stuff ahead of me, any suggestion as to the order to tackle things in?
 

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thanks jk,

pretty much looks like dirt and rocks down there...do you think this was used as a vapor barrier? •• Very likely.

and before sealing the barrier to the walls, would i need to insulate first? •• Yes.



...any suggestion as to the order to tackle things in?•• Outside, like you know, then easy, effective things inside (VB on floor, dehumid) then the wall insulation. That may be a good time to call in a competent contractor and talk. Beforehand, read on 2 of my favorite sites; buildingscience.com and greenbuildingadvisor.com. Good luck.
see after the bullets.
 

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You diverted the downspouts so that is good but make sure you keep the gutters and downspouts clean as well. I know, getting up there a few times per year is everybody's fave job. A few of the gutter helmet products are really not total scams and work out well.

In so many old houses I have worked on (and I suspect new construction as well) gutters are favorite ingress/egress routes into the attic for critters like squirrels too so putting them on you maintenance list helps you catch those situations early on.

I don't think you gain anything by adding more exterior ventilation with the Ohio humidity. I also think if you buy a dehumidifier or too rated large enough for the space your electric bill will not be all that different. Dehumidifiers can in fact make a big difference AC bills. Overworking units too small can drive the cost of both electricity and replacement units up. And set them up so they drain themselves so you are not forgetting or skipping the process of emptying them.

You should have a barrier down over all if you have dirt down there for reasons other than just moisture. Radon exposure comes to mind and you might want to purchase and send in an inexpensive test kit?

Unless I skipped something it does not sound like you have a major problem with water getting into the basement and I did not see much evidence of chalking on the walls, external pipe corrosion, etc. Obviously you want a sump system if there is danger of any kind. I tend to install external perimeter drain systems these days. More expensive but water never makes it to the basement unless down the walls from leaking gutters, etc.

Good luck! I did get roped into doing some work on new construction from time to time for real estate folk that fed me business. It saddened me to realize most of what I saw would be on angel wings if still standing at all after 100 years. Treat yours well and deal with what you can restore? It will likely be around for at least another century.
 

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Just a post thought on dehumidifiers. Most for consumers are really poorly manufactured. I was a PMT for a major, once institutional, American retailier I admire so will not name. I made decisions about sending things returned back for refurbish at the rate of at least 60-70 percent when it came to dehumidifiers. Made no difference the size, price point or brand name on the case.

I don't think I ever processed a remanufactured unit for disposal or repair.

Here is the really good news, you can pick up factory reconditioned or officially refurbished units, essentially brand new, at just about all major retailers at a fraction of the cost of new ones. Liquidators like Big Lots sometimes gets some great refurb units this time of year. Try Sears/KMart and such stores too. You will have to walk around the back of the appliance section looking for the markdown tags, with full disclosure of the out of the box status of the product, we PMTs got to stick on things.

Difference I guess is that someone other than an overworked Chinese four year old checks all the connections and fittings in the refurbishing process.

You might also just call an HVAC person out to talk about dehumidifying the basement with something other than retail plug in units too?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the info guys. I too hope that the house is good for another 100 years!

So far on my to do list:

Regrading perimeter of the house (and replacing any necessary exposed wood),
Replacement/repair of gutters and implementation of underground drainage to street.
Adding insulation around walls of crawlspace + add vapor barrier sealed to walls.
Purchase a "pro" dehumidifier (paid 10 dollars for mine at salvation army but it works for now!)
Test for radon (kit in the mail)

should i remove the plastic sheet from the crawlspace that's already there or just place the VB on top of that?
I'll be talking to an hvac guy in a little while to get an idea on dehumidifying options.

Does that sound about right? if so I'll be sure to post some updates (i know how much everyone loves wet basements)
 

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Sounds like a starting plan to me.

But, underground drainage of roof runoff to the street overloads sewer systems. You sure you are going to be able to pull this part of the plan off where you are? With permit? Variance? Just be a tad careful on this part of your plan OK?

Hate to see you trench, bury and have to instantly disconnect.

And, of course, you remember before you start digging or trenching for anything, with anything longer than a hand trowel or bulb planter? You call your free local utility locating service right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the warnings. I'm definitely no expert but I do know to call before you dig!
As far as overloading the sewer system I may have to contact a professional and have them give me their take on things as I have absolutely no clue on the subject. What exactly do you mean by variance? a little water here, a little there?
 

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Thanks for the warnings. I'm definitely no expert but I do know to call before you dig!
As far as overloading the sewer system I may have to contact a professional and have them give me their take on things as I have absolutely no clue on the subject. What exactly do you mean by variance? a little water here, a little there?
It is most certainly illegal here in Chicago, and was in Central Illinois, to drain gutters and downspouts to the curb directly via buried drain lines. It was common practice but the sewer system just could not handle so much rain, from so many houses, pouring down rooftops, swelling gutters and rushing out downspouts and then with no land to stop it before it reached the streets.

People in very expensive mansions North of me had to disconnect such systems and drain across their landscapes? Imagine Buffy, Muffy and Biff tripping over the kind of corrugated pipe coming off your downspouts.

"Mommy! I think I got mud on my shoes!"

Some of course got code variances because of the unsightly look but with taxpayers forking out billions on a deep tunnel sewer line, even the richest and most connected had to regrade and make some changes.

Anyhow, I don't know where you live but I don't think you should necessarily plan on draining your roof to the curb for the city or county sewer and drainage system to handle. I don't think they will let you. And if I am wrong, and I have been, I guarantee you that they will not let you run direct drain lines to the curb without a permit. Trust me on this. And there will be a kinky clause in all that says they can ask you to disconnect at any time. At which point, you will be right back to the point your are now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
oh silly Biff.

I'm definitely going to double check this and get back to you. Measure twice and cut once eh? I guess the only other option left, if i'm not able to divert to the street, would be a french drain, which was what I was actually considering doing before. I guess we'll see.
 

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On gutters, I have cleaned my dad's 11,056 times, and hate them. When I built, I dug a ditch, lined it with 10 mil black visqueen, and filled it w/ rocks on the long side of the house. (On one short end, I had to use gutters; had 12" trees growing in them once, which tipped me off to their needing cleaning.) Ditches are virtually maintenance free, and between the house and the ditch it is bone dry. System has been there 30 yrs, and once, or maybe twice, I've taken the rocks out and cleaned it; hard to fall off a ladder that way. Too, we built our trusses and have a 3' overhang. If possible, I'd use a ditch over freaking gutters any day.
 

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I would go with french drains myself. More ecological as you are putting water where it belongs, back in the ground water. Consider also a "rain garden" which is similar to jk's trench. It's essentially a large area filled with rocks and suitable plantings. It is usually located at the bottom of a slope and is for the purpose of controlling erosion and runoff, but you can certainly use it as a massive french drain as well.

http://www.raingardennetwork.com/about.htm
 
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