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 08-25-2002, 08:37 Post: 41611
Glenn Fitzgerald



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 Basement Block

I'm having a cabin built on top of a footer and block wall. I have a friend that sprays block walls(with tar) as a part time job. He proceded to ask a lot of questions one being-did they skim coat the block to be back filled by ground with mortar? Of which they did not. He said that the block was always skim coated prior to spraying and he gratefully declined the job. What is the reason for the masons skim coating the block and is it suggested? Do I go back to the masons and ask them to do it? Is there something better than tar to apply if they don't skim coat? I thought of "dry lock" block waterproofing but it's pretty expensive. Am I over-reacting or is this a valid concern? I want it to be right.






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 08-25-2002, 09:35 Post: 41615
JJT



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 Basement Block

How high is the water table around your cabin?

Do you have footer drains plumbed to daylight?

If you have high water the skim coat is a little more insurance against water seeping through your bloack wall. If your area is dry and you have decent footer drains, seal the block yourself with 2 coats of foundation sealer.

If you have water problems, skim coat the block, apply 2 coats of sealer on the exterior, make sure you have decent footer drains and apply dry lock on the interior.






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 08-26-2002, 06:29 Post: 41641
TomG

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No expertise here but I think that vapour barrier or similar specialty product is used on foundation walls in new construction. I'm not sure but I think tar is sometimes allied, then foam insulation and barrier over everything. However, I don't think barrier can be retrofitted. I think that it goes under the footings. Foam insulation saves on the heating. It also means that a basement can be kept cooler without the foundation freezing. The foam also creates a cushion against front heave.

I'd have to assume the contractor knows conditions in the area and used a durable design, but there are things to think about. It gets cold around here and block foundations are damaged from frost heave in buildings that aren't heated during the winter. Good drainage is important in minimizing frost heave. A bad year is a lot of rain that saturates the soil followed by a hard freeze.

The trouble with tiles is that in the country there's no city drainage system. When you need the drainage, the soil everywhere is saturated and there's no place to drain it to. Some people do have sumps and pump drainage to run off on the surface.

If there's a water problem, sealing foundation walls can have interesting results. There is ground water pressure against the wall that is partially relieved by seepage through the blocks. Seal it and the pressure increases. However the water is very likely to find an entry point. Sealing can turn a damp basement into one with a small stream along one wall. An adequate drainage design is important.






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 08-26-2002, 07:56 Post: 41646
Peters

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 Basement Block

Basement block is porous. You definately need a good french drain and make sure the drain will not plug with silt.
I placed flush side pipes on my drain so that I can flush the french drain. I also place the drain cloth over the pipe in the drain rock.
A block wall is only strong in the vertical direction. Hydraulic (water pressure) can crack the wall, if high, even if you seal it.
The skim coat seals the wall and provides a little strength in the horizontal direction.
The other option is to place a layer of foam over the block and then seal the top of the foam. There are two options here sheet foam or the urethane spray foam. The application of the spray foam has a urethane water proofing top coat.
I don't know about the Dow Styro foam systems I believe they seal the wall under neath and the apply then bond the foam on the top for increased water resistance.






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 08-26-2002, 13:32 Post: 41658
Murf

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Wecommonly use a product here called "Mira-Drain" but there are several similar products out there. Basically it is a sheet of plastic formed in such a way as to be covered with little flat-top bumps about 3/4" high across which a sheet of Geo-textile fabric (allows water to pass but not sediment) is fastened. It is installed against the bare wall, plastic side to the wall, starting at or just above the ground level and terminating into the footing drain. The result is a continous vertical drain system around the entire perimeter of the foundation, any water running into the wall hits the product and takes the path of least resistance, straight down into the drain and away from the building. Since it is independant of the wall itself any cracks that develop in the wall itself will not compomise the integrity of the system, in such case damp-proofing spray would no longer be water tight. Best of luck.






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 08-27-2002, 05:23 Post: 41678
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Thanks Murf. I knew I've seen the product sometimes when passing by new construction. I just didn't know how it's applied. From what you say, insulation boards would be applied outside the barrier.

I guess that if the barrier terminates into the weeping tiles then retro-fitting is possible but probably too bid a job except for very serious water problems. The old-time solution is just let the water come into the basement, channel it into a sump and pump it downhill.

We have a high water table at our camp. A 5' hole dug in August gets water in the bottom after about 20 minutes. In such a situation, I think that a leeching pit may not provide adequate drainage. If there's a water problem and the basement isn't a finished area, installing vapour barrier beneath the dirt or other flooring is a pretty good idea. We demolished the house formerly at our came because it rotted from the bottom due to constant high humidity in the cellar.






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 08-27-2002, 14:47 Post: 41697
Murf

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Actually no Tom, the insulation goes BETWEEN the water protection and the wall, otherwise it would create a barrier, hindering the water from getting to the drainage.

In a case such as you describe were the water-table is high the only solution to the problem is to raise the building above the water level. In the case of my own home the water table is barely 5' below existing grade, so I raised the footings to 1' above that, luckily the whole place is an Alluvial sand deposit (created by a lake, "Algonquin", formed during the melting of the glaciers that covered Canada long ago) and has fanatastic load-bearing qaulities, VERY stable stuff. It took a lot of sand fill to raise the area around the house, resulting in a pretty nice pond I might add.

They have a new product out for such situations, but where you don't want to move a mountain of fill. It is basically a large upside-down funnel, sized to accomodate various sizes of Sono-tubes, thus increasing the load-bearing footprint of such to 3 times it's original size. Most home centers, building or lumber yards can at least order them, even if they don't stock them. Of course the best is still the butts of old creosoted utility poles or (new) surplus railway ties, talk about staying power....

Best of luck.






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 08-28-2002, 07:27 Post: 41720
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Thanks Murf! Insulation inside the barrier was my first impression. Frequently my impressions are more accurate than when I think about it. Could save myself a bunch of time if I'd just take the lesson.

We're in the highlands and have much the same deposits as you, but between outcroppings of bedrock. Most buildings are built on the deposits. Funny thing is that full time occupancy permits can't be issued for structures built on piers--that's what many people use for cottages. Old time cabins were built on logs that were just laid on the ground--you can't do that anymore either. Anyway, those are techniques that work around here. For a house, you pretty much have to put it on footings. Then you pretty much have to heat it during the winter or the foundations crack.

I don't think slab on grade is allowed either (don't know why because a variation of it is called an Alaska slab or something like that). That should work too, and probably so would post and skirt foundations. The house at out camp wasn’t on footings. It was on a few courses of blocks that raised it enough so the cellar floor could be above water table (at least most of the time). The blocks under the house were setting OK after 40-years or so and a few winters unheated. The blocks in the cellar were getting precarious though. Basically the foundations worked. It was rot rather than the blocks that finished off the house. Seems like under the codes we can't use the things that work, and the ones that are allowed need a furnace. I just don't get it but that's nothing new.






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 08-28-2002, 08:26 Post: 41724
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Tom, my Northern neighbour, step away from the forest, you're losing sight of the trees...or have you been doing Quality Control work again, Laughing out loud.

Of course we can't use an Alaska slab, we're not in Alaska, we're down South here, where frost is a seasonal problem, not a PERMANENT fixture. The freeze thaw cycle would wreck anything bridging slab to ground, ie. electrical, water, and septic connections, not a good situation for a permanent residence. As for permanent residences on piers, the same problem occurs, how do you get freeze sensitive pipes and such from the ground up to the house and back?

A resort operator at a golf course/resort I did some work on a couple of years back had a unique concept for re-programming the learned behaviour of problem bears. He had a CO2 paint-ball competiton gun, the kind that fires gelled 'paint' (actually a vegetable dyed gelatin mixture) capsules, using syringes he carefully topped the capsules up with a blend of Cayenne Pepper and Capsasian (?, the active ingredient in the Pepper spray the police use). When fired towards the bears they thought they were getting a handout, however it seems the bears din't find his projectile hors-d'oeuvres very appetizing at all, in fact he claimed to have a very low rate of repeat diners.

Best of luck.







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 08-28-2002, 10:46 Post: 41727
DRankin



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The problem with capsasain and bears is that if the dose is not strong enough it will actually attract bears. They like the smell. So only a strong dose in a mucous membrane will do the trick then you had better pitch out the used dispenser.
Of course it is going to get on you too, so while it may disable and deter the bear, it may do the same to you.
I must be especially sensitive to the stuff. It always worked better on me than it did on the violent drunks and dopers I was dealing with. I quit carrying it and went back to the old fashioned way of getting peoples attention. My co-workers knew that if they used that stuff around me they were on their own.
There is a story up North about the floatplane operator who dropped off a big city guy for a wilderness fishing experience on a remote lake. He warned the guy ahead of time that the bugs and the bears were pretty thick at that time of the year. His passenger assured him he was totally prepared with bug spray and (because he was highly cultured and did not “believe” in guns and violence) he brought along extra bear spray.
When the pilot circled back over the lake after dropping him off, he saw the guy laying on the lakeshore doing the chicken. So he radioed Anchorage to report a medical emergency and landed again to render what assistance he could.
Turned out the guy gave himself a dose of bug spray and did ok with that, but when he applied the bear repellant in the same manner it apparently had some sort of deleterious effect (!!?!)
I reckon it doesn’t pay to get too cultured.






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