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 04-23-2003, 19:55 Post: 53653
chris82715



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 basement floor

I want to install some nice flooring in my basement, but am concerned about the dampness that seeps through the concrete. I saw an article somewhere about building a type of grid with 1x2's covered with subflooring before carpeting, etc.
Does anyone know about this or have other ideas that will work??

CT






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 04-24-2003, 06:13 Post: 53671
TomG

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 basement floor

Your concern is a real issue We covered our basement floor with some artificial turf intended to be used for an indoor practice field. It was slightly used and a bargain. It's designed for outdoor use so moisture doesn't affect it. It does seem to hold moisture though and a few large solid bottomed things setting on top of it haven't faired too well.

I think the sub-flooring idea is good but it is a bit of work and cost. We're going to try painting the floor to see if that will lower the dampness problem enough before doing anything else.






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 04-24-2003, 09:41 Post: 53689
AC5ZO

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 basement floor

I had a problem with this before. I will tell you what I did, but I never did completely solve the problem.

Initially there was carpet on the floor when I moved into the house. It started to bulge and had a crunching sound when you walked over some specific areas. The carpet smelled a bit musty, so I took it out. The crunchy areas were sulfate crystals that had worked through the concrete and built up because they were trapped under the carpet. Those areas of the concrete were moist. The sulfates had also attacked the concrete surface and made it rough and pitted. The sulfates show up as a white deposit and get swept away, but if they are confined they can grow to over a half inch thick. As they grow, they will lift flooring, floor covering, and other coverings.

I chipped out the bad concrete and covered it with a "Concrete Waterproofing" paint. The water and sulfates continued to come and lifted the paint off the floor.

In another area, I wanted to remove a planter that was under a skylight window in the same floor. In that area, I used treated lumber and used a power nailer to spike it to the concrete. I put a layer of plastic in the bottom of the planter and covered it with sand to keep it down and then made another plastic cover just below the lumber. It was sealed to the concrete with caulking compound. The planter was covered with exterior plywood used as flooring.

About the same time as I was doing the planter removal, I also decided that drainage might help. So, I put in a drain pipe to carry away any water that might stand near the house. After a few months the concrete slab was noticably drier. We leveled out the floor with a thin concrete material and then placed carpet over the floor.

I sold the house and moved a few years later. The sulfate crystals did not come back. The flooring over the planter held up. There were still come "crunchy" areas, but that was likely degraded concrete from the previous moisture. The musty smell was gone.

So what did I learn. Address any water issues that might be causing moisture problems before you do anything else. I would also say that if you are going to lay any wood on the concrete that it should be treated for exterior use since moisture will be in contact with it. And finally, I would say that you should use a plastic vapor barrier under any carpet or flooring that you might want to put down. As always, you need to check to see if any specific building codes apply in your area.







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 04-24-2003, 17:36 Post: 53713
Peters

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 basement floor

I looked at this a while ago and did not know where to start.
Ideally the basement should have a good french drain around it and a vapor barrier under the concrete slab.
If the basement is basicly dry you need to be aware that water vapor will be emmitted buy the concrete for years while it cures.
You can seal the concrete with something like water glass (sodium silicate) etc that will slow the water vapor escape.
On this you should be able to lay your underlay and carpet.
You can also lay the modular wood look flooring on this. It uses another thin layer of PE foam which enhances the water barrier. Most are water resistant.
Laying tile is not a problem also unless you have large cracks in the floor. I might use a crack prohibitor also to ensure that the tiles will not crack.
If you want solid wood floors then you can lay stringers but the problem is that the stringers and plywood need to be water proofed. The stringers will need to be nailed and glued to the floor to keep them from squeaking. Trapped water may cause mildew anyways.






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 04-25-2003, 10:46 Post: 53758
AC5ZO

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 basement floor

A french drain is the type of system that I used with perforated drain pipe and a gravel field around the pipe. This was placed on the uphill side of my house and diverted water away from the house on both sides. The low side did not need a drain as the slope would lead water away from the foundation anyway.

I agree with what you describe about installing the basement floor, but most of us get what we get. I bought a used house and was never there during the construction or planning. Codes required a vapor barrier under the slab, but if it had been put in correctly, then I should not have had moisture/sulfate problems in the first place. The problem area was localized in my case to two small sites. I suspect that there was a hole in the barrier at each location. That is hard to fix, and my experience with any paint-on solution was not good.

I am sure that the drainage around the foundation was the problem in my particular case. I had three inches of standing water on the uphill side of the house during a severe rain. It was almost coming over the door thresholds. This was not a problem when the house was constructed, but landscaping routed and held water next to the house and that was a big mistake leading to all of the other problems.

It is possible that my former problem is more severe than the original question posed in this thread. Chris, you should probably have a flooring contractor come by and look at your floor. If you have wetness, you will have to do some work. If it is just humid in the basement, paint-on systems may work fine. If you were planning a DIY project, then perhaps the place supplying the flooring can give you some advice. I am not sure what you were planning, but the modular system mentioned by Peters may be a very good solution for you. The closed cell PE foam used with the flooring systems should do a good job of blocking water vapor. If moisture is common in your area, then the suppliers probably know what works around there. If your neighbors have dry basements, then you may need to concentrate on drainage first.






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 04-26-2003, 03:41 Post: 53788
harvey



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 basement floor

Not one to stir a well stirred pot... Oh well here's my $.02 worth. Out side water problems beat fairly well. BUT the humidy comment is probably the the most prevelant here in the Northeast I suspect other northern states as well.

During the summer the basement areas are cooler because of the ground around them however warm miost air inside the basement hits the walls and you have condensation. (iced drink in the summer sweating). If your mildew goes away in the winter heating season and retuns in the summer you can lay your bet to this problem. 2 story slab houses even have this to a smaller degree. Ask me how I know.

Moving air around with fans is the easiest and cheapest also dehumidifiers will work, if humidity is the problem.

The next dump (because I dump money in it), if I build one, will have piping in the floor and or in the concrete walls so warm water, not hot, can keep concrete above the dew point in side the house.






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 04-26-2003, 07:06 Post: 53791
TomG

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 basement floor

Despite what I said about painting our basement floor, if there is a ground water problem interior surface sealing can make it worse. I recall a story about a house build into a slope that always had a damp basement wall. A surface sealer applied to the wall cured the general dampness but created a continually running stream on the floor. There usually is some water pressure against a foundation wall. If dampness comes through the foundation wall sealing it just increases the pressure and the water likely will find some entry point. Sealing the exterior is far better but of course that doesn't work on floors.

Tiles to light are very good solutions for people that have slopes or sufficient back-grading. We have neither and the house was built long before vapour barrier came into use. Eaves toughing and down-spouts extended well away from the foundation made a big difference (most people around here don't use it due to winter ice). Dehumidifiers also made a big difference. Last summer I chopped down the grade on the drive so more of the yard would drain down the drive and I also improved the back-grading as much as I could. That made a difference although it's mostly a spring runoff thing.






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 04-26-2003, 09:12 Post: 53796
cutter



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 basement floor

My house has a lower lever that is about 3' below grade at the lowest point. I believe the original owner built this type of house due to the wet season water problem and simply never attempted to correct it at the source. Right after I moved in, the rains came and I watched the pond form in my front yard. I heard a motor running somewhere inside the house and with some investigation found a well camouflaged trap door under the enclosed stairway. I discovered a submersible sump pump and crock well hidden from a prospective buyer's view. That next spring I installed an American drain on the uphill side of the house as well as a catch basin at the low point of the yard next to the driveway berm. I also ran the drain to each downspout. I then removed the carpet from the entire lower lever and discovered he had place plastic sheeting under it as a barrier. The floors were spotted with mildew and soaking wet. I scrubbed with bleach, dried well, ran two dehumidifiers non-stop and used Thompson's water seal for concrete to finish the job. Once dried, I installed a top of the line high density foam pad and berber carpet. That was ten years ago, no moisture problems now except the usual ones associated with lower levels during the summer, and the automatic dehumidifier solves that. The crock has been dry as a bone for years now. During heavy rains or spring thaw I take a walk down to the outlet end of my drain and watch in amazement the amount of water that pours out, pulled from the area that adjoins my foundation and wonder how people can invest in building a home and not address the source of a known problem as obvious as water, but rather try and treat the symptoms after the fact.






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 04-26-2003, 09:21 Post: 53799
AC5ZO

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 basement floor

So many problems and solutions. I remember the condensation issue in the basement of the house where I grew up in the Central US. It seemed like the dewpoint sometimes got higher than your skin temperature and it was sometimes miserable. Certainly that humidity would condense on colder basement walls, and we used dehumidifiers to handle that moisture.

I guess that one problem with this topic is that there are so many causes, effects, and cures that are used in different specific areas that it is hard to apply any of them universally. Tom's point about sloping vs flat land highlights that. Except for a couple of years that I spent in northern Illinois, I have always lived on ground with some slope. French drains work fine if you have a slope to route the water away from your structure. I do remember that the crawl space under my Illinois house always had some damp muddy areas. I did not really think about this before, because the topic was about basement walls. But, I know that the solutions on that house would be different than those I would use with houses on sloping ground.

I agree with comments about needing waterproofing on the outside of the walls. I have been very disappointed with the paint on products and I will never use them again, at least on the inside of a concrete wall. There are rubber based products that can be applied to the outsides of walls, but most homeowners will not go to the trouble of digging up the dirt around their houses to apply them to an existing house. I probably would not do that either, unless I had a problem with water running through a crack or porous place in the concrete.

Lots of good discussion...






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 04-26-2003, 09:28 Post: 53800
AC5ZO

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 basement floor

Cutter, we were posting our comments at about the same time and I read yours only after I finished.

I never like to see poor workmanship, but it regularly happens. Think about how much cheaper it would have been if they had just done the work that you did in the beginning.






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