Frost problem in stone cottage

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Old 01-19-14, 03:35 PM
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Frost problem in stone cottage

I bought a 110 year old stone cottage in the mountains. It's built on a slab that was poured on solid bedrock. However in the winter ice forms on the floor. I thought it was coming in through the fireplace or roof, so I put a chimney cap up and painted the interior with drylok. Do you think the water is seeping up through the foundation, or is it coming from frost on the walls that melts and pools on the floor? I really would like to put in flooring this spring but obv that would be pointless if the floor will double as an ice rink from dec-mar.
 
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Old 01-19-14, 04:03 PM
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Do some condensation investigation. If the floor is cold then the air inside the cottage may be humid enough that when cooled it condenses. You mentioned frost on the walls, so obviously there is moisture in the air.

Does this cottage remain unheated for any periods of time or is it well heated?

Bud
 
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Old 01-21-14, 01:41 PM
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I have a thermometer inside and the relative humidity was 99%. It is unheated 99% of the time, and the temperature from dec-mar is mostly under 30F. If the water is seeping through the floor, would drylok effectively seal it off?
 
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Old 01-21-14, 02:29 PM
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The 99% RH sound strange, but if it is high and the floor is cold, that is the source of your moisture. High mass surfaces take quite awhile to warm up.

Leaving it totally unheated with the slab directly on bedrock would mean you will need to warm the mountain to get the floor warm. Cold winter air is usually very dry, but that is after it is warmed up. With no heat it is hard to predict what dew point will be.

I assume no electricity so no dehumidifier can be run. Even though you might be able to ventilate it in the winter to dry it out, that same ventilation will bring in humid summer air which will deposit condensation on those still cold surfaces. Think anout the glass of ice tea on a warm summer day, it drips condensation.

I don't see a solution, maybe others will.

Bud
 
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Old 01-22-14, 03:43 PM
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Thanks Bud. Here's my plan. Any suggestions warnings would be appreciated.

1) I'm going to build a retaining wall with drainage at the back side of the house, since the cabin is 1-2 feet is lower than the top of the hill and rain water runs downhill. i dug out the foundation last fall (100 years of dirt had built up against the house), but I dont think that was enough.

2) I'll use hydraulic cement to seal the floor cracks and cover with drylok. I'm looking at DRIcore or something similar to at the very least, keep wood off the ground.

3) The cabin has solar panels, so I'll run a dehumidifier with a drain hose on a timer. I just have to figure out the power draw of the dehumid.

I'm hoping these three should do it... I saw that you can dig a trench in the slab and put in a drain pipe (which in my case could go outside instead of a sump, since the house is on grade). I'm hoping I dont have to do something that extreme...

one thing that i havent mentioned which is probably relevant... the roof is a poured-concrete gable roof, so the whole thing is like an cement icebox.
 
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Old 01-22-14, 04:38 PM
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Leaving it totally unheated with the slab directly on bedrock would mean you will need to warm the mountain to get the floor warm.
LOL, my thoughts exactly! When you turn the heat up, the cold cement floor is acting like a giant dehumidifier, and any humidity in the rooms will condense on the coldest surface.

a cement icebox.
That's an accurate description, if it's unheated 99% of the time. Put a cold can of soda into a warm humid environment and it's going to sweat. If that can of soda could somehow be below 32F, like your cold floor could possibly be, then that same condensation would freeze to form ice. You can't expect to not have this happen when you suddenly crank the heat up to 70F when all else is cold.
 
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