Fixing a Leaking Cellar and Crawlspace


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Old 06-03-14, 06:15 AM
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Fixing a Leaking Cellar and Crawlspace

Hi - I'm under contract to purchase a house built in 1900. A few years ago the owners, who are a property development company, took the house back to the studs, completely remodeling it. My housing inspector thinks they did a great job and didn't cut any corners. During the inspection the inspector noticed damp and moisture in the brick cellar and crawlspace. He suggested that the moisture is raising the level of humidity in the house, which is leading to secondary problems with the floorboards. He also suggested that the cause of the moisture was from the grading of the property along the north wall, which very obviously slopes down towards the foundation. However, because of various reasons why that area might not be able to be fully resloped, he suggested that an immediate fix might be just to place a dehumidifier in the basement (which he though might almost 100% fix the problem.)

Ok, now, a day or two after the inspector left, I happened to be in the cellar during a large downpour. (I am also currently the tenant in the house.) Suddenly, water starting coming through what appear to be pen-sized holes in the wall. Even though the flooding wasn't bad at all (a few puddles on the floor), this changed the dynamic of the purchase. I spoke with the owners who have agreed to fix the problem by regrading the north wall and installing a french drain along the wall. Given that the floor of the cellar is dirt, they don't think a sump pump is a practical solution. And wisely, they advise that merely coating the cellar walls with a sealant is a temporary fix.

A few questions:
(1) How do you feel about their proposed solutions?
(2) Controlling the leak is important but controlling the humidity is as well. I placed a humidifier in the cellar yesterday. It hasn't yet been running for 24 hours. The cellar humidity was 68% when it began and now is 58%. However, the first floor humidity is still in the low 60%s. Granted, it's 92% humidity outside right now! Do I just need to be patient?
(3) Any other suggestions?
 
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Old 06-03-14, 06:46 AM
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1. I do NOT think a painted on coating inside will solve a water problem especially where you have water visibly pouring from the wall.

2. A dehumidifier is a Band-Aid solution. You yourself have seen moisture in the basement and water pouring through the wall. It's sorta like saying a coffee cup for bailing is a good fix for a leaky boat. The water is inside and you're trying to remove it after the fact.

3. Traditional water control measures... The exterior needs to be graded to direct surface water away from the home. Gutters and downspouts should direct water well away from the home. And, there should be a perimeter drainage system outside the basement wall and the wall should be water proofed from the outside.
 
 

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