Basement brick wall wont take paint


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Old 10-21-15, 07:49 PM
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Basement brick wall like paper mache, wont take paint

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My 100+ y/o rowhouse has an unfinished basement about 4.5' below ground with a bathroom that must be almost as old (toilet connects to the main, old tub, etc.). The bathroom is adjacent to the back exterior wall of the rowhouse (short side of a ~50x15 rectangle).

I was painting that back wall, and noticed the paint wasn't covering well in some spots, and a brownish color was coming through - the wall was tan before but there was a small amount of discoloration then. So I started scraping it and a ton of paint and other 'stuff' came off very easily - not a lot of brick or mortar, but a load of everything else. Places where it came off were like paper mache to the touch before I scraped, and went down to the exposed brick after.

I am wondering if this is just a load of paint or other wall covering built up over the years, or if I have a serious cause for concern. It's on the exterior so water makes me nervous, and it only goes up the wall about 3'.

Appreciate any thoughts - thanks.
 
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Last edited by BBaulsir; 10-21-15 at 08:18 PM.
  #2  
Old 10-22-15, 04:01 AM
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Moisture behind the substrate is always a concern on an exterior basement wall and the most likely cause of the plaster [or whatever it is] peeling. What is on the other side of the foundation wall? Sometimes a moisture infiltration fix can be as simple as redirecting downspouts.
 
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Old 10-22-15, 08:42 AM
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I agree - moisture loosened whatever else was on the wall.

Fix the moisture problem on the outside, scrape the wall clean and then you can decide whether you are ready to paint or if the wall needs something like plaster again on it first.
 
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Old 10-22-15, 10:34 AM
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Thanks very much for the input.

The other side of the wall is mostly underground - the downspout drains out about a foot out from exterior wall at ground level so you may have nailed it. The hose spigot is also there but doesn't look to be leaking actively or anything. Based on a newish (~4 year old) sump pump in the exterior walkout stairwell on the same wall, I suspect there were issues with water in the past.

So I guess my question now is, how do I know if there IS a moisture issue, or if there WAS a moisture issue in the past?

I intend to just add an extension to the downspout so it will drain further from the wall regardless. Wishful thinking is that the previous owner put in the sump pump and/or did other things to prevent moisture issues. None of the wall, even the 'soft spots' felt actually moist/wet at all either before or after I scraped it down. Do I need to just wait and see, and feel for moisture after a particularly bad rain storm or something?
 
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Old 10-22-15, 10:48 AM
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Extending the downspout is a good idea! If you can, I'd vote for the wait and see if the wall stays dry before proceeding on the inside.
 
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Old 10-22-15, 03:01 PM
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it may only ' go up the wall 3' ' but that means it likely runs down from the top of grade to the bottom of your bsmnt wall where the wtr collects then builds UP ! how far below grade is your bsmnt floor ? likely you need some sort of waterproofing
 
 

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