rusty steel pole, sealing a dry basement

Old 06-21-02, 06:35 AM
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rusty steel pole, sealing a dry basement

We've been working on our basement for far-far-far too long now and keep thinking we're going to be done soon. My wife recently pointed out that we hadn't done any planning about the 4" steel support pole in the middle of the basement.

My plan is to box around it, no big deal. What may be a big deal is that the pole itself is rusty - particularly around the base. It was painted at some point (the house is 20 years old and I'm the 5th owner), but as best I can tell someone put up interior grade paint over an already rusty pole - the paint is dimpled in spots and scrubbing with a steel brush shows rust underneath.

The rust doesn't appear to be deep - scrubbing the base plate of the pole reveals metal quickly. I'm going to borrow a flail attachment for my power drill to remove the rust and paint, then repaint with a good, outdoor grade metal paint (Sherwin Williams ProBlock, which I used on my steel doors).

I'm unsure what caused the rust though -- the basement is entirely above ground and has never had any water problems. The steel support beam in the basement and garage has some minor rusting on it as well, so I suspect it's just due to humidity over 20 years. Is this a valid assumption? Or should I seriously consider having the support column replaced?

One of the next steps is to replace the carpet - currently cheap commercial grade carpet glued directly to the concrete. After reading some of the other threads here, it seems wise to rip up the carpet myself, scrape off the glue residue, and put down Dryloc and Killz to avoid mold and mildew problems from condensation and/or vapor transmission through the porous concrete. Again, smart, or is it ok to just let the new carpet installers rip out the old stuff and lay down pad and carpet?

Suggestions welcome... the pole and floor have introduced scope creep into this project which neither my wife nor myself are pleased with. But I want to do things right the first time.
Old 06-21-02, 10:28 AM
bungalow jeff
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The rust concentration at the base of the column suggests that it is not just the damp basement air. The rust may be a sign of a moisture condition under the slab (can you hear the scope creeping?). You may want to consider removing the concrete around the column to inspect the rust below. The column may have more section loss in the wet/dry condition under the slab.
Of course, the basement could have had a week or two of standing water after a bad storm or sewer burst.
Old 06-21-02, 01:22 PM
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I've noticed a similar problem with the columns in my garage. The water table in my area is low, so I assume the rust is from humidity. I run a dehumidier (in the summer) in my unfinished basement, and there is no rust on the columns.

I carpeted a basement family room in my last house. I used standard wall to wall carpet and padding. I did not seal the floor, BUT the room was very dry to start. Like yours, the basement was mostly above ground ("split entry" style house).

An option to carpeting may be vinyl or ceramic tiles. They'll stand up to occasional water or dampmness problems. You can add an area rug, and easily replace it if there is a problem.

I have a philosopy about finished basements. A basement is, and will always be a basement! It will always be prone to dampness, mildew, leaky pipes, spiders, etc. I'm not saying don't finish the basement, just understand where you are.

Good luck.
Old 06-22-02, 07:15 AM
bungalow jeff
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RichD, your post is a breath of fresh air, or damp air in the basement. When I was looking at houses, I couldn't believe the number of finished basements with panelling offset from the walls to hide the seepage, damp carpeting (we just had it washed, no really I was told this), and just plain smelly basements furnished with carpeting, nice chairs and a big TV. I recently saw a house that had the master "suite" in the basement with a narrow stair with a pipe across it 5'6" off the floor.

I like to refer to my 101-year old basement as a cellar. That tends to prepare guests for the ledge of bedrock in the front, the spiders (who are now my friends), and complete lack of a wet bar.
Old 06-22-02, 06:58 PM
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Moisture in the basement

Moisture, humidity, and ventilation problems tend to create household nightmares for many. Failure to install moisture retarder before pouring concrete basement floors and to properly address moisture problems and drainage on the exterior of foundation walls tend to be the most common sources of moisture problems in basements. Too, failure to keep gutters and downspouts clear and directing excess water away from the foundation and failure to properly landscape the soil to direct moisture away from the foundation are common sources of moisture problems.

Moisture issues should be properly addressed before beginning basement remodeling projects. A concrete moisture test should be done prior to covering the floor. Carpet pad tends not to be recommended in basements.

Whether a historic building or a new one, how to address moisture issues is the same:

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