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Water in Basement walls


JasonWiest's Avatar
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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02-25-08, 11:34 AM   #1  
Water in Basement walls

FYI, I've also posted this in the basement thread, because I didn't see there was one specific for vapor barriers until now.

Ok, so I have water in my basement walls, and I need help with what I should do in my situation. I'll give you background on my project(Completed 2 years ago). I live in Eastern PA and have a walk out basement. Half of my basement is above grade, and half of it is below grade. I have poured concrete walls as my foundation. I finished my entire basement with exterior walls and the following set up. Concrete walls, then a 1 inch gap then a 4mil plastic vapor barrier, then 2x4 studs with r-13 batt insulation, and then my drywall. I cut out a hole in my wall to install an in-wall speaker(above grade wall), and when I did so, I found that my insulation that was against the vapor barrier was wet. I undestand now that the vapor barrier most likely should have been on the interior of the wall, and not the exterior. What I did was grabbed ahold of my vapor barrier through the hole, and ripped the entire thing out, so now I don't have a vapor barrier at all(On that wall). When I felt behind the wall now, everything seems pretty much dry already. However, I have all of my other walls where some are partially above/below grade with the vapor barrier on the exterior wall. The walls that are completely below grade seem to have no water. Any suggestions on what I should do, and is there a concern for mold at all? Help would be greatly appreciated.

 
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INDII's Avatar
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02-25-08, 02:31 PM   #2  
When basement walls are built around the perimeter, experts leave the new wall far enough away from the foundation wall to allow for the expansoin of your batts after you install them. There are sealers for walls but that is not an option for you. This is condensate and not a leaky basement correct? The vapor barrier did not allow the water to evaporate off the wall. The insulation probably expanded up against the vapor barrier and pushed further confining the space. It will dry out. You should be ok, because what you have now is a free standing wall with space behind it and some ventilation behind it also. The wall will condensate from time to time but it wont collect like it has been. (Where your grade steps on the exterior is there any foam board installed?) Mold does not like insulation because it has no cellulos. Mold will grow on paper though. Dehumidfy your basment as needed. Keep it as dry as possible. Moisture forms when the temperature is different at the wall and the basement in general. High humidity and cool concrete with a barrier...you know the rest. I would remove the vapor barrier and install access grills and monitor the situation through the grill with a flashlight. The grills will be your passive vents now. a rule in the insulating world is this. "If" your insulation is thick enough you can often get by with no vapor barrier. Were talking about true fiberglass. Good Luck!

INDII

 
JasonWiest's Avatar
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02-25-08, 06:07 PM   #3  
Thanks so much for replying. I greatly appreciate it. To answer your questions INDII, the only water problem is from the condensation(Good news for me) I do not have any foam board insulation anywhere. Also, I've got my humidity in my basement around 35%, so I'm fortunate there as well. I have 3 types of walls. 1 where my walls are completely above ground(I have removed the VB from all of these walls, and the insulation seems to have dried up already. 2 where my walls are partially below/above grade, and 3 where they are entirely below grade. Where my walls are completely below grade, I was not going to remove the VB, because I don't seem to have any moisture(or should I remove it?) and I was going to remove my VB from the walls that are both above and below grade(unless someone says otherwise). Finally, yes I was talking about R-13 fiberglass insulation.

 
INDII's Avatar
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02-25-08, 07:20 PM   #4  
I think your fine. If that is your environment (35%)your walls will be as dry as if they were still exposed. I would monitor them however becuse conditions change. The winter this year has also been very cold in the midwest. Not sure how yours is out east. I would simply monitor the situation without further action now. A moisture meter can help you monitor a finished wall. The only place mold is likely is above between the floor joists where there is food. Mold wants, food, darkness, no air movement, and moisture. You have three or did have three of those conditions. I would gamble that warmer weather will help. But the humidity must be kept to a low value and 35 is low. This moisture may have actually come from inside the home! A common problem. I am a little concerned about your clearances so continue to monitor the walls. If you go on vacation put the furnace fan in the on position. Keep a dehumidifier going if needed. This is always a good idea. I really dont think the situation is all that grim. I have built about 150 homes in my career. Air and Water issues are the number one topic and cause builders many headaches and callbacks. Good Luck to you!

INDII

 
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