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Moisture issue in old house


guitar's Avatar
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11-23-15, 07:16 AM   #1  
Moisture issue in old house

Hi guys,
I live in an older house, probably built in the 50s or so.
I noticed last night that a lot of moisture was present on my baseboards (on an exterior wall). I mean, a lot, my hand got really wet. Especially behind my bed (that's up against a wall). At first I thought it was cause of poor air circulation or something as the bed is right up against the wall, but after checking another exterior wall I noticed there was some, but not as much, condensation built up there too. Overall the walls in my bedroom do feel a bit cold in the winter, but not freezing.

I guess that the insulation has either failed or there might not even be any present. I replaced a tiny bit of wall in my living room a few years ago and noticed there wasn't any insulation there, which leads me to believe there might not be any in the walls in my bedroom at all. I'm adding a picture I took of the baseboard, sorry for the poor quality.

The walls I believe to be plaster, also. Which makes me dread the idea of tearing them out (I don't have much experience save for hanging sheetrock, but I never dealt with plaster and those lattice boards, I've heard it can be a pain).

I guess what I'm asking for now is, can I pull the baseboards out and check what's going on there, and put fiberglass insulation behind to control the moisture until spring comes and I can deal with the walls? Is there something else I could use or consider?

I would like to replace the walls with sheetrock eventually, but I believe that project will take some time that I don't have at the moment.

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XSleeper's Avatar
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11-23-15, 07:38 AM   #2  
Insulation does not fail. It may be of low quality, some Insulation from that era used to be very thin and in a black tar paper bag. It often did not even fill the whole stud cavity. More than likely your baseboards are sweating because of air infiltration. I would suggest you remove the baseboards and caught the sill plate to the floor. This will stop any air infiltration and should reduce sweating. Later when you replace the sheetrock you can remove the old insulation and replace it with new.

 
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11-23-15, 07:44 AM   #3  
What you are seeing is condensation of the warm moist air in your bedroom on the cold exterior wall. It is usually most common behind furnature where air flow is poor or low on the walls (heat rises and so the lower parts of the walls tend to be cooler). There are only two real solutions, either insulate the walls (blown in is a option if you dont want to tear the plaster down) or a dehumidfier.

 
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11-23-15, 07:56 AM   #4  
Balloon wall constrution?
If so those walls are open all the way from the bottom to the attic.
When the old plaster comes out it's a great time to up grade the wiring, add outlets, add fire blocking at the top and bottom of the walls, then insulate.

 
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11-23-15, 08:08 AM   #5  
Have you looked outside? Look for places where water can enter.

 
guitar's Avatar
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11-23-15, 08:19 AM   #6  
Thanks so much for the info, guys. I forgot to mention, and I don't know if it's any use, but I'm pretty sure the walls are "sitting on top" of the baseboards, i.e there's no wall behind the baseboard. That's the way it was in my living room.

XSleeper, what do you mean by "caught" the sill plate to the floor?

Keith, thanks for the info.

Joecaption, yes, I do believe it to be balloon framing. I will definitely take your advice when I replace the walls.

 
Bud9051's Avatar
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11-23-15, 08:24 AM   #7  
Also, pick up an inexpensive gauge for monitoring the relative humidity. If the house is above 50% then lowering the RH will lower the condensation. This is early into the winter so I suspect this will get worse as those walls get colder.

If the wall cavities are hollow and a few other details are determined to make this ok, then blowing insulation into the walls is an option, minimal damage to be repaired.

Bud

 
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11-23-15, 08:50 AM   #8  
Caulk. Stupid voice recognition.....

 
toolmon's Avatar
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11-23-15, 08:55 AM   #9  
Has this just started recently or could it have been going on for a while and you just noticed it now? If you know it just started now, I would look for a source of moisture in the house that wasn't there before. Things like bath exhaust fan not working properly, undetected leak in plumbing, more people taking showers, boiling a lot of pasta lately? Could also be a new hole or air entry up in the attic letting cold air shoot down inside the walls.

 
guitar's Avatar
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11-23-15, 09:27 AM   #10  
Thanks, Bud. I will look into getting one.

Toolmon, it's always been really cold behind the bed through the years, but I just took it as 'natural' since the bed covers the corner. I have never noticed it to get as wet as it did this week. And I haven't noticed it on my other baseboard too, that sits in the open (on the other wall I mentioned in my first post).

 
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11-23-15, 09:33 AM   #11  
Adding to Toolmon's list, a dryer vent that is blocked or disconnected and venting to the inside, drying cloths inside, storing firewood inside, or a girl scout troop camping in your living room, with shower privileges.

Bud

 
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