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Basement wall prep question

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Basement wall prep question
Posted by Rafferty on Wednesday, July 08, 2009 11:42 PM
so im starting to plan my layout,how should I prep my concrete basement walls, they have occasional holes in them from air, should I just paint over them should I fill the holes, what have others done?
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Posted by selector on Thursday, July 09, 2009 1:11 AM

They should be sealed on the outside surface to keep moisture from the backfilled soil out of the basement.  Otherwise, frame it and add a poly moisture barrier over the framing, and then add gyproc.

If that is too involved and expensive, you could see if some smaller milled lumber could be fixed vertically at regular intervals and then cover them with wallboard.

-Crandell

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, July 09, 2009 5:57 AM

selector

They should be sealed on the outside surface to keep moisture from the backfilled soil out of the basement.  Otherwise, frame it and add a poly moisture barrier over the framing, and then add gyproc.

If that is too involved and expensive, you could see if some smaller milled lumber could be fixed vertically at regular intervals and then cover them with wallboard.

-Crandell

Sealing the basement from the outside is a good suggestion but, in most cases, it is too expensive and impractical to go this route on an existing home as opposed to new construction.  Most foundations are "damp proofed" rather than "water proofed" at the time they are poured.  As a result, water infiltration and dampness can be an ongoing problem.

In my case, I did have occasional "sweating" of the basement walls at least once a year following really heavy rainstorms, particularly in the areas where the foundation forms were joined together by metal rods during intial construction.  My solution was to "paint" the basement walls with a product called Drylox manufactured by a company called UGL.

Drylox is a latex base masonry waterproofer paint that comes in three colors: gray, blue and white.  It can be tinted if other colors are desirable.  It is realtively odorless and non-flammable.  According to the manufacturer, it is guaranteed to stop water and withstands up to 10 pounds of hydrostatic pressure.

I applied Drylok with a wallpaper paste brush rather than a traditional paint brush because it is quite thick.  I used gray which provides a nice neutral background.  I then used Liquid Nails to apply Masonite board to the painted basement wall and painted in blue as a background. 

Drylox was thick enough to smooth out the craters and crevices and apparently is an effective water proofer because I haven't experienced any dampness or sweating in the four years that is has been in place.

Rich

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Posted by lvanhen on Thursday, July 09, 2009 6:56 AM

Ditto the Drylok(x).  If you want to use the walls as a backdrop, a finish coat of plaster could be applied to cover the "holes".  Then paint "sky" blue.  Smile

Lou V H Photo by John
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, July 09, 2009 6:57 AM

Yes, dealing with the moisture should be your primary concern.  Also, take a look at the ceiling.  If it's open rafters, consider adding a ceiling of some sort (either sheetrock or a hanging tile system.)  This will greatly reduce the dust level falling on the layout.  Consider your electrical outlets and lighting at this time, too.  All of this will not only make your layout-building more pleasant, it will add value to your home as well.

Think about the background for your railroad.  Some just use the bare walls and don't worry about it, but other modellers paint the walls with a background scene and sky.  A smooth curved "cove" rounding out the corners is a nice touch, particularly when doing photography.  There are also several manufacturers who make background "wallpaper" scenes you can put up behind the layout.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by CSXDixieLine on Thursday, July 09, 2009 7:31 AM

Do you know if you already have a moisture problem? You can take a one foot square sheet of thick clear plastic and duct tape it to the concrete wall (and floor) in your basement. Come back in a week and see if there is moisture between the concrete and the plastic. If you have moisture, then you may need to consult a waterproofing professional. In my basement, I used Drylok on one wall that had some seepage issues and it has been dry for 6+ years. I completely finished my basement, so over the concrete walls I used a thick poly sheeting vapor barrier (all seams taped) then framed out stud walls about 3" in front of the concrete perimeter walls, then did drywall and a suspended ceiling. Used the same poly sheeting on the floor then installed a laminate flooring. Jamie

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Posted by bogp40 on Thursday, July 09, 2009 8:12 AM

There are many ways to attack this problem depending on the type of foundation, depth into the grade, amount and height of ground water (watertable) and runoff.

Regardless of poured concrete, concrete block or stone "rubble" wall constuction the use of a sealer, like Dryloc, is a must. Of coarse the best results are sealing a poured concrete wall. I have seen unsealed poured foundations 6 ft into grade that are dry as a bone and also ones that at 3-4 ft sweat, periodically seap or even flood due to groundwater and runoff conditions.

Waterproofing a wet foundation from the inside is a difficult project and many time futile. It is like patching a leaking boat w/ bandaids from the inside.

Some of the first steps to take is to change any rain/ gutter and downspout runoff. Extreme cases of exteme watertable will require a sump pump. The use of a pump would be good insurance even for that ocational rise in groundwater.

Rubble walls and some concrete block can be the most difficult to deal with if extreme water conditions exist from time to time. Even the best repairs to these type of walls and proper sealing, can still have future leaks due to continued settling and movement of the stone/masonry. I am basing much of this from considerable work on foundations in New England where some homes seem to almost been built into the water table.

Chronic leaks at bulkheads and under existing concrete patio slabs can be slowed or solved by hydrolic cement repair. This can be quite $$$ and should only be performed by a proven contractor.

Some talk of perimeter drains. Do use care if this is considered as part of a solution. Perimeter piping and gravel can act 2 ways. You can inadvertently end up with more water  under heavy wet conditions from water filling the gravel "moat" that has been created. Heavy rains and dounspout runoff shed better with good backfill compaction. Of coarse any rising water table due to rain can really only be controlled by a sump pump. Hopefully yours is not the extreme case.

One note to finished, studded walls and any wall board especially when insulated. If high humidity or moist conditions still exist the use of any visqueen/ plastic behind the wallboard can cause mold/ mildew problems.

If you don't or can't have a totally climate controlled basement enviornment, whether by HVAC or at least dehumidifiers, any sort of air circulation during the damp periods will help tremendously. Of coarse any air exchange/ ventilation can created the other "evil" with dust.

Just like to throw some of this info out there hoping it can help for those with some of the real serious issues. Most preparing basements for the "train room" will never see many of these extremes.

Modeling B&O- Chessie  Bob K. 

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Posted by Rafferty on Thursday, July 09, 2009 5:47 PM
thanks for the replies thankfuly water is not a problem, the concrete is smooth but theres an occasional hole or air bubble here and there that I want to fill, I'm leaning towards painting the concrete. i might put clear plastic to cover hte ceiling but I want the area accessible in case I want to add more lighting or more electrical outlets
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Posted by RFinch on Thursday, July 09, 2009 9:59 PM

 One thing that hasn't been mentioned is testing your basement for radon before you do any finishing work that would make it difficult to access any cracks, etc. that may be in your basement walls or floor.  Radon test kits can be purchased  at Lowes or Home Depot or you may be able to get them free at your local health dept.  If you get a reading on the test of greater than 4 pico curies/liter you may need to consider having remediation work done by a local licensed radon remediation contractor.

When I tested our basement before I had it finished, the reading came in around 25-30 pico curies/liter.  After I had it remediated, which involved sealing the joint between the walls and the floor and any other cracks and holes in the floor and walls and having a exhaust blower installed on the existing passive radon vent coming out of the sub-floor slab area, the radon level dropped to approximately 2 pico curies/liter.  I have read that radon causes the second largest number of cases of lung cancer after tobacco smoking.  If you smoke and are exposed to radon it increases your risk for lung cancer even more.

Re moisture:  When I had our house built I had the portion of the basement wall that was to be below grade waterproofed.  Most of our basement wall is above grade and whole rear wall of the basement is a frame wall to give us a daylight walk-out basement.  From late May thru September, when humidity is high in our area, I run a dehumidifier in the basement.  Doing this, I can keep the relative humidity at or below 50% during that period.  The basement is heated and air conditioned so this also helps. 

Hope this helps,

Bob

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Posted by eddiejoe on Sunday, July 12, 2009 9:06 AM

I've done what your planning in a couple of houses I've lived in. I don't remember exactly what I filled the holes with but it was just some type of concrete patch material. I used basement wall paint from Sears and it worked great. They had a special roller for this paint as it is thick. I used a very coarse brush where the roller didn't fit. The paint had a strong odor to it so open some windows and use a fan.

Ed

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Posted by TomDiehl on Sunday, July 12, 2009 8:51 PM

selector

They should be sealed on the outside surface to keep moisture from the backfilled soil out of the basement.  Otherwise, frame it and add a poly moisture barrier over the framing, and then add gyproc.

If that is too involved and expensive, you could see if some smaller milled lumber could be fixed vertically at regular intervals and then cover them with wallboard.

-Crandell

"gyproc" seems to be a European term (or possibloy a brand name) for the more common "sheetrock." A Bing search brought up a company in Dublin, Ireland. Sheetrock comes in may grades, and what I used, and would recommend, is the moisture resistant or "green sheetrock," which is the color of the facing paper. Even if your basement is dry, being below grade is a potential for moisture. Although I've never used it (and first heard it advertised right after I finished my layout room Sigh), you should also look into the mold resistant sheetrock. It may be overkill, but I sealed the walls before the framing, and any framing pieces that touch the wall or floor are pressure treated lumber.

Smile, it makes people wonder what you're up to. Chief of Sanitation; Clowntown
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Posted by HHPATH56 on Sunday, July 12, 2009 9:33 PM
I go along with much that has been suggested already, but would suggest the use of horizontally laid Luan wood sheets, screwed to 1"x2" that have been liquid glued to the walls.(Luan is flexible enough to form curved corners. Luan will not become moldy, as drywall will. I started the background at the top of the layout, with cove molding framing the suspended insulation tile ceiling, with 10 random textured plastic light filters and double tube shop lights for illumination. If I were to do it again, I would suggest the use of canister lighting, which can be dimmed and is not temperature sensitive.     Bob Hahn
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Posted by Blue Flamer on Monday, July 13, 2009 9:44 AM

TA462

Finishing a basement can be very expensive if you do it the PROPER way.  If your basement doesn't leak then get a good concrete paint and do the walls and floor.  If it leaks then get it fixed.  Once that is done then start with laying 1 inch pink interlocking foam boards on the floor and 2 inch pink interlocking foam boards on the walls.   Once that is done caulk every single crack you see around windows, around the floor beams and the seam where the floor and wall meet with spray foam.  Now you can tape every seam on the pink foam boards. Once that is done then you can lay your floor with interlocking 1/4 inch plywood and frame the walls.  This is the proper way to insulate a basement that has a lot of humidity and temperature changes like I do in Southern Ontario.  Don't use the fiberglass batt's in the basement.  They will hold a ton of water over time which will lead to mildew issues down the road.  Besides that you must make sure your vapour barrier doesn't have any holes in it which is near impossible.  If it even has a hole the size of a pin it can cause water from humidity to build up in the walls.  Mike Holmes from the TV show Holmes on Homes taught me how to do a basement PROPERLY and if you ever watch his show then you know he knows what he is talking about. 

 

Ditto that. Mike is a Builder/Contractor that really knows his stuff. He just about ALWAYS goes above and beyond the minimum building code requirements (particularly here in Ontario) because he believes that most of the code is inadequate in today's environment. He also believes that ALL builders and renovation contractors should be licensed and be held accountable for their mistakes.

If you do any renovations or have them done for you, make sure that you get any permits that may be required from your local Municipality, (Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC and Structural) and make sure that the Building Inspector checks each as it is completed and signs off on the permit. This not only protects you from improper workmanship, but pretty well ensures that your household insurance will cover any incidents that may crop up. It's called "DUE DILIGENCE" and it shows that you have done all in your power to avoid any problems.

Blue Flamer.

"There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness"." Dave Barry, Syndicated Columnist. "There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes." Doctor Who.
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Posted by Midnight Railroader on Monday, July 13, 2009 9:30 PM

TomDiehl
"gyproc" seems to be a European term (or possibloy a brand name) for the more common "sheetrock."

 

 Or drywall.

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Posted by DigitalGriffin on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 10:11 AM

TomDiehl
"gyproc" seems to be a European term

EDIT:

I'm guessing it's short for Gypsum Board drywall. 

The green sheets that surrounds showers and tubs is more moisture resistant.  It is considerably more expensive than it's regular sheetrock board.

 Greenboard, the drywall that contains an oil-based additive in the green colored paper covering that provides moisture resistance. It is commonly used in washrooms and other areas expected to experience elevated levels of humidity.

Don H-Specializing in layout DC->DCC conversions

Modeling C&O transition era and steel industries There's Nothing Like Big Steam!

 

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Posted by nucat78 on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 11:25 AM

You might want to set aside some $$$ to buy a dehumidifier also.  I've found basement humidities can vary a LOT even when finished / DryLock painted walls, etc.

If it turns out you don't need to buy one, you can use the $$$ for more trains.  Wink

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Posted by Penn&N on Thursday, July 16, 2009 10:34 PM

 I would agree about the dehumidifier.  All the other things said are very valid, of course.  I purchased a portable 2 or 3 gallon tank capacity dehumidifier at Walmart (<$60) for the basement; I was floored how much water it put out!  Since this is a second home, I bypassed the tank and had a drainage hose divert the runoff directly into an adjacent stall shower (since I'm not around to  empty the tank).  The basement smells fresh (no vague smell of mustiness) and the humidity is now in the very acceptable range.  This home was built brand new about 5 yrs ago and is dry--no leakage or seeating that I can see.  Still, the humidifer makes a world of difference!

Bryan

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Posted by Seamonster on Friday, July 17, 2009 3:13 PM
Before you put up stud walls and the concrete walls become hidden for ever, you should look for the ends of the snap ties. Those are the metal rods that hold the two sides of the forms together when the concrete is poured. They break them off to remove the forms but that leaves many metal rods through the concrete from one side to the other. They will rust over the years and let water leak through. Of course, if your walls are concrete block, you won't have snap ties and if the exterior was waterproofed with a membrane, you won't have the problem either. I plugged the snap tie ends and any other holes I found with something called hydraulic cement before I put up the stud walls. That was almost 30 years ago so my memory of it is a bit hazy but I recall it was a putty-like substance that I just jammed into the depressions and smoothed flat. The nice thing about hydraulic cement is that you can use it even if water is leaking through the hole. It should be good for plugging any holes and depressions in a concrete wall as I recall that it was easy to work with.

..... Bob

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Posted by IVRW on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:57 AM
I would glue drywall to them.

~John

16 Years old, Modeling the Bradley-Woodard Timber Company of Northwestern Oregon in 1932

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 11:32 AM

If you're going to paint the walls, I would use Drylock paint even if you don't have a moisture problem. It doesn't cost much more than regular paint and may benefit you down the road by preventing a problem with moisture from developing. In my basement I used a first coat of the regular white, then for the second coat did white again on the lower 40" or so and above that used blue. Drylock has a couple of standard colors that include a blue that is actually a pretty good sky blue. In fact when I put up the first section of my backdrop, I used the same Drylock blue as the base color.

Second, if you just moved in, I would give it some time before installing carpeting, drywall etc. to see if any problems develop. We just had some water seep in along the floor after a torrential rain, never had water before in the three years we've been here. Got it patched up with hydrostatic (or whatever they call it) concrete.

Third, be aware that by installing drywall etc. and "finishing" your basement, you may be increasing the value of the house...and may have to pay higher property taxes.

Stix
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Posted by dm9538 on Thursday, August 20, 2009 5:35 PM

My  layout is in a fully finished basement. Framed, drywalled, floor coverings and supended ceiling. I did this one major reason: Comfort, my theory is if the room is not comfortable you are less likely to want to work down there. As far a the ceiling as a carpenter I always recommend suspended grid ceilings. Remember if you drywall the ceiling you lose access to alot of the mechanicals of the house, pipes, shutoffs, cleanouts, ducts& dampers, phone, tv, computer cables splitters and junction boxes and electrical conduit or wires. You never know what you will need to access in the future. Plastic sheeting on the ceiling IMHO is HUGE NO NO as I think it is a fire hazard. 

Dan Metzger

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Posted by L&M RR on Saturday, August 22, 2009 9:11 AM

I can agree with most of this, except, the 1/4 inch plywood floor.  Definitely insufficient!

The first, and most important step to a dry basement is getting the water away from the house...necessitating grading around at least 5-6 foot from the house, away from the house. This may look "tacky" in the beginning, but when channeling surface water that far away, and then piping water from downspouts out at least that far, you drastically reduce your chance of seepage into the house. I did this 13 years ago in the so called "sunny south", where when it rains, it pours, and it's still working!

 

 

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Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Saturday, August 22, 2009 9:53 AM

 I happen to be one of the very few fortunate ones who has a zero moisture problem in my basement. We have very sandy soil where I live whihc sucks if you want things like grass or a garden to grow but is excellent for drainage. That being said I still put up a vapor barrier on the block wall before I put up the stud wall. Something else I was taught a long time a go was never nail into the basement wall. I built the stud walls and secured them to the floor with a nail-gun and tied them into the floor joist. You can use construction adhesive like liquid nails for projects and glue the mailers to the wall but it's not the preferred way of doing things.for a floor I used pre-made floor panels from Lowes. They are made of OSB with a rubber matting on the underside to grip the concrete. If I recall they were about $4.00/ 2Sq ft.more then I wanted to spend but well worth the cost. It feels liek your standing on a regular floor rather then a concrete floor which will kill your feet. A friend who has a full basement layout 40'x80' uses industrial floor mats liek the kind you see in a machine shop they are a foot saver thats for sure somethign else you may want to consider.

In my o/p any of those paints advertised for water proofing are just short of snake oil most don't keep out any more moister then regular paint the one exception is drylock I have no idea whats in it but it does seem to do a nice job.

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
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Posted by mopac rick on Saturday, August 29, 2009 9:27 PM

Wanting to conserve space I choose to leave my concrete walls exposed. I first scraped the concrete walls and then coated them with drywall compound, after sanding and paint the walls looked just like any sheetrock wall. I have one small crack in the foundation that drywall tape will not completely cover, so I am planning to build a mountain over it.

Good luck Rick

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, August 30, 2009 6:09 AM

Seamonster
Before you put up stud walls and the concrete walls become hidden for ever, you should look for the ends of the snap ties. Those are the metal rods that hold the two sides of the forms together when the concrete is poured. They break them off to remove the forms but that leaves many metal rods through the concrete from one side to the other. They will rust over the years and let water leak through. Of course, if your walls are concrete block, you won't have snap ties and if the exterior was waterproofed with a membrane, you won't have the problem either. I plugged the snap tie ends and any other holes I found with something called hydraulic cement before I put up the stud walls. That was almost 30 years ago so my memory of it is a bit hazy but I recall it was a putty-like substance that I just jammed into the depressions and smoothed flat. The nice thing about hydraulic cement is that you can use it even if water is leaking through the hole. It should be good for plugging any holes and depressions in a concrete wall as I recall that it was easy to work with.

Just came across this reply and I couldn't agree more with the snap ties issue.  I had that happen to me when we built our new home 10 years ago.  Water seeped through the top snap tie all along the basement wall.  The builder came back and used a two-part epoxy to patch all of the snap tie holes.  That solved the problem from the outside.  Drylox solved the problem from the inside.

Proper grading also helps.  We had our house professionally landscaped.  The landscapers destroyed the original grade as it sloped away from the house. leaving a swale against the foundation.  Water gathered during every major storm and actually came into the basement over the top of the foundation.

Lastly, do not confuse "waterproofing" with "damp-proofing".  That black asphalt that the builder sprays around the exterior side of the foundation walls is damp proofing and cracks as the foundation cracks and settles.  Wish I knew that when we built the house.  For less than $1,000, the foundation walls can be water proofed with a black colored substance that stretches but does not crack ( kind of like a Snickers candy bar that you can snap and bend and stretch without breaking it).  Water cannot penetrate it.

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Posted by bigiron on Sunday, August 30, 2009 9:45 AM

Couple of things worth mentioning. My neighbor finished his basement and put a vapor barrier against the inside of his wall and then built the stud wall. He did have a moisture problem and also some water leakage due to a subgrade window well. He had a major mold problem over the years. The basement had to be gutted and treated by the new owners. If you research a vapor barrier installation you will find mixed reviews on it's installation. I'm in the midwest. IMO if you install it against the poured wall you trap moisture between the wall and the barrier. There is no where for this moisture to go. Thus you will have mold. As in my neighbors situation. My basement is dry. I run a dehumidifier year round, heat and cool my basement during the seasons. I used Zizzner's drylock on the walls and a water sealant where the floor and walls meet. Built my stud wall,wired, insulated and then put a vapor barrier up. I then hung drywall and primed and then painted. I used ceiling tiles and recessed lighting to finish it off. So all summed up, do you homework for your area and your home. I advise that you use a drylock on the walls, use a hydraulic cement or patch on cracks and holes,a waterproof sealant on the floor/wall area, and get a good dehumidifier that has a hose drain that you can drain into a floor drain. By the way my dehumidifier runs almost non stop in the summer months here. Get an auot restart one too. So if your power is interupted it will restart and run again. Good luck.

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Posted by RFinch on Sunday, August 30, 2009 10:11 AM

 I completely agree.  Our house has a full daylight walkout basement and when we had it built 5 years ago I had the below-grade portion of the poured concrete foundation water-proofed with a product called Wall-Guard which is a 100% rubber polymer material which has a lifetime warranty.  The company is located in Smithville, OH at 330-669-2552.  It is applied to the new foundation in two coats.  Before the second coat is completely dry, a thin layer of foam board insulation (approximately 1/4" thick) is applied to the sticky surface of the second coat to protect the membrane from rocks and debris when the foundation is backfilled.  It is best applied to a new foundation and the foundation surface down to the footers must be clean of mud and other loose debris.  My wife and I spent part of a day with stiff brooms cleaning the foundation in preparation for the application.  The application cost was about $1.60/square foot 5 years ago.  It can also be applied to concrete block foundations as well.  There are other similar waterproofing products available.  Do a Google search.

We live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV and during the summer months, June thru Sept. I run a dehumidifier (70pts/24 hours) continuously to keep the humidity level in the basement at or below 55%.  Be advised that this dehumidifier only removes approximately 36pts/24 hours under our conditions at 72 degrees F.  It does the job and the basement is very comfortable.  The basement is air conditioned but the AC doesn't run enough to dehumidify the air completely.  I recently bought this GE 70pts/24 hour dehumidifier and it has been running continuously since 8/7/09 and has not pooped out yet.  It replaced a Sears Kenmore unit that failed after three years of this level of operation.  If you're in the market for a dehumidifier, do some research at the Amazon or Sears websites before you buy.  My research led me to believe that most of the currently available dehumidifiers are junk and you can expect to get maybe two years service from them if you're lucky.  According to two local appliance stores, the LG brand dehumidifiers are difficult to get parts for when they eventually break down.

Hope this helps,

Bob   

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Posted by bigiron on Sunday, August 30, 2009 5:21 PM

Bob, I went through my last Kenmore in less than 5 yrs. Trying an LG this time. It makes some rattling noises periodically. Both were about 180-230$ There is a website you can go to and find out who makes the Kenmores. Probably LG...they make everything. I agree that one needs to research for a reliable product or they will be paying for a new one in a few years.

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Posted by Rafferty on Sunday, September 06, 2009 1:00 PM
I have a small crack that the builder says he will have them seal with some kind of epoxy that he says will join the crack and actually strengthen the concrete, he said it was a c drying crack that he would fix for cosmetic reasons any thoughts?
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Posted by ham99 on Sunday, September 06, 2009 1:57 PM

I would never put plastic on the floor and cover it with foam.  Our water table is too high, and in wet seasons it comes through the floor [in the center of the room, not around the edge].  I had to pull up the plastic, clean up the mildew, and go to a removable plastic tile and install a dehumidifier.  After a long soaking rain, I have had to lift the removable snap-together tile and dry the floor with a fan, but that is possible except under the layout legs.  I had some wall problems early on that two coats of Drylox took care of.  I have a Frigidaire dehumidifier [$230] which research said was the quietest model, and it does keep any musty smell away.  I also installed a drop ceiling and it has made a world of difference in the dust level.  Just lift the tile to get to wiring when needed.  The problem with getting advice on the forum is that conditions vary so much around the world.  Check with a local contractor or building supply source.  What is good in Arizona or Southern California may not work in New England.

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