Address Moisture Problems Before Painting Your Basement
LESLIE: Lyndon in Iowa is on the line, looking to paint some concrete basement walls. It’s not sticking for you, is it, Lyndon?
LYNDON: No, it’s not. What I had is I have a – the corner of my basement, the concrete just keeps flaking and you want to paint it but it doesn’t hold the paint.
TOM: Well, there’s a simple solution to that, Lyndon. The reason the corner of your basement is flaking is because you have an excessive amount of water getting in the foundation, right in that area of the basement. And I can bet you that the reason for that is a misdirected or a blocked downspout.
Downspouts typically come down in the corner of buildings. And if the downspout is dumping all the water right there, it typically will flood out that corner and you almost get sort of a triangle shape inside where you get a little bit of water at the top and a lot more as you get down to the bottom. And then whenever that block wall is that wet, it’s not going to stick.
Now, are you having any kind of a moisture problem with this basement that you know about? Because I suspect that you have one and you may not know about it.
LYNDON: I have a couple areas. I actually keep a dehumidifier running.
TOM: OK, well, let’s get to the bottom of this, OK? Because that’s all after the fact; painting is all after the fact. I want you to stop the water from getting down there in the first place.
So, the couple of things I want you to concentrate on is number one, making sure your gutters are clean and that those downspouts are 4 to 6 feet away from the house. And number two, take a look at the angle of the soil around the foundation perimeter; add enough so that you can get a grade that drops off about 6 inches on 4 feet. Pack it down really well. Don’t use topsoil; use clean fill dirt. Tamp it down very solidly. And this way, that first 4- to 6-foot area around the foundation will stay as dry as possible. If you do all that, I think your flaking problem is going to go away.
And the very last thing you do after you get all of the exterior work done could be to pull off all that loose paint and paint it one more time, just to stop some of the surface moisture from getting through. But that would be the very last thing, not the first thing to do. You’re trying to sort of put your hand in the hole in the wall and stop the water from coming through, in a way, and that’s not the way to fix this. The way to fix this is to fix the drainage issues outside and then the rest will just dissipate on its own.
LYNDON: Alright. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Lyndon. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.