Dry Basement Tips
LESLIE: Catherine in Rhode Island finds The Money Pit on WPRO and you have a basement question. What’s going on down there?
CATHERINE: Well, I had a cement cellar floor. Now the lime was coming through. So what I did I had it painted. And it still came through the paint. Now what could I do to eliminate that?
TOM: Catherine, that’s happening because there’s too much water collecting around the foundation perimeter. So that water is leaking through the foundation wall; it’s evaporating and it’s leaving behind it’s mineral salt deposits. So to cutback on that lime growth, as you’ve described it – which kind of looks like white crusty stuff or gray crusty stuff – what you should be doing is looking at the drainage conditions outside your house.
Leslie, what are some of the things outside the house that we might want Catherine to tackle?
LESLIE: Well, some of the big culprits are, first of all, do you have gutters on the house?
LESLIE: You do? Always make sure that those gutters are as clean as possible. Make sure that you get to them as often as you can. Keep them clean. Because when they’re full water tends to back up into it and overflow and then land directly on your foundation rather than going down the downspouts. Now, with the downspouts you want to make sure that they’re not just depositing the water right at your foundation. Always make sure that that downspout extends about three to six feet away from your house so it’s not just going right back into the foundation. And then, any grading or dirt that you might have around the house, make sure it slopes away from the house. You want to do everything that you can to get that water to move away. This way it won’t be drawn into your foundation.
TOM: And Catherine, once you have the grading and the drainage working right on the outside of the house, what you’re going to see is a lot less of that mineral salts actually coming through. Problem is that foundations are very hydroscopic. They really soak up water very, very quickly. And as that dries out to the inside those salts stay behind. So once you get the water to stop coming through you’re not going to have a problem. Even if you don’t have a leak, the fact that you’re getting that mineral salt deposit is evidence of too much moisture around those foundation walls. OK?
CATHERINE: Now, I know at one time someone told me I should have had that sealed before I painted it.
TOM: Well, the fact that you painted it with a foundation paint; with a basement waterproofing type paint is about all …
LESLIE: Acts as a sealer.
TOM: That’s all you can do, really. That acts as the sealer. So there’s nothing else that you can do. You really need to manage this problem by stopping the water from the outside.
Catherine, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.