How to Solve Basement Moisture Problem
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Henry from New York on the line, calling in about a basement question. What can we do for you?
HENRY: I have a full basement – a cinder block basement – and I used the pitch-a-static (ph) on the inside and now with the humidity, when it sweats, I’ve got a really bad moisture problem.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
HENRY: And I was wondering what can I use to get the pitch-a-static (ph) off of the cinder blocks?
TOM: And you put it on the inside?
HENRY: I put it on the outside and on the inside.
TOM: You were really trying to make your house float, weren’t you, Henry?
HENRY: Right, exactly. Hoping.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You turned it into a boat. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: Yeah. So now what you have is the same problem you had when you started and that is that you’ve got a serious moisture problem that’s got to be managed. So, there’s a couple of things that we want you to do.
Number one, we want you to take some steps to reduce the volume of moisture that’s getting into that block wall and that’s going to start outside your house. So you need to take a look at your gutter system. We want to make sure that you have adequate downspouts, that the gutter system is clean. You need one spout for every 600 to 800 square feet of roof surface and the downspouts are extended well away from the house. And by that, I mean at least 6 feet.
TOM: Now once you do that, I want you to look at your grading. We want to make sure the soil around the house is sloping away from the walls. Now, if the soil is flat – if it’s settled, like most homes have – you need to add more. You’ll add clean filtered and you’ll tamp that down so you’ll have a slope of about 6 inches over 4 feet.
TOM: Now, those two things are going to stop all the water from collecting around the foundation and wicking back into the house.
Inside, you’re going to need to do some dehumidification. What kind of heat do you have? Is it a forced-air system?
HENRY: Yeah. Forced air.
TOM: And is your basement covered by that system?
HENRY: Yes, part of it.
TOM: Well, one of the best things you could do is put in what’s called a whole-home dehumidifier. You have a real serious moisture problem; that’s going to help a lot. That gets installed into the HVAC system and that can take out, oh, somewhere around 11 gallons of water a day from the air.
HENRY: Oh, OK.
TOM: Now, that’s going to be expensive. If you want to try something that’s less expensive, there’s a system called E-Z Breathe, which is at EZBreathe.com. And what that does is it actually helps depressurize the basement ever so slightly and replace it with conditioned air from the upstairs.
Do you have air conditioning in the house?
HENRY: Yeah, not central air.
TOM: You have window units.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Window units.
HENRY: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. So that would help, as well. So take a look at EZBreathe.com; think about a whole-home system. But most importantly, you really need to reduce the amount of moisture that’s against the house.