Categories in Remodel It

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your questions in Remodel It

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rain, storm, flood, wet basement

Wet Basement “Expert” says Grading Won’t Stop Floods

Our basement is pretty humid and has moisture coming up through the concrete floors. The basement has a history of mold and flooding. From listening to The Money Pit, I know proper grading and gutter maintenance outside the home should prevent this. We had a basement expert come by and he said grading was not enough - a total overhaul was necessary and he wanted to install drain systems, a new sump pump, etc to address the moisture (our ultimate goal is to finish the basement). Is he right or is he just trying to sell his services?

Our Answer

It's no surprise that a so called wet basement "expert" would proclaim that improvements to roof and surface drainage won't fix you damp, leaky basement.  They have very strong economic reasons to do so.  Basement waterproofing companies pretty much sell a single type of repair, and it's really not a water "proofing" solution at all.  If anything its a water pumping system that allows the water ot get to and through the foundation, where its collected in a sump and then pumped out to start the cycle all over again.

The reason most basements flood is because of issues with poor surface and roof drainage.  To stop this from happening, you must:

  1.  Clean gutters & downspouts;
  2.  Make sure there are enough downspouts for the roof size. Each spout should drain no more than 600-800 sq feet of roof surface
  3.  Extend spouts to discharge at least 6 feet from house;
  4.  Improve the angle of soil at the foundation perimeter to slope away from the house.

In RARE circumstances, flooding is caused by a rising water table and in that case, a pump system is needed.  However, we're talking VERY RARE circumstances.

Here's how to tell.  If your basement dampness and flooding worsens consistent with rainfall, or snow melt - its always caused by drainage that's easily fixed.

Finally, one of the most popular posts on our site is about basement waterproofing.  Read it, and THEN read all the comments.  You'll see three groups of comenters.  Wet basement "experts" desperate to save their money-making scams, home inspectors and other independent experts calling out the waterproofing profiteers and confirming the advice we've provided, and homeowners who have tried it and saved tens of thousands of dollars.

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Best Quick Fix for Rotted Window Sill

Hi! I love you guys! I was hoping to get some ideas on this. I have a wood-framed window in my tub/shower. We had a tub surround installed about 15 years ago, and the wood frame of the window on the bottom ledge of the framing has rotted away, and water can get between the tub surround and the wall. Besides that, it looks HORRID. I intend to have the whole thing torn out and redone next year, but I would like to know if there is anything I can do quickly that is a safe, relatively inexpensive, aesthetic fix. Thanks so much for any suggestions!

Our Answer

Water and wood certainly don't mix. It does sound like the frame eventually will have to be replaced. Rotted wood is quite common with these frames. However, if the rotted area is limited, you can try filling it in. One product that might help is 3M Bondo Home Solutions Wood Filler. Another product you might try is Abatron WoodEpoxy Wood Replacement Compound.

It would be a good idea to take that extra step and replace the window, and when you do, you should consider using a PVC trim such as PVC Composite White Colonial Casing Moldings from Royal Mouldings.

In any event, you might want to consider adding a small waterproof  shower window curtain to stave off as much water as you can. Good luck with the project.


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woodshop, tools

Transform Dirt Floor Barn into Woodshop

We have an old barn that is about 30 x 40 feet in western Massachusetts. The first floor of the barn is open and has granite footings under the the posts. There is currently a dirt floor, but we want to make the bottom level of the barn the woodshop and are wondering if it would work to pour a concrete slab or if there is better option for transforming the space into a usable shop.

Our Answer

Your barn sounds like a great space for a woodshop.  A concrete floor would probably make the most sense. Since the building is self supporting, the floor will have no structural purpose so would not need to be any thicker than around 6 inches or so.  To make sure the slab doesn't crack, I'd be sure to use a good quality mason.  Preparing the grade and stone base is key, as is being sure its tamped down to eliminate any settlement under the slab.  Wire reinforcement will also be needed.  And given that you are in Massachusetts, I'd also insulate under the slab to make it a bit more comfortable to work on in colder weather.

Also, plan to apply an epoxy floor paint after it is complete, so that the slab is easy to sweep and keep clean.  And think about whether you might want to run wiring for present or future tool, outlets or other electrical connections, and have an electrician prewire the floor before the slab is poured.

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