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baltclown 03-22-2010 04:36 PM

Front wall dampness
Hi there,

I'm a new homeowner as of last June and pretty much a novice in all areas so I could use some advice. It's a brick townhouse in Baltimore City with a half-finished basement. The part that isn't finished is towards the front of the house.

The sellers had painted the room white but I believe it was just paint and not any kind of sealant. After living here a few months I started to noticed that the front wall felt very very slightly damp in a few areas and there were some brown discoloration. And by damp I mean that I would run my hand over it and a tiny bit of paint would flake off and my finger was a bit wet but it wasn't much. Not enough that I was worried about storing things there. Still I figured it could get worse so I bought some Thoroseal and put two coats of that on (this was December-January or so).

A few weeks later, the brown spots had returned in some of the areas and some of those spots were damp in the same way I mentioned above.

Last night I was in there and noticed that the paint along the bottom right-hand side looked strange and when I touched it and picked at it, it easily crumbled away exposing the unpainted brick underneath. This is the first I've seen it so I was shocked. It's only on the bottom right-hand side. The rest of the wall seems dry even even on some of the brown spots.

So I'm looking for recommendations on what to do. I'm afraid to call a waterproofing company because I don't want to get roped into spending more money than we need to fix the problem. As I mentioned, the rest of the basement is finished and we've had no water problems. Nothing comes up from the floor. It's just the front wall that gets damp.

I'm thinking about scraping away as much of the paint as I can and reapplying the Thoroseal on those trouble spots since the first time I applied it it was on top of the paint that the sellers used and not to the brick surface.

Any other thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

inspectorD 03-22-2010 04:44 PM

My advice? Save your paint money and go on a nice vacation. seriously, your wasting your time from the inside, the basics are that water cannot be stopped with waterproof paint. Now if it was on the outside, you would have better luck.
We have many older posts about this kind of issue in basements. You need to treat it from the outside if you want to stop, or at least slow the progress of water into your basement.

My advice, get used to it, make sure your gutters drain properly and water slopes away from the outside of the house.
Buy a really good dehumidifier and turn it on all summer....and enjoy planning your vacation.

Other folks will stop by, but you can read others responses in the search button above. have fun .:welcome:

baltclown 03-22-2010 04:58 PM

Haha I like your advice!

I do have a dehumidifier that I've been running in there but we don't have a sump pump or an easy place to run a hose so it can empty continuously so it's a bit of a pain but I will keep it up.

And I've checked the outside a few times and recaulked the first floor window and put some hydraulic cement into some of the major pavement cracks near the foundation. I'll have to give it another inspection the next time it rains.

inspectorD 03-22-2010 05:05 PM

Maintinence is the key to keeping it you can buy a small pump to get rid of the water. The same ones used on HVAC furnaces for the air conditioner units. Maybe you already have one in the basement??:confused::D

Glad I could help.:)

itsreallyconc 03-23-2010 05:00 AM

' Thoroseal ' is a good product impo but not if you use it where it is not the correct situation,,, ' afraid to call a waterproofing company ' 'cause they'll fix AND guarantee their work ? ? ? doesn't sound as if you've much faith in yourself !

is this a 1/2 ( english ) below-grade bsmt ? just dig up the front of the house down to the footer & waterproof the wall,,, apply a protection course of miradrain/delta drain,,, install sump, pump, & riser for ' belt / suspenders ' approach,,, backfill & hand compact,,, leave w/proper positive drainage.

bearing in mind your very fine home was built in accordance with the building code, the front was never waterproofed - ONLY dampproofed,,, typically we charge $ 4,500 for a 25' townhouse while our competitors get 20 - 25% more.

lose the hydraulic cement - its nothing more'n a temp fix & is never intended to be permanent,,, caulk's another improper mtl,,, you need vertical SEALANT - sonneborn's ' sonolastic ' or meadows' ' sealtite ',,, NOTHING on the inside will EVER prevent water from penetrating the belowgrade brickwork,,, while its annoying & unsightly now, you're also experiencing structural damage albeit at a very slow rate,,, pay now or pay MORE later,,, MUCH more ! ! !

baltclown 03-23-2010 12:30 PM

I did have a waterproofing guy come inspect the basement when we first bought it and wasn't concerned enough to recommend us spending thousands to fix anything. Also I should mention that our plan is to be in this house for about 5 or so years so I don't want to put a ton of money to fix something if it's livable in the short term.

Since we had it looked at it though, the previously unoccupied house next door (whose basement was super leaky) was bought and renovated and got the water out of their basement. Plus we got a TON of snow this year. So I think both of those situations have increased how much water is coming to our wall.

Also since we're in the city we don't have a front yard to speak of. To get to the outside of the front basement wall we'd have to go through the sidewalk. Not sure how much of a problem that is.

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