Basement workshop, humidity problems with a twist


I've Google'd and read through most of what has been written on the subject of controlling basement humidity. Before I run out and buy a dehumidifier and/or plug in a heater or two, I had a question.
My house (brick & morter) was built in 1914 or thereabout. The walls of the basement are not provided with a plastic barrier and modern drainage system, nor do we plan on having it done. The current "fix" is that all the basement windows are unfinshed - they are mounted and shimmed, but with no moldings or isolation. Air circulates freely around the frames and through the basement.
I'm wondering if a dehumidifier is going to have any effect when it's basically working against nature, as the air in the basement is the same as the ambient air outside (more or less). I have a nice little workshop set up, have painted the floors and got ok lighting, but my tools are rusting! Slowly but surely they are getting small spots and rust areas, even the Lie-Nielsen planes I ordered last year. I've moved them into the house, but I obviously cannot put all the tools inside, no room for that.
Can anyone shed some light of possible solutions to the described situation?
Best regards, Thor
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You need to fix that problem first, before you even think about a dehumidifier. You're wasting a tremendous amount of energy, and if air can circulate freely so can insects and mice.

Of course not.
[...]

Stop the air infiltration problems around the windows.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
on Tuesday 26 April 2005 05:12 pm:

This is a 'me too'. Fix the source of the problem before tackling anything else. You can't dehumidify the whole planet.
Bill
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi Doug,
thanks for the reply. If I understand you correctly, we need to dig up around the house, provide a membrane and proper drainage, seal the windows appropriately and then deal with any moisture.
Problem being that there are 3 owners (2 flats in the house) and no desire or budget to undertake such a large investment (just getting a backhoe in close to the house is going to tear up all the brick fences, etc). From what I'm told, simply sealing the windows will only make the humidity problem worse by trapping moisture in the basement and encouraging mold and rot in the foundations (not sure if they're brick or concrete).
I'll discuss it again with the neighbors and see what we can do.
Any other ideas/suggestions for an old house without proper drainage and a damp basement?
Thor
On 2005-04-26 23:12:16 +0200, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) said:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thor, some more description may help. Are we talking about a "daylight basement" (common term where I live, where slope of the terrain allows 1 or 2 sides to be above grade with outside entrances and windows) or are you below grade on all 4 sides, and the windows in "wells"? Do you have natural drainage or a sump pump that could remove water collected by a dehumidifier?
As others have said, dehumidifying the whole outdoors is not viable, so seal the windows, then let the dehumidifier do what the leaky windows were "designed" to do. And if you want ventilation, install a vent that you can open and close, while letting the windows work correctly.
You might want to buy a cheap hygrometer (did I get the name right?) at Radio Shack to see what your humidity is. That, along with the volume of the area will five you a start to determining what size unit you need.
--
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thor Legvold wrote:

I don't think he said to dig up the house, he said to seal the windows to stop air infiltration, then try a de-humidifier. You might also try to seal the basement walls on the inside with one of those proprietary paint/coatings that supposedly waterproof the walls and solve problems just like yours. Sam
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The problem may not be the environment in your shop. Some people have hand perspiration that corrodes metal. You may want to clean a piece of steel well using gloves and test whether or not it corrodes in the shop. Dave
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
As cold as it is in my basement (3-5C in winter, 10-15C summer), I don't get anywhere near breaking a sweat :-) I don't think that's the problem, and never noticed any problem when I lived in a warmer climate (SoCal USA, Croatia, Brazil).
Thanks for the tip, though.
Thor

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thor, The humidity also comes from the walls and the floor. They wick moisture in from the outside. Now days, all interior concrete floors have to have a vapor barrier under them, and all walls are sealed. Just sealing the windows won't fix it. There are some sealers that can be applied to interior floors and walls (check local masonry supply store), but I don't know how well they work. Any cracks must also be sealed (the only guarantees that you can give about concrete are 1 it will crack, and 2 no one's going to steal it). robo hippy
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Depending on your shop you can fir out a vapor barrier wall far enough away from the existing wall to allow for circulation behind it. Vent the circualtion space behind back to the outdoors. Rigid foam board would be a better suited sheathing and pressure treated wood for anything contacting stone. Definately button up the window as recommended earlier. If you have water problems as well I have seen this treatment taken one step farther and actually trenched and tiled around the inside perimeter of the wall and an after construction sump well dug. This was all done in a weekend by 2 people with no 'hoes involved. Turned a dungeon into a decent living space. Also of note IMLTHO the person that thinks that the air leaks help keep the basement dry is wrong. One of your problems is going to be colder air movement migrating in to a warmer space (yes even in sunny california). This is going to create condensation and compound your rusting problem.
Knothead
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Knothead wrote:

By what process is this going to create condensation? Condensation occurs when warm air is cooled, not when cool air is warmed.

--
--John
to email, dial "usenet" and validate
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
WHen I moved into my house (built 1909 in Michigan) a couple of years ago the previous owner left the basement a swamp. Here's some of the things I did to help fix the problem.
Reattached the gutter spouts to spill the water about 4 feet from the walls.
Added dirt near the walls to create a slope away from the walls.
Covered the water pipes with insulation to stop them from sweating.
Filled in some wall cracks with hydraulic cement.
My driveway runs up against the side of the house, so I sealed the driveway to house seam with tar.
Sealed up door leading to outside against rain.
Added a dehumidifier. The first month or so I had it, it ran almost continuously. The electric bill was really high and I was somewhat worried. It took over a month to finally dry out the walls and floors and now the dehumidifier hardly runs and my tools stay shiny.
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.