Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

general questions, comments and ideas about recording, audio, music, etc.
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helstab
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Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by helstab » Wed Jun 04, 2003 7:31 am

I recently moved into a new house(renting). I was told that the basement was dry. After some recent rain I noticed some water gathered. It's only on one side and its a localized puddle. Of course I'm going to tell the landlord. He has been great so far so I don't expect much trouble. My question is.... How do you go about sealing off a basement? I live in a corner row home in Baltimore so I only have a neighbor on one side. The puddle is on the neighbors side and looks like it leaked through the brick wall. Would this be a problem fixed at the roof level??? Or do you reseal the basement wall?? How the hell does water get down there without there being water damage to the walls above the basement? The roof is the only place the water could come from.

The basement is going to be used for my home studio and the puddle side was going to be my control room. If by some strange reason it can't be fixed. can I section off that side and use the other side without fear of moisture ruining my equipment?

Oh yeah. You know how much rain there has been on the east coast lately. The puddle was there a week a go and has been gone.... even though there has still been plenty of rain...
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Three words

Post by kayagum » Wed Jun 04, 2003 7:46 am

Gutters, gutters, gutters.

You should look outside the building, and see how the gutters are set up. Check to see:

* If the gutters are clogged
* If the downspouts need extensions away from the walls
* If the grading (the slope) around the building draws water away or towards the building

If the landlord doesn't know or care to deal with it, keep that in mind when you look for your next place. Speaking as a 15 year renter who just bought a house, I think you need to inspect a rental unit as thoroughly as you would for a house inspection. Also true if you're considering commercial space.

At the very least, make sure your equipment is elevated off the floor. No basement is 100% dry. Go and find some milk crates.

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by helstab » Wed Jun 04, 2003 8:33 am

Thanks for your reply but its a row home. There is no space from one house to the next, so how can the water make it down to the basement without doing any other damage? It's leaking in I think, from the middle/back neighbor side wall. My only guess if that there is a roof problem and the water is leaking down through cracks in the brick. The walls on the inside of the house are perfect, and there is no outside part to the wall. The easy answer would be to ask the landlord, but I just wanted to see if anyone had any experiance with a problem such as this. Thanks.
-Matthew Macchio$tab

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by moogrocker » Wed Jun 04, 2003 9:33 am

I'm in the same boat as you. The basement in my studio flooded a little over two weeks ago and we got about 5 inches. I was super pissed off cause it made the whole studio smell like sewage, luckly I didn't really store anything down there. So I spent the next week and about 400 bucks on waterproofing paint, crack repair mortor, air freashener, the works. My basement was a shithole before and now it looked brand new. The last thing I had to do was put up some new shelves (to replace the shitty one I had up before). I was going to do this on friday but didn't get a chance because I had a meeting with a new potential client, who never showed up or called and left me waiting like an ass for two hours. Then my partner had a session and I could no longer use power tools so I went home. Then the rain came. Two hours later my partner called to say that there was now 8 inches of water and sewage in my nice new clean basement.

Sorry, Just had to vent.

So I had a plumber out yesterday and said it was most likely water from the new gutters we just had put in outside that led right to the drain. So call your landlord and make him deal with it, that what they are suppose to do. If you think its a crack in the wall go out to Home Depot and pick up a can or two of dri-lock crack repair. Its made just for the purpose and works like a charm.

Now I have to go out and clean the sewage from my basement....Its times like these when I wished I was a renter.

John

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by inverseroom » Wed Jun 04, 2003 9:52 am

Here's what I do, with some help from previous posts on this site:

1) Built a room-within-the-room with the floor about four inches off the cement, and the whole thing wrapped in a plastic tarp (several actually) underneath the plywood. Walls are made of moisture resistant (MR) sheetrock.

2) Sealed around the doors.

3) Put plastic on the ceiling (actually I'm just about to do that now).

4) Bought a dehumidifier at Sears and run it 24/7 (this also raises the ambient temperature about ten degrees--it's a small room--which keeps the gear at a good temperature in winter).

It feels pretty dry in there now, even when there is a puddle on the other side of the basement. (Entirely by chance, I built my room on the non-puddle side, whew!)

John.

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by helstab » Wed Jun 04, 2003 10:28 am

that sounds like a good idea, buth how tall is your room now? Before the puddle came into play I was planning on splitting the room down the middle with sheetrock anyways, maybe I could part with maybe 2 inches off the floor but thats all. Luckily I still have about 17x27 feet of room to play with.

do you have pictures of what you have done? I would like to see what it looks like?
-Matthew Macchio$tab

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by luckybastard » Wed Jun 04, 2003 10:31 am

i live in md outside of dc and the studio i am in the middle of setting up is in my garage. it hasnt flooded yet, but all the rain we are getting has me worried

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by luckybastard » Wed Jun 04, 2003 10:32 am

i live in md outside of dc and the studio i am in the middle of setting up is in my garage. it hasnt flooded yet, but all the rain we are getting has me worried

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by inverseroom » Wed Jun 04, 2003 12:24 pm

Yeah, my room IS pretty damned small. Like, upper-middle-class-McMansion-closet size. I'm 5'10" and have to duck under the heating duct. But it's a project studio, I'm the only one in it. You could lay the 2x4's on their sides on the floor, staple plastic over them, screw down plywood (gotta check very thoroughly for creaks) and there's two inches. (Since 2x4's are technically about an inch and a half)

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by drew w » Mon Jun 09, 2003 8:24 am

Good advice so far...I've practiced and recorded in too many flooded basements...picture your vintage Gretsch kit floating around like a rubber ducky! I've mostly managed to keep my gear alive despite it but just remember to keep everything out of that environment as much as you can. Like everything! Humidity, mold and all that just shaves years off the lifespan of your gear...like the brand new G&L I had...looked great, played great, kept it out of the basement as much as possible...2 years later, it turned out the humidity had snuck in and frozen the trussrod...permanently. And my bandmates Tele'....the neck started seperating. Anything you can do to dehumidify the basement...do it now!

Also, regarding...
Or do you reseal the basement wall?? How the hell does water get down there without there being water damage to the walls above the basement? The roof is the only place the water could come from.
Resealing is generally useless. Brick and many building materials are porous and unless you fix the root cause of the problem first, a waste of time. In fact, sealing a wall sometimes makes matters worse...redirecting water into new formerly dry parts of the wall or room. Usually the moisture will push through or lift the sealant eventually anyway.
The water may not be coming from the roof. I had a similar problem...it rained...the wall/ceiling leaked. The landlords searched inside and out. They repointed the entire building! They repaired the flashing on the roof. Still leaking...and usually during the rain. Turned out the guy/gal above had a leaky ass bathtub they hadn't bothered mentioning to the Super and he hadn't bothered asking. Must've needed a nice hot bath on rainy days. A couple of bucks in tub caulk and the problem was fixed. I scratched out all the rotten moldy plaster, replastered, then primed with Enamelac (shellac for sealing usually with white pigment...use whatever brand) to keep any moisture out. Leaky pipes inside the wall can do the same damage...if you can't pinpoint a rain leak.

Another tip...if you end up going this route or doing some painting...try to avoid latex paint...it actually has nutrients that feed mold. Don't use it a bathroom, basement or moist environment.
A cheap emergency solution to actual puddles or wet floors is to cover the floor with wood pallets...gets your gear up and keeps your cables clean. Had to do it once and it saved a recording session tho it was like recording on a rickety pirate ship!
Good luck...

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by helstab » Mon Jun 09, 2003 9:30 am

ok. here is some new info on the not so dry basement. I went away for the weekend. came back to another puddle. it isn't huge. It would take weeks of heavy rain to fill the whole basement with 2 inches. This time I placed some rugs around in the basement to try to see were the water is coming from. looks like make floor corners and maybe the floor itself through cracks... What I dont understand is how can this be fixed? is there no way to seal of a basement??? the land lord told me the basement was dry. Thats one reason we decided to move in. I'm calling him today and we wil see what he says. Should I build a room in a room and seal it like the above posts recommend and not give a shit about whats going on outside the tarp? I live in the city on a slight slope. the only way the water can get in I think is if to seeps through into the ground and then through my basement walls. At least there are no plants growing down there. That means there is still hope. right?!?!?
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Comment on the paint suggestion

Post by dbc » Mon Jun 09, 2003 10:38 am

They make a special paint to be used in bathrooms to prevent the walls from getting moldy...

Just something to throw out...
=8^{DC

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by tfred812 » Mon Jun 09, 2003 12:01 pm

I hate to be a downer, but I think your options are limited and expensive.

On our street all the basements flood whenever we get one of those hundred-year storms we seem to be getting every year or two now -- all the basements except mine. This is because the previous owner of the house had the wisdom, foresight, and cash to put in what is known as a tile drainage system. With this they dig a trench around the inside perimeter of the foundation and put in (I think) semiporous pipes that collect and direct water to a cistern, where a sump pump pushes it well away from the house. It works. Whenever the big rains come, I hear the sump pump kick on. We've never had any water in the basement in five years that wasn't related to a dog bath (and we don't do those anymore--bad backs).

I think the assertion that your basement is dry is landlordese for, I don't want to discuss this. Also, all the landlords I have ever known had fairly elastic definitions of words like "dry," "clean," "large," etc. (To be fair to all the landlords out there, I wouldn't want to deal with a leaky basment either.)

So, again, I hate to be discouraging, but if the basement is wet now it will continue to be wet until it is dealt with at the root, subfoundational level. And that's not a job for a renter. (At least you didn't buy the house and *then* discover what the basement was like.)

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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by drew w » Tue Jun 10, 2003 6:31 am

I hate to be a downer, but I think your options are limited and expensive.
I have to agree. I've had a lot of experience with this (see my post above) unfortunately and generally speaking drying out a leaky wet basement suitable for use as a studio (especially when below grade) can be a losing battle. You can buy a dehumidifier, install a pump and treat the symptoms but if you can't blow the money on a french drain or some professionals to diagnose and fix the problem, you may be in for some frustration.

If there's any way you can call the landlord on this one...you might want to try it now. There may be laws in your area concerning this basement problem (building codes, your lease, etc.) and if you can point to the code that says plainly that the landlord is responsible for a dry non leaking basement, you may be able to get his attention. Many cities and towns have some type of free legal service or published advice to help you. You could also approach him about the possibity of your paying for the improvements to his property in exchange for a one time rent reduction. All this failing, I would go for the room within a room described previously. That way you're not just investing in the landlord's property so he can get a higher rent out of the next tenant. And you can break your room in a room down when you move to the next leaky basement and set it up in there!

Regarding...
They make a special paint to be used in bathrooms to prevent the walls from getting moldy...
I think it's called mildew-cide. It kills mold and mildew. But you still have to stop the moisture or else it'll come back. I would address the moisture problem first, get out/kill the living mold and mildew if any. Prime with a moisture proof primer and paint with a non latex paint. But that aint for leaky basements, brick, etc. Especially if the moisture is coming up through or seeping...that needs serious attention.
Good luck...
D

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helstab
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Re: Not so dry basement. HELP Please!

Post by helstab » Tue Jun 10, 2003 6:53 am

Well considering we got SOO much rain here in baltimore. I wouldn't think it would leak much more than it did. So I guess I'm going to have to skip out on the whole RECORDING other people thing and go for the cramped project studio float. baltimore sucks! Old ugly ass good for Nothing Shit town. going to have to change the name to pier 1 recordings.

shit. ass! fuck!
-Matthew Macchio$tab

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