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Question DetailsAsked on 4/25/2017

111 year old home that has too much moisture. What are good options? Radon fan, dehumidifier, solar fan? HELP

To get rid of moisture we've been told radon fan, dehumidifier, solar fan; which of these is best? The house's floor boards are warping, mildew on the underside of floor boards, not to mention the basement is always wet. This is a remote home in WV that family vacations multiple times a year. The area looses power frequently due to severe weather. We want to preserve this passed down home for future generations. What should we do without getting into a lot of expense?

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3 Answers

0
Votes

Arrghh - Angies List computer is removing paragraph breaks again - putting in following -

nnnn

nnnn


to indicate where paragraphs should be if they do not show - maybe you can copy and paste into a wrod processing program if this is all run together into one paragraph.

nnnn

nnnn

OK - radon fan, unless VERY high volume (which you do not have reliable power for), will do little or nothing - first its normal airflow is very low, and second it is pulling the air from UNDER your slab (out of the soil, before it gets into the house) so that will not remove moisture from the house itself to any notable degree. Plus assuming the source of the moisture is the soil itself or high water level there is likely a LOT more moisture in there than a radon extraction system can remove - plus the incoming air replacing what it removes will likely be just as moist, so that is likely a scratch-off unless you have known radon issues.

nnnnnnnn Solar fan - unless you are prepared to shingle or side the outside of the house with major solar panels, a solar fan is not likely to be much use. And in your area, especially in spring and summer but during the winter a lot too (with alternating snow and melting/rain), the outside air that is being exchanged for the air being removed is likely to be pretty high humidity - might reduce the humidity, but I would guess not to the about 50% or less average range needed to stop the moisture issue and mildew/mold. nnnnnnnn One possible solution you did not say - sealing the house off from the basement and turning the basement into an directly outdoor-ventilated space by putting in major ventilation direct to the outside - like crawlspace screening works but likely on a bigger scale. nnnnnnnn Another thing you did not say, which is usually the best solution - either stop the influx of moisture to the area entirely, or seal it off so the wet/damp ground is not in contact with the household air or structure - typically with vapor barrier on the ground. nnnnnnnn you say the basement is always wet - sounds like the source of the problem, though whether you want to spend the money needed to solve the problem may be another issue. Depending on whether the water is coming through the basement walls or from underneath (or both), and whether you have a basement slab or dirt floor, would influence which is the best solution. And of course where the moisture is coming from makes a big difference - in ability to cut it off or redirect it, and in terms of how much you need to remove or how much you have to lower it to have a beneficial effect. nnnnnnnn For instance, if the water is coming from roof runoff and rain, commonly regrading and compacting the soil around the house so it does not allow infiltration, ensuring drainage away from the house, possibly gutters with downspouts to trap the substantial roof runoff and get (and keep) it away from the foundation, etc may work. nnnnnnnn If seeping but not too large a quantity through the soil laterally from infiltrated rain, a spring, uphill sourced drainage into your house, or generally high water table, then generally a french drain around the perimeter of the house at the base of the foundation (leading to lower adjacent ground to drain away freely) and asphaltic mastic and/or waterproof (plastic or bitumastic) membrane installation on the outside of the foundation is the solution. nnnnnnnn If coming up from below due to a very effective capillary fringe in the soil (because it is fine grained, which can cause wicking commonly 3-6 feet and in very fine silty/clayey soils as much as 20+ feet above the true water table - or due to a very high water table (permanent or seasonal), the usual solution is underdrainage perforated piping under the slab, leading to a sump pump - which given your power situation and lack of observation would maybe have to lead from the sump to free surface via gravity drain pipe rather than use a pump - if your vacation home is not down in a hole or lowlands where gravity drainage is not feasible. nnnnnnnn In extreme cases, sometimes one ends up digging a deep swale or installing french drains around the house (typically on 3 sides), intercepting and draining the water before it gets to the house, installed to keep the water level at least 3-6 feet (or more as necessary) below the basement floor. Again, if in a low or very flat area, not goingto work so well without a pump, which couldnot be considered reliable in your case even if power was available reliably (though more so these days with Wi-Fi or cell connected pumps and water sensors. nnnnnnnn If free water is not getting into the basement, if a dirt floor, putting down a plastic membrane sealed to the foundation wall to prevent evaporation of that moisture to the house is a common solution in crawlspaces and basements that are very infrequently used - using a very heavy membrane like a pond liner instead of vapor barrier if it will get light walking on it. Storage on pallets or pavers as needed. nnnnnnnn Dehumidifier certainly would help - but given prolonged power outages (though you might be able to set up remote monitoring of temp and humidity and power status) while it might generally drop the humidity you might get back to mildew situation if outages last more than a day or so, or if the outage/lightning hits on power lines/ etc kill the dehumidifier. If going that route to see if it helps I would certainly have two running off separate circuits, and placed so if they have a fault and burn up that they do not set the house on fire, because they will running probably near full time. Another issue, which a largish covered sump with sump pump MIGHT solve, would be handling the water from the dehumidifier - since you clearly are not there to empty their collection buckets on a daily or maybe even more frequent basis. Some of the larger (70 pint and larger generally) units have condensate pumps to pump the water out - and of course one can rig a separate enclosed (to prevent reevaporation into the space) condensate pump. Larger commercial sized dehumidifiers also sometimes are able to handle remote intake and exhausst - using ducting - so they can sit on the ground floor and circulate the air through ducting from basement to unit, then return the dehumidified air to the basement to pick up more moisture, while draining the condensate to the outside or a sewer line (in a way it won't freeze). nnnnnnnn Of course, for any pump or dehumidifier solution, protection of the device from power surges would be critical, and if the outages are sometimes long duration that certainly would reduce the effectiveness of the solution. nnnnnnnn Certainly an A/C with evaporator coil condensate removal so it can't accumuylte would do the job, and is what commonly prevents situations like yours from becoming critical - but of course that means a large power bill, and probably remote monitoring of the unit for problems - and commonly additional automatic failure shutdown switches so it does not burn up if it overheats or loses refrigerant. nnnnnnnn You can see a LOT of discussions about damp basements/crawlspaces in the Home > Basement Waterproofing link under Browse Projects, at lower left - several of which have fasirly extensive checklists of potential sources and solutions. nnnnnnnn Determining the exact solution for your case - would require a site visit by someone familiar with damp house issues. While a basement waterproofing contractor (or several) might give you some ideas, typically they push the solution they aremost familiar with or do the most of - which might or might not be best or even effective in your case. I would recommend, for typically about $150-300, a site visit by a civil or geotechnical engineer with groundwater and wet foundation experience to lok at it and give you recommendations. (No Angies List category for that - google for Geotechnical or Soils and Foundations engineers in that area). Should also be able to tell you if you are seeing structural damage yet, or just superficial mold. nnnnnnnn One thing that is common with this sort of issue is incrementally attacking the issue - commonly by putting a vapor barrier over damp ground, diverting roof runoff or any surface runoff getting at the foundation first, then considering further steps if they prove necessary. Of course, a couple of test holes with a long hand auger to determine the natural water table level (if within say 10 feet or so of the ground surface) can sometimes give an answer of whether lowering the water level or stopping the inflow is likely to be feasible or not - because generally if the actual water table is causing the moisture issue it is not very economic (especially as a retrofit) to draw it way down unless in pretty tight geology. Usually that sort of solution (major diversion of the water source from outside the building) isuses for one-sided issues - a spring or uphill rill or shallow groundwater source that can be intercepted and diverted before it gets to the house. nnnnnnnn Once the water issue is solved, you then need to look at the mold/mildew issue - Mold Testing (which you obviously do not need) and Remediation is the Search the List category for that. Exactly what level of remediation you do may well depend on cost too - for instance, you may go with some localized board replacement or screwing down to remove the worst of the warping, and instead of sanding/sandblasting all the mold and mildew off just kill it with mildewcide and bleach and/or borax spray for instance - basically killing most of what is there now but not really remediating the boards themselves. Of course, sounds like you may have some that need total replacement (hopefully not beams or critical foundation members). nnnnnnnn Another thing that can be done in this sort of case, especially if house can be aired out for a goodly period afterwards (many days) is treating the mold/mildew, then spraying the framing and underside of the floor boards from below with a copper (better for this situation but solvent-carried) or borax-based antifungal treatment - basically one of the treatments used to make ground-contact timber. Some of them are rated for interior framing use (not inhabitant exposed surfaces, but floor joists and beams and underside of floor boards/sheathing is not considered direct exposure) and are basically a copper sulfate or copper azeole dissolved in mineral spirits (paint thinner) - for less odor there are also water-based ones like borax in hot water with a bit of detergent as a surfactant which are not as effective because the active agent does not get carried as deeply into the wood - also not as good an insect killer. Treating a crawlspace or basement generally costs not much more than a spray paint job on equivalent surface area, provided there is working room down there. nnnnnnnn Oh - during the inspection - have you had an invasive insect survey done, for termites/carpenter ants/post beetles and such ? No use solving the rot issue to lose the house to insects - and they are far more likely to invade a house that is usually vacant than one with constant occupant movement. nnnnnnnn Here is a previous similar question (same age house - perhaps an earlier question of yours under another user name ?) FYI - nnnnnnnn http://answers.angieslist.com/We-111-...

Answered 1 year ago by LCD

0
Votes

Arrghh - Angies List computer is removing paragraph breaks again - putting in following -

nnnn

nnnn

to indicate where paragraphs should be if they do not show - maybe you can copy and paste into a wrod processing program if this is all run together into one paragraph.

nnnn

nnnn

OK - radon fan, unless VERY high volume (which you do not have reliable power for), will do little or nothing - first its normal airflow is very low, and second it is pulling the air from UNDER your slab (out of the soil, before it gets into the house) so that will not remove moisture from the house itself to any notable degree. Plus assuming the source of the moisture is the soil itself or high water level there is likely a LOT more moisture in there than a radon extraction system can remove - plus the incoming air replacing what it removes will likely be just as moist, so that is likely a scratch-off unless you have known radon issues.

nnnn

nnnn

Solar fan - unless you are prepared to shingle or side the outside of the house with major solar panels, a solar fan is not likely to be much use. And in your area, especially in spring and summer but during the winter a lot too (with alternating snow and melting/rain), the outside air that is being exchanged for the air being removed is likely to be pretty high humidity - might reduce the humidity, but I would guess not to the about 50% or less average range needed to stop the moisture issue and mildew/mold.

nnnn

nnnn

One possible solution you did not say - sealing the house off from the basement and turning the basement into an directly outdoor-ventilated space by putting in major ventilation direct to the outside - like crawlspace screening works but likely on a bigger scale.

nnnn

nnnn

Another thing you did not say, which is usually the best solution - either stop the influx of moisture to the area entirely, or seal it off so the wet/damp ground is not in contact with the household air or structure - typically with vapor barrier on the ground.

nnnn

nnnn

You say the basement is always wet - sounds like the source of the problem, though whether you want to spend the money needed to solve the problem may be another issue. Depending on whether the water is coming through the basement walls or from underneath (or both), and whether you have a basement slab or dirt floor, would influence which is the best solution. And of course where the moisture is coming from makes a big difference - in ability to cut it off or redirect it, and in terms of how much you need to remove or how much you have to lower it to have a beneficial effect.

nnnn

nnnn

For instance, if the water is coming from roof runoff and rain, commonly regrading and compacting the soil around the house so it does not allow infiltration, ensuring drainage away from the house, possibly gutters with downspouts to trap the substantial roof runoff and get (and keep) it away from the foundation, etc may work.

nnnn

nnnn

If seeping but not too large a quantity through the soil laterally from infiltrated rain, a spring, uphill sourced drainage into your house, or generally high water table, then generally a french drain around the perimeter of the house at the base of the foundation (leading to lower adjacent ground to drain away freely) and asphaltic mastic and/or waterproof (plastic or bitumastic) membrane installation on the outside of the foundation is the solution. nnnnnnnn If coming up from below due to a very effective capillary fringe in the soil (because it is fine grained, which can cause wicking commonly 3-6 feet and in very fine silty/clayey soils as much as 20+ feet above the true water table - or due to a very high water table (permanent or seasonal), the usual solution is underdrainage perforated piping under the slab, leading to a sump pump - which given your power situation and lack of observation would maybe have to lead from the sump to free surface via gravity drain pipe rather than use a pump - if your vacation home is not down in a hole or lowlands where gravity drainage is not feasible.

nnnn

nnnn

In extreme cases, sometimes one ends up digging a deep swale or installing french drains around the house (typically on 3 sides), intercepting and draining the water before it gets to the house, installed to keep the water level at least 3-6 feet (or more as necessary) below the basement floor. Again, if in a low or very flat area, not going to work so well without a pump, which couldnot be considered reliable in your case even if power was available reliably (though more so these days with Wi-Fi or cell connected pumps and water sensors.

nnnn

nnnn

If free water is not getting into the basement, if a dirt floor, putting down a plastic membrane sealed to the foundation wall to prevent evaporation of that moisture to the house is a common solution in crawlspaces and basements that are very infrequently used - using a very heavy membrane like a pond liner instead of vapor barrier if it will get light walking on it. Storage on pallets or pavers as needed.

nnnn

nnnn

Dehumidifier certainly would help - but given prolonged power outages (though you might be able to set up remote monitoring of temp and humidity and power status) while it might generally drop the humidity you might get back to mildew situation if outages last more than a day or so, or if the outage/lightning hits on power lines/ etc kill the dehumidifier. If going that route to see if it helps I would certainly have two running off separate circuits, and placed so if they have a fault and burn up that they do not set the house on fire, because they will running probably near full time. Another issue, which a largish covered sump with sump pump MIGHT solve, would be handling the water from the dehumidifier - since you clearly are not there to empty their collection buckets on a daily or maybe even more frequent basis. Some of the larger (70 pint and larger generally) units have condensate pumps to pump the water out - and of course one can rig a separate enclosed (to prevent reevaporation into the space) condensate pump. Larger commercial sized dehumidifiers also sometimes are able to handle remote intake and exhausst - using ducting - so they can sit on the ground floor and circulate the air through ducting from basement to unit, then return the dehumidified air to the basement to pick up more moisture, while draining the condensate to the outside or a sewer line (in a way it won't freeze).

nnnn

nnnn

Of course, for any pump or dehumidifier solution, protection of the device from power surges would be critical, and if the outages are sometimes long duration that certainly would reduce the effectiveness of the solution. nnnnnnnn Certainly an A/C with evaporator coil condensate removal so it can't accumuylte would do the job, and is what commonly prevents situations like yours from becoming critical - but of course that means a large power bill, and probably remote monitoring of the unit for problems - and commonly additional automatic failure shutdown switches so it does not burn up if it overheats or loses refrigerant.

nnnn

nnnn

You can see a LOT of discussions about damp basements/crawlspaces in the Home > Basement Waterproofing link under Browse Projects, at lower left - several of which have fasirly extensive checklists of potential sources and solutions.

nnnn

nnnn

Determining the exact solution for your case - would require a site visit by someone familiar with damp house issues. While a basement waterproofing contractor (or several) might give you some ideas, typically they push the solution they are most familiar with or do the most of - which might or might not be best or even effective in your case. I would recommend, for typically about $150-300, a site visit by a civil or geotechnical engineer with groundwater and wet foundation experience to lok at it and give you recommendations. (No Angies List category for that - google for Geotechnical or Soils and Foundations engineers in that area). Should also be able to tell you if you are seeing structural damage yet, or just superficial mold.

nnnn

nnnn

One thing that is common with this sort of issue is incrementally attacking the issue - commonly by putting a vapor barrier over damp ground, diverting roof runoff or any surface runoff getting at the foundation first, then considering further steps if they prove necessary. Of course, a couple of test holes with a long hand auger to determine the natural water table level (if within say 10 feet or so of the ground surface) can sometimes give an answer of whether lowering the water level or stopping the inflow is likely to be feasible or not - because generally if the actual water table is causing the moisture issue it is not very economic (especially as a retrofit) to draw it way down unless in pretty tight geology. Usually that sort of solution (major diversion of the water source from outside the building) isuses for one-sided issues - a spring or uphill rill or shallow groundwater source that can be intercepted and diverted before it gets to the house.

nnnn

nnnn

Once the water issue is solved, you then need to look at the mold/mildew issue - Mold Testing (which you obviously do not need) and Remediation is the Search the List category for that. Exactly what level of remediation you do may well depend on cost too - for instance, you may go with some localized board replacement or screwing down to remove the worst of the warping, and instead of sanding/sandblasting all the mold and mildew off just kill it with mildewcide and bleach and/or borax spray for instance - basically killing most of what is there now but not really remediating the boards themselves. Of course, sounds like you may have some that need total replacement (hopefully not beams or critical foundation members).

nnnn

nnnn

Another thing that can be done in this sort of case, especially if house can be aired out for a goodly period afterwards (many days) is treating the mold/mildew, then spraying the framing and underside of the floor boards from below with a copper (better for this situation but solvent-carried) or borax-based antifungal treatment - basically one of the treatments used to make ground-contact timber. Some of them are rated for interior framing use (not inhabitant exposed surfaces, but floor joists and beams and underside of floor boards/sheathing is not considered direct exposure) and are basically a copper sulfate or copper azeole dissolved in mineral spirits (paint thinner) - for less odor there are also water-based ones like borax in hot water with a bit of detergent as a surfactant which are not as effective because the active agent does not get carried as deeply into the wood - also not as good an insect killer. Treating a crawlspace or basement generally costs not much more than a spray paint job on equivalent surface area, provided there is working room down there. nnnnnnnn Oh - during the inspection - have you had an invasive insect survey done, for termites/carpenter ants/post beetles and such ? No use solving the rot issue to lose the house to insects - and they are far more likely to invade a house that is usually vacant than one with constant occupant movement. nnnnnnnn Here is a previous similar question (same age house - perhaps an earlier question of yours under another user name ?) FYI -

nnnn

nnnn

http://answers.angieslist.com/We-111-...

Answered 1 year ago by LCD

0
Votes

Ah - got paragraphs forced into it - ignore the first bunched up post - the second one is at least readable, if you ignore the

nnnn

nnnn


entries.


Hopefully Angies List will remove the first posting - I am flagging it to them to do so.

Answered 1 year ago by LCD




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