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mold remediation in a really old house

 
pollinator
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Jim, it does sound like you have already learned much!
DO NOT INSTALL A VAPOR BARRIER ON YOUR STONE FOUNDATION!!!
OK, that just had to come out.
The system that Brian linked is not a good one. I don't think Dr. Joe does this anymore. He has had a couple failures due to foam shrinkage and it seems as though he is getting away from spray foam and utilizing taped multiple layers of XPS. The system that I typically use is; Wood frame with cap break 1" away from foundation wall, rock wool insulation, Pro-Clima DB+ smart membrane and drywall coated with gypsum plaster and lime wash. Hygrophilic coatings with a vapor barrier when you need it and breathability when you need that.
I believe in air sealing, not vapor sealing.
Vapor barriers have been complicit in 90% of the mold problems that I have dealt with. Water comes in from wherever and has no way out, so it nourishes a mold colony. When you get the water stopped, then seal your basement up so there are no drafts. Lime plaster is the best for this(breathable, cheap, beautiful).
I would air seal and insulate the upstairs, the foundation is the least of your worries. Your home is likely balloon framed, which means that you can blow cellulose down from the attic into the walls. Dense pack the walls, close the tops and bottoms of the cavities with XPS and canned foam and blow a heavy layer into the attic. Then fix every crack in your plaster. Use a little lime putty on a paint brush to close the cracks after refastening the plaster with screws and plaster washers. Do not use caulk for this! Thje last thing is the floor. If you have a T&G farm floor, then wood putty the cracks and fill the big ones with slivers of wood.
The very last thing to change is heating equipment. I have a combustion analyzer and have conducted extensive testing on many of the modern hi-tech units and found them to be operating at much lower efficiencies than stated. These efficiencies are only achieved under optimal conditions. Heat pump water heaters are not for heating climates. They rob the heat from the home in order to heat the water. This only works if your DHW is outside the home or if you are in a cooling climate, which you are not.
I have attached a photo of the damage caused to my own basement by bulk water infiltration. On the left side you can see the intact 120 year old lime plaster. How long would foam and rubber last and how much damage could that cause to the foundation walls. You can see how water infiltration has washed out the clay mortar, if left unchecked, damage could continue unseen until catastrophic failure.
2014-09-28-16.54.23.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2014-09-28-16.54.23.jpg]
 
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Thats an interesting post Bill. I think the most important thing for people to take away is that we agree on air sealing. Airtightness is different than the permeability concerns and I would argue that most problems attributed to material permeability are more likely air-leakage problems. Air leaks typically introduce much more moisture than a particular materials permeability rating. http://wncgreenblogcollective.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/should-we-eliminate-the-term-breathable-from-our-discussion-of-walls-and-buildings/ Be sure to see the illustration in this blog from Dr Joe's building guides.

Ive been wrongfully avoiding the terminology issues regarding "vapor barrier versus vapor retarder" as I think it gets overly technical for most readers but its become relevant here. Bill is sort of right, in that a vapor barrier (material with perm rating of .1 or less) is not recommended for the INTERIOR of basement walls. A vapor barrier (Class I vapor retarder) is recommended (and required by code) for below basement slabs/floors. All homes not on piers should have a vapor barrier/class I retarder separating the ground from the home even if its a vented crawlspace.

Basement waterproofing and damproofing takes place from the wall's exterior and stone or not, you absolutely want a vapor barrier/Class I retarder at this location. Obviously, not all existing projects are going to be able to access this location hence the practices developed and recommended by Dr Joe and BSC regarding interior foam. There are also other best practices for this location like granular fill capped with less permeable fill and drainage boards. http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/bareports/ba-1015-bulk-water-control-methods-for-foundations

I think Bill is mistaken about Dr Joe's experiences and current recommendations regarding these issues. For those that dont know, Joe Lstiburek is considered the godfather of building science in North America and the principle of the Building Science Corporation BSC.

Taken directly from BSC's website regarding basement insulation, http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/information-sheets/basement-insulation

"The best insulations to use are foam based...greater than .1 perm..." "Up to two inches of unfaced extruded polystyrene (R-10), four inches of unfaced expanded polystyrene (R-15), three inches of closed cell medium density spray polyurethane foam (R-18 and ten inches of open cell low density spray foam (R-35) meet these permeability requirements."

Dr Joe is known for his willingness to admit/reverse bad recommendations. If anyone knows about contradictions to the above advice from Dr. Joe and BSC, please share it with us.

I can only assume that Bill is referring to Joe's well documented experience with his barn/office renovation where his exterior (above grade) foam sheathing shrunk at the butt joints. Here is Joe's writeup on it at BSC http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/published-articles/content/pa-foam-shrinks-correction Not exactly "getting away from foam" as far as I can tell.

I like Bill's system overall but wonder about some of its details. Pro-clima smart membranes are awesome but expensive and I imagine difficult to detail in a basement renovation (high labor). I would prefer metal studs, gypsum board with no paper facing (fiberglass) and doubt the lime wash is going to serve much purpose, if anything it might slow drying of the wood framed cavity walls and I really hope youre putting the vapor retarder membrane towards the stone.

One big advantage of the spray foam method is that it gives a well defined drainage plane and condensing surface, keeping bulk water separated from the airspace and flowing down to the drainage paths to sump. It also keeps labor to a minimum, shooting in the insulation and vapor retarder in one shot. Again, this method has been proven to work by BSC and involves less opportunity for error in my opinion. The framed wall details they give also seem much less risky to moisture problems.

I have no idea how one could use a combustion analyzer to determine the efficiency of "hi-tech" units and not sure if Bill is referring to higher efficiency combustion appliances or heat pumps. Unless you are generating your own electricity on-site with combustion fuels, there is no combustion to worry about (on-site) with heat pumps which is one of their main appeals. Its also going to take a lot more than a combustion analyzer to determine the heating efficiency of a combustion appliance.

"heat pump water heaters are not for heating climates" is another blanket statement I strongly disagree with. There are many cold climate situations where HPWH make a lot of sense, especially in basements. That blanket statement ignores the summertime and de-humidification benefits as well as the type of heating appliance, possible passive solar inputs and available waste heat.

http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heat-pump-water-heaters-cold-climates-pros-and-cons

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/heat-pump-water-heaters-come-age







 
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I appreciate the informative opinions and clarifications. I still have the below questions regarding a phased approach.

What would be the result of vapor barrier and insulation of basement walls with minimal air sealing and insulation of the upstairs walls and ceiling? I mention this not because, if we stay and tackle this project, we would not eventually do those things. But since this would require phased implementation, we'd want to do the thing that would most help the apparent mold issue first, and soon. In my mind, this would be the basement, and after taking this single step we should see a huge improvement. But I'm a rookie, here.

As I see it, providing a drainage plane below a moisture barrier and installing a capillary break under the sills, then insulating, would raise the temp of all basement interior surfaces. Maybe not to the point of the upstairs temperature, but at least raise it, decreasing likelihood of moist outside air condensing to later evaporate and keep indoor humidity high. This would also effectively air-seal the basement, but not the first or second levels. However, due to whole house stack effect, moist air that leaks in at the first or second floor is much more likely to go up, not down into the slightly cooler basement to condense. (Well, I guess this would depend on the temp of the outside air. In the winter it would sink down, but would contain far less water vapor.) Since the flooring on the first floor is single layer and much of it original, there are a lot of gaps and we expect basement air to go up into the house, especially because there are a lot of places in the basement which require air sealing. But I don't expect a lot of this to go down.

 
Brian Knight
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Hi Jim, I guess we didnt answer your question with enough detail in regards to the phased aspect. Big projects like this are always handled in phases, especially if they are occupied. I think youre right with the basement being a priority but would strongly consider the attic at the same time.

Its fine to handle your project in phases and I agree that the basement is a fine place to start. I would temper your expectations in huge improvements and think you will need to address your attic/ceiling plane for measurable improvements. Stopping airflow through your ceiling/attic will slow the air coming into the basement and should reduce moisture issues there but you will still likely need to actively de-humidify. Stopping airflow through the attic will also reduce airleaks through the above grade walls.

I wouldnt worry much about airsealing any of the living area floors at this point. The most important floor is the attic floor. This is likely to account for most of your accessible air leakage. Seal your ceiling plane, help your basement problems. Add thick amounts of cheap cellulose after air sealing. I also think it can make sense to use spray foam to seal the attic floor ceiling before adding the cheap fluffy stuff on top. I would ask your specialist what he thinks about this in your situation. Complicated ceiling planes can be tough to air seal with caulk and canned foam. If the spray foam rig is coming to do the basement anyway..

Its obviously important to stop or slow the bulk water getting into the basement. If youre still unclear about the vapor barrier stuff in the basement, a vapor barrier/class I retarder/polyethelene plastic should be put over the whole floor and sealed to piers and ext walls as best as possible. Use foam insulation that is not less permeable than .1, see the BSC links for what that constitutes but I suspect 2" of closed cell spray foam applied to your rubble walls is going to be the best bet.
 
pollinator
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Jim Dunkel : Just a thought for you to chew on then I am going to tell you not to listen to me !

WE have establised that your house has a basement that often gets wet, and stays wet, and that you have a sump pump!
and drainage grooves cut in the floor !

We have established that you have a Water heater down there, What about your whole house heating equipment ?
If that is over ten years old and in that environment you need someone to tell you it will carry you until next spring
If it is 15 years old, and no longer capable of running at 85% efficiency, and leaky to the point that your cellar is much
warmer than it needs to be this too can be a reason for moisture migration !

Should you perhaps move your furnace out of the basement, yes especially if you will have to replace it!

I am partial to the idea of surrendering the bottom 12-18'' of the houses cellar, fill most of that space with washed
crusher-run, or coarse gravel Tamp it down and put down a cheap geo textile to keep the sand that comes next from
migrating down through the gravel, level and tamp that layer and lay down a vapor barrier Then stay out of that space
as much as possible, if you want to use it go down bare foot, at that point you could see if a dehumidifier could reduce
your humidity, below 50% the Mold is not active!

O. K., I'm done, It is time to do something now, trying to decide the most correct thing to do is doing the wrong thing !

Start somewhere, do something, time is your enemy, our best intentions are making you waffle regarding your best
choice, Make some phone calls, see some people, you already know what your personal worst possible event is, you
will not see any light at the end of the tunnel until you start moving !

And when do you think you will be able to burrow money any cheaper than right now today, I think and You think it has
no where to go but up ! We may be seeing something just barely better than a jobless recovery, but the people in Europe
are moving their money out of Europe and back here to the States. Interest- our interest rates are higher than the rest of
the world For the Good of the Crafts ! Big Al
 
Bill Bradbury
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Jim, what were the results of your energy audit?
Have you re-directed the water coming into the basement?
You must stop all bulk water intrusion first, then we can start with the rest.
Please post photos!
 
Brian Knight
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While it would certainly be preferable to stop all bulk water intrusion, that's probably unlikely based on the description and many homes face similar challenges. This doesnt mean you cant drastically improve overall performance until you stop the water intrusion.

The basement work can include provisions for better dealing with the bulk water like giving it more defined pathways to sump and create better vapor barriers to separate it. While the bulk water intrusion is a problem, its possible the year-round air leakage is the bigger problem contributing to the mold.

You dont have to do one thing before proceeding to another. Sometimes the battle to prevent bulk water intrusion can take many years of grading and/or exterior improvements.
 
Bill Bradbury
pollinator
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From Dr. Joe;i
Executive Summary
Successfully executing strategies
to control bulk water for founda
tions is critical for building
durability, indoor air quality, and creating acceptabl
e conditions and/or living spaces within the
foundation space. Although the energy impacts of properly done bulk water control are small to
insignificant, it should be considered a base re
quirement for any high performance house. In
addition, measures such as basement insulati
on are predicated on pr
operly managed foundation
bulk water.
The fundamental concepts that must be understo
od at the planning phase
(or during the initial
inspection of an existing home) are the following:

Surface water must be managed
: the impermeable roof surfaces concentrate rainfall at
points around the perimeter of the building; this water must be shed off and away from
the foundation. This is typical
ly done with gutters/eavestr
oughs and downspouts that are
directed away from the foundation (or run to
a storm sewer, if permitted), correctly
grading the site away from the foundation, a
nd reducing the water pe
rmeability of the
surface around the foundation. The goal is to
saturate or “load” the soils around the
foundation with as little a
dditional water as possible.

Ground water must be managed
: in order to prevent water
entry into the foundation, it
is necessary to prevent water accumulation
against the foundation walls and/or under the
slab (or ground cover). Water accumulation results in hydrostatic head pressure, which
will push water through any avai
lable joints, imperfections,
or cracks in the foundation.
Accumulation is prevented by the use of dr
ainage: measures include the use of free
draining backfill and/or drainage board ar
ound the foundation wall,
a functional footing
drain directed to daylight (a
downhill location) or a sump, a
nd drainage via granular fill
below the slab.
In terms of system interactions, improvement
of bulk water control
in foundations can only
improve conditions for other building systems.
For instance, control of
roof drainage and
directing it away from the building will reduce the ex
tent of splashback onto exterior walls, thus
improving durability and reducing th
e risk of aesthetics problems.
In terms of evaluating cost-value comparisons, it
must be noted that repair of a failed foundation
bulk water control system is time consuming, disr
uptive to occupants, destructive to exterior
landscaping, and very expensive. It is likely th
at it is more cost-effec
tive to specify foundation
bulk water control details during the construction phase, rather than retrofitting measures to
foundations showing bulk water problems.
Bulk water control measures are typically retrof
itted to existing foundatio
ns when water control
issues (and complaints) need to be solved, wh
en the basement space is being renovated into
conditioned space, and/or when interior
insulation is being installed.
The above grade measures described previously
apply to retrofit situations; in fact, many
problem cases can be solved with grading and surf
ace drainage. It is always better to intercept
groundwater before it gets to a foundation wall. Exterior perimeter drainage is always preferable
ii
to interior perimeter drainage.
 
Brian Knight
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Thanks Bill, obviously I agree with that as it comes from the link that I posted. http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/bareports/ba-1015-bulk-water-control-methods-for-foundations

Not really sure if youre using it to help your case of, must stop all water intrusion first, before doing interior improvements and not sure its helping the readability of the thread as its long and the text is awkwardly arranged. I did notice you stopped your quote just short of this sentence:

"However, in renovations, exterior perimeter drainage may not be present or may not be practical or possible. In such cases, interior perimeter drainage can be used and connected to an interior sump pump"

Yes, people should take measures to control bulk water as outlined in that excellent BSC link. However, most existing homes are not going to be able to excavate their entire basement or slab to install the vapor barriers called for and recommended by the BSC for new construction. That doesnt mean you cant take drastic measurements to improve a homes situation from the interior regarding bulk water control, air-sealing and insulation.

Jim's situation and description of water flowing on bedrock during or after heavy rain events makes me think no amount of exterior grading and improvement (short of opening up the entire mtn) will stop all bulk water intrusion.
 
Jim Dunkel
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The performance assessment/energy audit is nearly done, we are waiting on some energy modeling and then we’ll have a meeting to discuss proposed fixes.

Big Al: our secondary source of heat, a thirsty oil furnace, is in the basement, and we use it as little as possible. The wood stove keeps us warm in all but the worst cold, then they collaborate. While we wait to hear a professional opinion on fixing the place, we are not just sitting around letting things get worse! We’re doing the things that should be done regardless. We up-sized a downspout that was overwhelmed during deluges, located and cleaned out the end of the pipe where this water is routed to a small stream. I also plan to add a second downspout to this same gutter, and alter the slope to split the water between the downspouts. We’ve begun some work in the crawlspace, removing nails from the beams where they can injure anyone moving around in there and cleaning up torn-up foam insulation bits from the time the raccoons broke in and had a party. We’ve also sealed some big airleaks in the basement and crawlspace. We’re not ready to do more until we have a plan and an understanding that we will invest in this place to fix the issues. I don’t want to pile a bunch of gravel in the basement to find out we should have removed a rock ledge first, for example. While time is our enemy, we’ve been living in the house for 5 years, and others for 175 before that. We can wait a few more weeks. I know anything we would do would not be perfect, we’d be happy with a “much improved”.

Bill and Brian: Thanks for continuing the discussion on what is best and/or practical for moisture intrusion. If we had to excavate the entire exterior foundation walls and dig into the bedrock (to get the footer drains lower than the bedrock) around the house to install exterior drainage, we would have to remove/destroy two cisterns and the back porch to do it.

Bill: Do you have first-hand knowledge of situations where interior drainage below moisture retarders and walls covered in 3 inches of closed cell foam insulation have failed or caused mold issues? I would hate to go through all of the effort and expense to do something that doesn’t work. I’ve never been in a basement retrofitted this way. Would be interesting to hear from an owner who had this done 20+ years ago to see how it holds up and if it resolved moisture issues.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Hi Jim,
No I do not know of anyone who has actually utilized this method for a basement, stone or concrete. If there was some kind of 3rd party, multiple installation, long term testing; then this might be a solution. I have a lot of respect for BS Corp. and I used to follow their work assiduously, back when I was making my money by performing CBA's. Then came some failures and a complete re-work of all materials and methods that I recommend along with a lapse in my BPI credentials. So now I have a different methodology all together and no callbacks. I only use smart membranes, no vapor barriers except on the eaves. As Brian pointed out they are expensive, but less than spray foam. They provide a real air barrier, unlike spray foam(one of my failures was from poor spray foam install and my relying on it as an air barrier in an unvented roof assembly-you can't see inside the foam so how do you know?)
I don't think I have been very clear, so; uncontrolled bulk water flowing through a stone foundation will wash the earthen mortar from between the stones. Ice and water shield on the inside of the foundation wall will not help this situation, but create a very nice place for mold to grow. If you would like to beta test for BSC, first stop the water.
So, now I make my living by restoring old homes and bringing them up to or above modern efficiency standards. I explained a typical retrofit situation for me in an earlier post. I test before and after and I maintain long term relationships with the few clients that I work with.
Old homes are my career and my passion, but I will not be responding to this thread anymore as it has devolved into the same historic fabric vs. DER argument that rages across the country(at least in my field). I have presented my take on what constitutes the proper balance of the 2 sides and I hope that my meager writing skills have served to relate a lifetime of building experience to this discussion.
 
Jim Dunkel
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Bill,
I just want to say thank you for investing your time in this discussion and providing your own opinions based on what you have seen work. I understand there are pros and cons to all scenarios, Annie and I are just trying to understand the menu of choices and think critically about what will work. I've re-read your posts and it sounds like your professional recommendation is:

1) Stop all bulk water intrusion via excavating the exterior and installing drainage around the perimeter, then backfilling.
2) Build an interior

wood frame with cap break 1" away from foundation wall, rock wool insulation, Pro-Clima DB+ smart membrane and drywall coated with gypsum plaster and lime wash.

If I understand correctly, this is only recommended after step 1) is completed, otherwise bulk water intrusion would overwhelm the system. Also, since bulk water is handled by an exterior system, there are no changes required to the bedrock floor
3) Insulate and air-seal upstairs, walls via dense pack cellulose and a combination of foam and xps for the ceiling plane, followed by blown-in cellulose
4) Finish air-sealing by addressing plaster cracks and floor gaps

This approach, while expensive/disruptive/complicated to accomplish step 1, would work and lower cost of other steps may help offset some of the cost. It is an alternative to spray foam, and in your opinion, reduces risk of structural problems that could occur with allowing continued water intrusion which is managed on the interior by drainage plane routed to a sump pump.

Jim
 
Bill Bradbury
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Jim, you are most welcome.
1) yes, you could probably excavate two diagonal trenches above the patio etc., then seal the trench with clay to prevent water from traveling down toward your house, backfill with gravel to a depth of 1' and replace topsoil. It sounds like you are controlling roof runoff, so if you can divert subsoil water around the house, you should be fine. I would not insulate the basement until you have lived for one year free of water in the basement.
2) repoint the stones in your basement and repair the plaster. This will stop air, water and pests from entering, while costing nearly nothing. Post on the building forum for help with this.
3)Yes, your BA will have a list of air sealing suggestions based on IR scans.
4) plaster cracks sealed with plaster and refastened as necessary using plaster washers, wood floor gaps can be addressed by cutting slivers to fit the cracks/gaps, tapping in with a block of wood and a mallett and a bit of glue, then plane/scrape/sand/finish accordingly. Your windows probably need new glazing putty and weatherstripping as well as your doors. I use the Resource Conservation Technology system for this.
Whatever you decide to do, maintain the integrity of the structure and the vision of the original builder. To me, this means; retain all windows and doors, plumbing and lighting fixtures and only use finshes that would be available in that era.
5) upgrade heating system; I like hydronics, but I have been very interested in whole house and DHW heating from a 40 gal tank water heater and a forced air fan coil. Definitely best bang for the buck!
Nearly all of the above things can be accomplished by the average Joe. If you decide to tackle any of these things, please post them to these forums.
 
Jim Dunkel
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So, an update. We had our meeting with our home performance professional (HPP). His plan mimics much of what was supplied here by knowledgeable folks offering their opinions for free without any photos or having been in the home!

Phase 1) address basement water, add temporary dehumidification
Phase 2) air seal ceiling plane and dense pack cellulose fill wall cavities (currently empty)
Phase 3) replace oil furnace with heat pump and ventilating dehumidifier hooked to data-logging programmable thermostat

Annie and I have discussed this work, our love of this historic home, and our connection/rootedness to the area and have decided to invest in this old house and stay here for as long as we are able or forever, whichever comes first. Phase 1 and 2 should fix the mold issue, and phase 3 is optional and allows us to kick the petroleum habit and convert to solar. The one problem we face is still specifics for Phase 1. Our HPP is admittedly not an expert in this area and we need some professional opinions. He is recommending a gravel drainage plane on the floor (covered in moisture barrier and concrete) which drains to sump, then 2" of closed cell spray foam above grade and 1" closed cell spray foam below, benefits as discussed by Brian Knight earlier. For the attached crawl, moisture barrier over earthen floor, 2" of spray foam on the crawl walls. One thing I've determined is that Bill Bradbury is right to be concerned about the integrity of the masonry, everything needs to be repointed and my research suggest I should only use a hydraulic lime mortar, nothing that contains portland cement. This will be my winter project, cleaning masonry joints and repointing with HLM which can only help maintain wall stability and slow or prevent moisture ingress. In that time we will meet with various people who can assess the bedrock floor and determine drainage plane possibilities vs. exterior waterproofing options. We are undecided about foaming the walls.

Since Phase 2 is best done in warmer weather, we'll wait out the long winter with a leaky ceiling plane and empty walls, hopefully our last one. Since our walls and floors are cold, it feels cold in the house when the air is 72. The plan is to change all of that. We've been running the wood stove and humidity is down to 35% upstairs and 65% downstairs, which is down from 90% seen everywhere for a 1 week period prior to our home audit in October. The difference is the early winter we're having in NE Ohio providing cold/dry air, frozen grounds preventing moisture ingress, and a woodstove going 24/7.

We have slopey ceilings upstairs and the only real option for attic air-sealing and getting any kind of significant R value is spray foam in the 4.5 inches between rafters. Since we already installed a 50yr metal roof over everything 3 years ago, we have to do this from the inside, which means removing the ceiling entirely. Insulating/air-sealing with spray foam, and installing a new ceiling. Should be fun. We will also temporarily remove select clapboards on the exterior and dense pack the walls, then repaint the house.

Phase 3 is optional and hard to think about now, other than how do we fund it.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Hi Jim,
Right on! I'm happy to hear you are sticking it out.
Limeworks has loads of info about lime mortars and plasters and their proper use.
I stated in an earlier post that my wife is a professional geologist, so if you post photos and geology of your area, we could help you with controlling the water before it gets to the house.
Good luck with this interesting project.
 
Jim Dunkel
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Why do I not want to install a vapor barrier on the inside wall of my foundation? Every waterproofing person I've talked to so far who would quote the job has recommended it. If not to direct water to an internal sump, then to prevent evaporation through the walls leading to high humidity indoors. They are not recommending moisture barriers, but vapor barriers. One was BPI certified and pointed me to this article, see "news story #2"

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/joe-lstiburek-discusses-basement-insulation-and-vapor-retarders

Of course these people are selling their products, so I take it with a grain of salt... Seems more reversible than spray foam, but virtually no insulating value so would be a possible condensing surface in summer, which should be reduced by airsealing (preventing humid air from entering) and the rest handled by dehumidification.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Hi Jim, please read over this thread and then let me know if you have more questions.Vapor barriers on foundations?
Keep in mind when dealing with contractors is they like a direct path that ensures success for a long enough period of time that you will not sue them. Very few are putting in the time to learn ways of restoring natural buildings with natural materials. Respect the wisdom of a man who built a house that is still in use almost 200 years later. How many of these "waterproofers" will have that distinction with their product? Highly hygroscopic coatings like lime hold hold up vapors within them(at least until overloaded) so they do not transmit into the inner wall materials that are less hygroscopic. Water entering through the walls is always controllable; yes there will be wetting events, but these typically don't cause problems like chronic wetting and moisture retention.
 
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Fun Guy Inspections is a certified local expert company for mold inspection,
water damage, lead testing, environmental air quality testing services in Los Angeles.
 
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Mold Removal Staten Island NY Mold Removal PA Mold Removal NJ Mold Testing NJ Mold Testing Staten Island NY Mold Testing NJIt is always a difficult decision to make. Most mold issues can be solved without them re-occurring. The predominant factor is to eliminate all future moisture intrusion issues. In your case this is easier said than done. As a certified mold inspector, my recommendation to you would be to hire a structural engineer to diagnose the issues and determine if the elimination of future water intrusion is even possible. If cost effective measures can be taken to eliminate all future water issues, and the cost for the existing mold remediation fall in line with the value of your home then you have your answer. Here are a few of our web sites that outline these issues and may be of help.



Annie Gibbons wrote:I just want to say, first of all, thank you so much, to everyone who has responded! The amount of information and ideas has been more than I expected, and very helpful. (A little overwhelming to take in all at once, but very helpful!)

I will have to go back and read things over a few more times probably, but a couple quick things:

1. The idea of looking into a home performance contractor makes much more sense, and I'm in the process of finding someone local. I never would have thought of that, but I think the holistic/systems approach makes a lot of sense.

2. Something my husband mentioned that I hadn't thought of in terms of changes to the structure of the house is that x number of years ago (maybe a decade?) the previous owners put in a patio that butts up to the back of the house. We've noticed some heaving of the pavers right against the outside wall (this is the side of the house over the crawl space). So that's something to look into, too.

3. As far as fracking/well drilling - could be. I don't know of any right nearby, but this is a big area for it, so could be? OH! I don't know if this could have had any effect, but just thought of it - 2 summers ago, I believe, there was a waterline put in along the road in front of our house, and our house is pretty close to the road. We talked to someone prior to the work about possible effects on the foundation, and were told there would be no negative effects. Not sure if that could be an issue, though?

4. Matu - no worries. I get it - I'm tired of this and frustrated with the ongoing issues and part of me does want to just move on and start fresh somewhere that doesn't have this issue. But - this house does have a lot of meaning to us, so for that and other reasons we want to do our research and figure out what we're dealing with and what it will take to fix it before deciding.

5. Why don't install a vapor barrier on the stone foundation? We were considering one on the basement ceiling, not the foundation - but curious why.

6.

He'll tell you, "You've got a moisture problem in the basement, causing mold growth downstairs and upstairs. You should get it dry so we can remove the mold for you."


This is the thing - while I can understand why a remediation guy would want things dried up before they remove the mold - I have cleaned and recleaned enough things to have experience there... So obviously we need to deal with the source of the problem and take care of that before any real "final" cleaning/mold removal can happen. But what about the meantime? Assuming we talk to someone, figure out a plan that will address the root issues and decide to go ahead with it. That would be months, before we'd have it "dry". I'm concerned about what we're living with/breathing in in the meantime. Hopefully things will get better, as we're getting into winter and the wood heat will dry things out. But I really want to understand just how much mold we're breathing in, and if it's something that's going to have any real negative effects on our health. None of us is obviously very sick from it, but we do have allergies, and I do notice my throat burning if I stay too long in certain areas of the house, etc... None of that can be good. Not sure if that is something that a home performance contractor would be able to do?

Again - I imagine I've missed some things - I'll have to read through it all again. But thanks!

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