In all my years of experience if I was asked to point my finger at the number one cause of preventable damage to a home it would be water infiltration. Either above grade leaking from the roof, windows, etc., or plumbing issues, to water seepage through foundation leaks, water infiltration can be responsible for major damage. This water infiltration can also effect your health.
In this article we will focus on a real life example of below grade water seepage, and the moisture rich environment that created which allowed mold to form and grow wildly. . Under normal conditions water will find its way through the soil, to the drain tile where it is then pumped out, but in this instance the constant moisture and amount of water being directed towards the foundation wall was too much for the system to handle. Refer to my previous article “Water in Your Basement?” at the ContractorJohn.com Blog for more information on the system that helps keep your basement dry.
As you can see from the first picture the exterior grading in the rear of the house was to low and was actually pitched toward the house, encouraging water to run to the house and down along the foundation wall and seep into the basement. The obvious remedy was to change the grade. In this case we had plenty of exposed foundation, so we could add more dirt and slope it away from the house, but the basement windows had to be addressed.
We installed window wells around the windows and ran 4″ solid draintile piping from the interior of the window well approximately 20′ from the house where we let it run out on the ground. We also ran the same drain tile from the downspouts and the sump pump discharge away from the house. Removing this amount of water from the immediate exterior of the house will significantly reduce the water infiltration that was over loading the basement water proofing system.
There was some visible mold growth in this completely finished basement, but the smell told us there had to be more behind the walls. As we started to remove the drywall from the walls, it quickly became obvious that the entire basement needed to be stripped down to the bare foundation walls. Another factor was from the years of water infiltration the ground under the concrete floor had become saturated and moisture was coming up through the floor. As a side note, years ago in some areas, a vapor barrier such as visqueen plastic was not used directly under the concrete floor. This missing vapor barrier allows water/moisture to come up through the floor. A simple test to see if this is a problem for you is to take a 2′ square piece of plastic sheeting and tape it to the floor for 24 to 48 hours. Peel it up and look for moisture or discoloration of the portion of the floor that was covered with the plastic. If you discover moisture, you have a potential problem and I would suggest you seal your basement floor to eliminate the moisture seepage problem.
When you are working around mold protect yourself with gloves, protective eyeware and an appropriate respirator. An ordinary dust mask is not usually enough, I suggest you use a mask specifically for mold protection, with a charcoal filter. When you are removing drywall and insulation, etc. some of the mold spores will become airborne. These spores will land eventually and if conditions that originally made the mold growth possible are not removed, or corrected the mold will begin to grow again.
The moral of this story is keep water out. The entire finished basement was lost because the water/grading issue was not addressed. preventive maintenance does work and is worth the time and minor expense.
For mold remediation in the Chicagoland area I would recommend a company called “Mold Solutions”. I have used Mold Solutions numerous times, with excellent results each time. Tell them Contractor John sent you.