Damp Basement

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by LWilde, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. LWilde

    LWilde New Member

    I would really appreciate any advice re an increasingly damp basement.  It seems very difficult to get any objective help and many of the opinions I have received (including a surveyors report) contradict each other. I have recently been reading about the 'myth' of rising damp and the fact that using an ordinary damp meter doesn't work on anything but timber.  I've now found a guy who says he can do another survey for another £600 but he will use a carbide meter.  He doesn't guarantee that he will be able to find the problem though. 

    The facts are these: I have a Victorian terrace built in 1880.  The basement comprises a hallway leading from the lower entrance door, one room at the front, one at the back and a small room to the left of the entrance door which used to be a coal chute I believe.  The back room and the hallway had their floors lowered before I moved in, the floor in the front room is approx a foot higher.  The back room had a damp problem five years ago and builders were engaged to fix it. They put in in tanking, re-plastered and provided a new floor. The floor underneath is concrete.  Unfortunately none of this seems to have worked and the room looks worse than ever. The walls are damp (worse in the party wall), there is a damp patch on the floor by the door and there is mould growing on the edges of the walls of what I believe is the old fireplace. The wall of the small coal chute room facing into the hallway is particularly damp in one place where the plaster is coming away from the wall but appears to be dry elsewhere.  In this same room there is a damp patch on the floor and the walls on either side were judged to be damp by a builder using a damp meter.  There is a drain that runs under the basement and we plan to get someone to examine it with a camera for cracks.  I am told, however, that there are bound to be some cracks because of the age of the pipe, so it's being able to assess contributory cracks that's the issue.

    I've tried to be as concise as possible and I am very willing to pay the rate to get it all fixed but, so far, thousands have been spent and we still have the problem.  Any advice much appreciated.  Many thanks
  2. zak99

    zak99 Member

    Have you considered a membrane, cavity drain system. I have a damp basement in a victorian building, (just as storage) and had the membrane system fitted to the floor and a few feet up the walls and it vastly improved things. It allows the inevitable ingress of water through basement walls but contains it behind the membrane and channels it to a sump pump. You'd probably have to dry line the walls. Would be more work and expense for you, but worth thinking about. Search for Newton Membrane, thats one of the manufacturers.

  3. LWilde

    LWilde New Member

    Hi Zak99, thanks very much for getting back, that's really helpful and much appreciated. LW
  4. peter-3d

    peter-3d New Member

    Suggest you go back to the  firm who did the work with a court claim if need be after getting a proper defect analysis. There is little point in paying someone doing a carbide test which would tell you it is damp because you already know it is damp. Carbide tests are only useful to assess rising damp (in walls above ground) but what you have is penetrating damp. If the drain was cracked and you fixed it, it would not solve your problem as it sounds like a bodged job.
    BTW - damp meters are useful to us surveyors simply to give a % saturation and as you say this is a Wood Moisture Equivalent. Any form of testing deals with relative damp levels.
    What you need  is a correctly specified solution.
    If you are spending money on fees I suggest you engage an RICS qualified Building Surveyor (not an estate agent surveyor) or an RIBA qualified technically minded Architect to specify and quality control a solution.
    Now that floors are laid it will be awkward to install a cavity drain system because they need a sump pump and a means of draining the wall areas under the floor to a sump.
    In situations like this I usually go for a tanked system with impermeable membranes to wall and continuous with floor with a means of loading the wall to prevent the membrane blowing off.
    Make sure you get an insurance backed guarantee from the firm doing the work.
  5. LWilde

    LWilde New Member

    Hi Peter, thanks very much for taking the time to reply, appreciate your advice. LW
  6. nearnwales

    nearnwales Member

    just tank the walls and floor a very easy method for any diy'er.

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