Stopping water leaks in a basement can be a very difficult problem especially if there is a crack in the wall where the water in entering. However, if there are no cracks and your basement still leaks, there is something you can do to eliminate the water running across the floor. Its not pretty but it is effective.
Most of the time when water leaks into a basement it is because there is several feet of water standing against your basement wall on the outside. One of the very important and effective things you need to do is to make sure that the rain water that comes off your roof is not allowed to stand next to you house and run down next to your foundation. This is particularly important and difficult to fix if you have one of those highly sought after level lots or if your house is build on a hill and the rain water running down the hill finds your house to be an impediment to it getting to the bottom of the hill.
I could and probably should write a post on contouring your lot so that water runs away from your house and does not pool around your house, but that is for another sleepless night.
If you have a concrete block foundation, the water that accumulates next to your foundation can and often is inside the blocks of the wall. Even the best sealers will not be able to hold back 4 or 5 feet of water standing next to your foundation wall for very long. I have seen this draining go on for several hours in one of the houses I have done this way.
There is another situation that is very common as well. When your cellar as dug out of the ground, the contractor digs out a trench of dirt all the way around where the foundation wall is going to stand. Its called a footer. It is very important that the bottom and sides of this trench are UN-disturbed dirt and that the forms used to make the top of the concrete poured into the trench flat and level are in fact level and where the foundation wall is supposed to go.
After the footer has cured, the concrete bricks are put up on the footer and fixed in place with mortar. Because the interior of the cement blocks are largely open and they are not stacked one on top of the other but staggered to improve the strength of the wall, the webs inside the blocks do not line up. So all the mortar is placed on the sides and ends of the block being careful not to leave any gaps in the mortar.
After the wall is finished the area inside the wall is leveled, sewer pipes are installed and often a sump pit is installed where a sump pump will later be installed to keep the water that accumulated under the floor and flooding the basement. When all the plumbing is finished and tested the concrete floor is pumped in and finished. If you are lucky the floor drain or the sump pit will be the low spot in the floor and water will naturally flow there.
After a long soaking rain, water will naturally accumulate in the soil around the house and eventually build up against the foundation and basement wall. If the basement wall is concrete block often the block will leak or seep water and the wall will fill with water. And as you might guess, if water can seep in it can seep out into your basement. There is another path that is possible as well. Ground water can accumulate under your basement floor and seep in between the footer and the floor then come up through the expansion gap between the floor and the basement wall. The sump pit and pump are supposed to take care of this problem (if you have them) but some times it comes up that way anyway.
So what can be done?
Drain the wall into the floor drain or sump pit with a series of 1/2″ id schedule 40 PVC pipe and fittings. A series of 1″ diameter holes drilled into the bottom row of the concrete bricks just above the floor. Each hole has a 3″ long piece of the PVC pipe glued with Masonry Goop glue with about 1″ of the pipe sticking out of the wall. An appropriate T or Elbow fitting is pushed onto each of the pipes sticking out of the wall without glue, and the T’s are connected together with more pipe. When the pipe that is running around the wall passes the sump pit or floor drain, an additional T is inserted and a pipe is run over to the sump pit or floor drain to drain the system. The pipe and fittings are not glued together so that they can be taken apart and cleaned out as necessary.
Just a note: if the wall is leaking when you start this project the holes drilled in the concrete block will run with water until the water in the wall has drained out. So you may want to start with a hole that is nearest to the drain point to limit the mess. I have seen this draining go on for hours in one of the houses I did this to. But after the system was installed, the wall and basement remained dry.
[IVRSS_GALLERY:TYPE=CS2:DISPLAY=1:HEIGHT=205:RANDOM=NO] This pictures in the scrolling window above were taken by the new owner of this house in Canada. On the outside it looked very much like all the other houses in the area. However, in the summer time when the windows were open it was quite another story.
There were an unknown number (but apparently large) number of cats living in this house with the owners. There was a great deal of territorial spraying and urinating all over the house as is indicated by all of the pictures in the scroll.
You should notice that in several pictures the staining is quite high (3 to 4 feet) up the wall. This was obviously not done from the floor, but rather while the cat was standing on a piece of furniture. The cats also used the area under the water bed frame to hide toys, feces and other little jewels.
Repairing the house was a 2 month ordeal that was mitigated only by the fact that the new owner lived only 2 houses down the street and could retreat as necessary to their own house for rest and recovery.
Much of but not all of the drywall and all of the carpet had to be removed and discarded. Because there was so much urine in the carpeting near the walls the urine had wicked up inside the wall between the studs and the drywall. None of the wood had to be replaced because the OdorXit Concentrate eliminated the odor from the wood inside the wall and from the urine trapped between the bottom of the wall and the concrete floor.
The concrete floor out in the rooms was also heavily contaminate with urine residue as well. Washing the floor with strong detergent and using a water tolerant shop vac to remove the spent detergent and rinse water avoided spreading the dissolved urine residue around even more than it already was. Spraying the vacuum cleaner’s hose and tank with OdorXit Concentrate eliminated the odor there too.
As advised, the owner did not start replacing anything in the house until they were sure that all the odor was gone to avoid having to re-do parts of the house that were not completely deodorized. No sealers were used after the OdorXit treatments were completed and the odor did not return.
For more in depth information on how to treat urine or many other odor with OdorXit products, check out the Odor Wizard on the front page of the OdorXit Website.
By: Martin R Meyer, Quite a while ago.
|Since many local, county, and state governments have mandated that much of the new commercial and residential construction projects include run-off and holding ponds in the building plans, the number of Canadian Geese, and other critters have radically increased.This would seem to be a roaring success for the environment and the natural order of things. However, with each new construction project, the amount of wild or wooded areas for these lovely furry critters to nest continues to shrink, creating a critter housing shortage. Add to this the new and prolific food sources known as restaurant dumpsters and the much more common but not nearly as fruitful residential trash containers and you have a critter housing shortage of nearly epidemic proportions.
Yes! These well fed, prodigious and prolific Canadian geese, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, opossums and other nesting animals with no where in the natural world to live have nowhere to live. What ever will happen to these lovely critters?
How convenient it is that many of the new and not so new buildings and houses in the same areas as the new construction offer many comfortable nesting sites in attics, sheds and crawl spaces. How wonderful it is to have a warm and clean place to stay for the winter and raise a litter or two.
However, this apparently utopian synergy is not quite all that it might seem. The much bigger critters, (people) who live in the other parts of these wonderful nesting sites don’t seem to want to share.
Oh Darn, what can be done?
What will become of all these lovely homeless critter families?
What government agency can be called into action to propose new laws, ordinances, building codes, and the all-important health and critter services rules to fix this critical shortage of critter housing?
Why will the animal welfare groups, fish and wildlife groups and the all-powerful PETA not do something to fix this growing housing shortage?
Fear not homeowners they are! Try to get a government official at any level to do something…anything…about the hundreds and some time thousands of Canadian Geese fouling our parks and parking lots.
The number of houses invaded by furry nesting critters has exploded. It can cost hundreds of dollars to have just one nest of raccoons or squirrels removed from a house.
And then of course the toilet habits of these critters are not even close to being as good as that of a poorly trained puppy.
Removing the critters and their nesting material from an attic or crawl space and closing the entries with hardware cloth will stop the noise but not the smell.
So what can be done about the smell?(Here comes the commercial).
After your critter remover guy has finished bagging the nesting material, hand him an unmarked sprayer with a 20 or 30 to 1 solution of OdorXit. Tell him to thoroughly spray the entire area where the nest was and anywhere else where the critters traveled from the opening to the nest. He will complain and tell you that nothing will kill the odor. You will just have to wait until nature takes its course.
Don’t listen! Insist that he spray the area. You already know it worked on the pet problems you had, it will work on this odor too. Visit us at www.odorxit.com or call 1877-odorxit for more information on critter nests.
Martin R Meyer is the President of Listening Systems, Inc., and OdorXit is the registered trademark of Listening Systems. Their mission is to provide the highest quality, safest odor-control products at a reasonable price and to offer the best available advice on solving odor problems, even if you don’t use their products. Visit the OdorXit Website for a full list of OdorXit products as well as valuable information on solving a wide range of odor problems.
Musty smelling carpet is caused by mold and mold spores in and on your carpet even if you can not see the mold growing.
Washing the carpet in most cases only makes the problem worse. The same goes for dehumidifying the area of the musty smelling carpet.
The way we have found to eliminate the musty odor is to kill the mold and spores that are causing the odor and vacuum up the resulting dust.
Killing mold and spores is a bit more difficult than you might think or hope. Basically there are 2 products that will actually kill both mold and spores: ozone and chlorine dioxide.
Ozone gas is poison. The US EPA has not published a safe level of ozone because (my opinion) there isn’t one. The fact that Canada has banned the import of products that produce ozone even as a byproduct says volumes. The other issue is that you need fairly high levels of ozone to do the job. Levels high enough to cause fabric bleaching, and plastics to become hard and brittle to say nothing of what it can do to your eyes, skin and lungs.
Chlorine dioxide (CLO2) gas at levels above 10 parts per million (PPM) can be toxic if you are exposed for longer than a few minutes at a time. However, CLO2 is very effective at much lower levels. From .003 to .01 ppm which the EPA has indicated is safe for 24/7 exposure. And the fact that you need no electric to produce CLO2 using the OdorXit CLO2 product makes it really easy to use in any closed space. Yes, a fan will improve it performance, but the fan is not necessary for many applications including musty carpeting
After treating moldy musty carpet with CLO2 and killing all the mold and spores, there will be a nasty dust left in and on the carpet. This dust is the residue of the dead mold and spores that contains a product called mycotoxin that can be very toxic to humans and pets. Follow the link to find out much more about what they are and how dangerous they can be. Suffice to say, you need to vacuum the dust up with a very low dust vacuum cleaner. Breathing dust containing mycotoxins can and will make you sick given the chance.
OdorXit CLO2 is available at the OdorXit website.
I answered the OdorXit phone the other day and there was an unhappy customer on the other end of the line. They had used OdorXit Concentrate several times to remove the odor of a mouse nest they had found in an interior wall of their home and the odor was still there.
So as I usually do, I started asking questions about what they had done and what the contaminated area looked like and what it was made of.
Inside the Box
Turns out, there was a fairly large mouse nest between two closely spaced studs (8 or 9 inches) in an uninsulated interior wall. A piece of dry wall that spanned the studs was removed exposing the entire nesting area and an additional 8 inches about the nest creating a hole that was about 8 inches wide by 14 inches high).
Further questioning reveled that the user was only wetting the surfaces of the wood and dry wall in the exposed area. (Inside the Box).
Outside The Box
There is no telling how long the nest had been there but you can be sure it was measured in months. And you can also be sure that during that time the inhabitantance of the nest had deposited a great deal of urine (be it in small doses) into the next. There were also decomposing dead baby mice, mouse stool, and other materials like roaches and other bugs that co-inhabit rodent nests.
Expecting that the nesting materal and the wall materials were the only places that were contaminated is clearly inside the box thinking. When the area of nest becomes saturated with any liquid capilary action will draw the liquid into the areas around the nest. Favorite places include between studs and drywall, between the plate (the 2×4 at the bottom of the wall and the end of the studs and dry wall, and in severe or long term cases between the plate and the floor.
Why does this matter?
OdorXit Concentrate is not a deodorant or gas absorber, it is a odor source neutralizer. This means that it must come in direct contact with the source of the odor to work (neutralize the source).
Just spraying the surfaces addressed only the cotaminationi on the surface of the material being sprayed. The contamination (the urea salt) can travel into unexpected places while still desolved in raw urine or in water, vinegar, bleach, detergent, and other cleaning agents that were not removed after being applied to the contaminated area.
I have seen the bottom ends of studs inside walls that were badly stained buy urine that had wicked up between the drywall and the wall plate and then soak into the end of the stud. When this happens the end of the stud needs to be removed and replaced by new lumber. I have also seen the plate 2×4 at the bottom of a wall have to be replaced because of it was just too contaminated to recover. The method for doing this replacement is a little tricky because the rest of the stud is not being replaced. If you get too tough with the remaining stud, all the drywall nails will pop and the repair becomes lots more work.
The situation described in this call was not a bad one and the studs and plate were not badly discolored, but that does not mean that there was no urine hiding between the studs and the plate or between the studs and the drywall still in play. The odor description indicated that there was urine residue in all those places.
My best recommendation was to add some surfactant to the mixture an apply the OdorXit mixture much heavier in the area where capalary action was likely to have been a factor. This action may lead to damaging the still installed drywall, but the number 1 goal is to remove the odor, not perserve contaminated building materials.
What do you do when you have a really big or bad mold problem. We are not talking about a musty smell in the closet or a little musty smell in the basement. I am addressing mold this can be easily seen growing on walls, ceilings, furniture, etc.
When there is lots of visible mold growing on drywall, it is very common for the mold to be growing all the way though the drywall. There is nothing the can be done to kill the mold that has progressed to this point mostly because the drywall has already wet with water to some extent. Even as little as 2 or 3 inches of water at the bottom of the drywall can quickly result into 4 or 5 feet of mold growing in the drywall.
Even removing the moldy drywall needs to be handled with considerable care. The care is to protect the workers and the rest of the facility so that it is not contaminated with the mold being removed. Just disposing of the infected drywall can be a challenge. Many garbage dumps will not accept moldy drywall unless in is double bagged with 6 mil plastic bags.
Workers should be using tyvek suites and full face respirators while they are removing and bagging the drywall. A worker who either refuses to ware the proper garb because it is too hot of just doesn’t want to ware them needs to be removed from the project. Their choice or not, there are lawyers out there that will sue you on behalf of the refuseniks and win big settlements. After all, the worker is permanently infected with mold that can severely impair their health for the rest of their life.
That being said, living in a mold infected house or apartment or even working in a mold infected work place can and will effect you for the rest of your life generally in a very negative way. Even spending as little a 30 minutes in a heavily mold infected area can make you sick as it does in my case. Sick is defined as having a high fever for 2 to 4 hours.
Light infestations is a completely different problem and I have discussed it in detail elsewhere.