Interesting problem having stove in basement....

Interesting problem having stove in basement....

PostBy: SMITTY On: Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:34 pm

I have been having roof leaks since last winter. I could not figure out how so much water was getting through the shingles, seeing that it's nearly a 12 pitch. I started re-roofing the house last month thinking this would fix all my leak issues. When we ripped off the North-facing side of the roof (never gets direct sun), we found rotted plywood & moisture everywhere. The 150+ year-old rafters were saturated with water.

Well, I have half the house done & it's STILL leaking. Now I know EXACTLY why. The coal stove is evaporating the endless supply of water in the basement, which, along with moisture from cooking & showering, is condensing UNDER the ice-cold shingles & sheathing. When it's real cold, it freezes & remains frozen. BUT, as soon as we have a day above 32*, here comes the water! Like clockwork, whenever it's warm out, we get wet. This explains the high humidity upstairs in the summer. I've been trying to figure that one out for a while! My first clue to a problem was the dark-brown icicles hanging from UNDER the soffits!

It put a nice dark-brown stain on the pure-white down comforter we have on the bed!

So, I need to cut in some gable vents & roof vents, & put in perforated soffits to go with some styrofoam channel under the sheathing. Right now the insulation sits right on the sheathing with no gap. We can't cut in ridge vents due to the MASSIVE beam that is there (who knows what can of worms I'll open by cutting that!). Bottom line is the roof needs to breathe.

Nothing is ever easy...such is life!
SMITTY
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - custom built by Jim Dorsey
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (not currently in use)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler

Re: Interesting problem having stove in basement....

PostBy: daveuz On: Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:58 pm

SMITTY wrote:Well, I have half the house done & it's STILL leaking. Now I know EXACTLY why. The coal stove is evaporating the endless supply of water in the basement, which, along with moisture from cooking & showering, is condensing UNDER the ice-cold shingles & sheathing. When it's real cold, it freezes & remains frozen.
So, I need to cut in some gable vents & roof vents, & put in perforated soffits to go with some styrofoam channel under the sheathing. Right now the insulation sits right on the sheathing with no gap. We can't cut in ridge vents due to the MASSIVE beam that is there (who knows what can of worms I'll open by cutting that!). Bottom line is the roof needs to breathe.

Nothing is ever easy...such is life!
Smitty, pretty old house ? I am no expert here , but have done some reading about this. It is possible that roof vents may make it worse. New houses are designed different than old houses. Roof vents cause a chimney effect pulling warm moist air from your basement up to the roof. I read where damp basements are a big problem in some homes using vents. I would have to recheck but one solution is gable vents if possible. that way it is a cross flow and not pulling air out of the lower part of the house. If your house has a ridge beam , does it also have plate beams the rafters are resting on making it impossible to install vented soffits? Just a thought.
daveuz
 

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:14 pm

First of all, there shouldn't be any insulation against the roof sheathing. Only on the floor of the attic. (back side of your upper level ceilings) Old houses didn't have much attic ventilation becuase they were insulated poorly or not at all in the attic. If you now have adequate insulation, you should add ventilation. With what your are describing, I would first find and seal all air leaks from the living space to the attic. I suspect you have some. Then since you can't add a ridge vent, considfer a roof mounted attic fan with thermostat AND humidistat. It will run in the winter to pull out excess humidity. Add vented soffit if possible. Make sure your clothes dryer is fully vented outside and if you don't have them, add exhaust fans in your bathroooms. It sounds like you've got a serious humidity problem and very likley the mold to go with it. Is your basement a "wet" basement? If so, yea, you guessed it, you'll have to fix that also. moisture travels up through the house, right through materials that you wouldn't hink would allow it.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal


PostBy: keyman512us On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:58 am

Smitty? Is your spread almost a post and beam? Do you have balloon walls? Venting is half your problem...a moisture barrier is the other half.

As far as a damp basement? #1 concern. Do whatever you have to...to get rid of the moisture. Do you have any "black mold" in any parts of the house? (like in the basement or on the bathroom ceiling?)

How high is the groundwater around your home? Do you have a fieldstone foundation? Does your basement flood? Or is it just always damp?

If your basement is just damp..look into a dehumidifier. They are pricey...but you can make one out of and old air conditioner for short money!

..Let us know!
keyman512us
 

PostBy: keyman512us On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 2:22 am

..Smitty, I just checked out your "stove/basement" photos link. Forget the roof vents! Dry up that basement! With all the moisture in the house, your walls might as well be made out of paper!

Believe it or not, I had the same problem at my house (fieldstone foundation, wet basement floor, and 'swamp' when it rained). With all that moisture I was loosing heat because old new england homes breathe more than we care to admit.

Take it from someone who has 'been there...done that'...ME:
If the air moving "through" your house is moist air....your heat is getting sucked right out with the moisture....think about it.
keyman512us
 

PostBy: keyman512us On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 2:26 am

...Just out of curiosity??? Do you get any "ice dams" on your roof?
keyman512us
 

PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 4:00 am

I've had a house built over a swamp, and while it takes a bit of work to accomplish, you can have a wet basement and not have condensation on the underside of the roof sheathing.

Eliminating the swamp can be impossible or prohibitively expensive.

The walls in the house can become like a chimney, if they are open at top and bottom, so it is very important to do a draft study of the house using either a smoke source [a cigarette works] or paper strips, [1" wide strips of toilet paper works].

If the the underside of the roof is vented from the eves [soffet vents] up to the ridge, [either ridge vents or clamshell vents] then the moisture will vent out and not condense on the bottom of the sheathing.

While eliminating internal built-in chimneys pulling heated moist air from the house to the attic is important, even painted drywall lets an amazing amount of water through from the inside of the house through to the attic.

Venting is very important. I've replaced my share of rotted sheathing on 5 year old houses. I've also removed 160 year old roof structures that are not rotted at all and the basement of the house is wet. It's all about venting and eliminating inside wall chimneys.

Good luck with the venting and detective work finding internal chimneys, it takes some time and patience.

Greg L

.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 4:18 am

I also forgot to mention an example of an internal chimney I built into my first house, this error made replacement of roof sheathing in 5 seasons, it rotted and deplyed.

In the bathroom I had a lowered ceiling over the tub/shower. I only had drywall on the inside of the bathroom. Sounds normal, right? Well I used one 16" stud-wall passageway to make a laundry chute, and I didn't make sure that there was a fire block above the door to this stud space that went all the way to the basement laundry room. the top of this stud space went above the drywall enclosure of the bathroom I also negected to put a door over the opening to the chute.

So, I had a perfect chimney that not only let moist air from the basement directly to the attic above the bathroom, but it also was a direct path from the hot, moist bathroom where the steam and humidity from taking a shower was pulled up the chimney I had created though the laoundry chute door.

One warm winter day I had a wet spot in a bedroom ceiling, I went up to the attic, and had icicles hanging from the black-mildewed roof sheathing and roof structure. What a mess!!

After closing off the laundry chute, increaseing the venting to the attic, and finding the built-in chimney [it took two of us, and numerous smoking cigarettes.] I finally had a dry attic.

Greg L

.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: SMITTY On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 10:31 pm

Wow! Thanks for all the info everyone.

Yeah, this house is one giant air-leak! And, yes....there is black mold on the windows & shower curtain in the bathroom. Bad news all around.

If you dug down 3 feet in my yard, you'd strike water. Part of my yard is a small swamp, which excess drains through a large pipe next to my barn, then exits across the street. My backyard goes straight uphill (rock ledge) & then levels out as you get close to my house. Around the house is level, then across the street, it continues downward. With all that rock, my yard is the perfect flood zone. The neighbors say it was nearly a small pond before they filled half of it in. Waterproofing is impossible without a Rockefeller-sized bankroll, as Lsfarm said. (And if I had that bankroll, I'd have a private 300 acre spread somewhere far, FAR from here with a spankin' new mansion right in the center of it!!)

One half of the house is over 150 years old, with trees for floor joists, & from what I can see through the hacked up ceiling upstairs, is post/beam construction. The other half of the house looks like 2 separate additions, done by the previous owner who was NOT a carpenter. I think half my problem is the fact that I have no vent in the bathroom (this is where all the rotted plywood was--directly above the bathroom), & the other half is that there is NO DRYWALL in my bedroom -- just 1/4" paneling nailed directly to the rafters with fiberglass insulation mashed in between. Huge gaps are everywhere. I can peek right up into the ceiling & see the wet rafters. After reading Lsfarm's post about the laundry chute, I now realize I have to close ALL those gaps up there. I've been planning on gutting that whole upstairs forever, but I have to make it a priority now. The staircase leading to the second floor IS my indoor chimney! It's all going straight through the ceiling! :cry:

I know the old section has a huge ridge beam, but the other newer section has a massive beam there too, from what we could see after ripping the roof. There was too much wood there to saw through. Either way, ridge vents are out of the question.

My bedroom was used by the previous owner as an "attic" (the entire upstairs [2nd floor] is the attic), so he never used drywall. The rest of the upstairs is a textured cardboard ceiling, half of which fell down from the humidity. That along with other gaps in that area are letting the heated air go right up under the shingles. You can see a large area where the 2 roof sections meet, where all the heat escapes when it snows. It all melts there almost immediately. The old roof already had ice/water shield in place, so I know ice dams aren't causing the leaks.

I was tossing around the idea of the powered fan with humidity control, but thought that it would just make the place even harder to heat. What I really need to do is gut the whole place & start over, but time & money are both scarce. I think this spring I'll throw in the gable vents & probably try out the fan. Sounds like my only quick-fix for the short term.

Thanks to everyone again for the suggestions! Keep 'em comin'!
SMITTY
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - custom built by Jim Dorsey
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (not currently in use)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler

PostBy: laynes69 On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 11:18 pm

We lived in a home that was built over a natural spring. The basement was always flooding, so in order to take care of it we had a submersible pump with a battery backup. That took care of the constant water. One thing to also consider is a french drain around the foundation to help slow the amount of water getting to the home. One important thing will be to get that moisture out of the home. I have seen some bad damage from moisture, our home is a good example. And the floor joists, wall studs, flooring, all of it had to be removed from our bathroom. I started over with a black hole in the middle of the home. The cause was a few tiny plumbing leaks that had went on for years. If you have drywall once mold starts to spread, you may not see it but it will be behind the drywall. Old houses are great aren't they? LOL We have a 150+ year old home that almost everything has been replaced or upgraded. We call ours the money pit, Wouldn't trade it for the world.
laynes69
 

PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 11:31 pm

Now wait a minute, I thought MY place was THE Money Pit!! :lol: :) :P

When I bought this place, I got three copies of 'The Money Pit" with Tom Hanks for Christmas.. :) :)

And I swore I'd not buy an old house, but build a new place this time.... SIGH...

Greg L
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: daveuz On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 11:59 pm

Smitty, Let me ask you this. You were told there was "almost a small pond" before it was filled in correct? Is it possible that , when it was filled the water that once collected there NOW flows directly to your house? I believe that many a "old house" with real wet basements suffers from some change in the surroundings such as a natural occurance or man made such as when paved roads went in. The roads were made higher , and the house now is lower in relation. Maybe a removal of a cistern . The reason I mention this is that very few homes can survive 150 plus years with water flowing in. When the weather gets nice , besides the other work you have , see if there is something that has changed that created this flow. Something you can fix. Someone mentioned a french drain. Good idea! But don't put gravel too close to the house as it holds moisture. Your fieldstone foundation in basicly dry stacked with small amount of lime mortor and I bet that if you pick at it it falls apart. Your not going to want to have constant moisture next to it all the time ( but it is better then flowing thru it). Can you put the french drain in sort of a "U" shape so water is directed well to each side of the house?
daveuz
 

PostBy: SMITTY On: Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:20 pm

Daveuz, I believe they filled that in over 40 years ago. The tree joists in the basement are punky & rotted to about 1/4" deep (if you brush your head against them you'll have a shower of wood chips) -- the rest is strong as steel.

The french drain is another project on a looooong to-do list that started the second I moved in. Should be a fun one, seeing that there are electrical lines running to the well & greenhouse, along with a water line to greenhouse & a bundle of wires going to a massive 1980's satellite dish, and who knows what else is down there! The good news is that all the water comes in on the west side of the house, with very little coming in on the North side. The North side I could probably fix just by slapping mortar in between the gaps in the fieldstone. I see no original mortar in any part of the foundation. Some of the limestone rocks have disintegrated into sand --- if you touch it, it just crumbles to dust. The weight of the house is the only thing holding it together (the foundation is a whole other can of worms that may never be corrected...unless those numbers are the winning ones....) Right now, the floor is dry, & the edges of the floor are starting to dry out also. I found a spot where water comes in almost as soon as rain hits the ground. I made a dam out of dirt to channel the water away from the low spot on the concrete, and into a hole I dug in the dirt section with a sump pump in it (there are 2 pumps -- one in the dirt half, which pumps over to the concrete section, which pumps outside). That little dirt dam made a huge difference. The basement is the driest it's been since I've lived here! :lol:

My project list is endless. In between all this, I work 50+ hours/week & on weekends, repair & maintain our fleet of S***box vehicles. My wife's summer car just turned 21 (now it can drink....) & her rotted out winter beater truck turned sweet 16 (I'm going to celebrate this landmark occasion with a jug of gasoline, a fifth if Jim Beam, and an acetylene torch :headbang:). That toilet has taken up MANY of my precious weekends..... then, we have my truck, which just turned 263,000 miles yesterday!! :shock: It's had the same plugs, cap & rotor for 45K miles, but I want to ride the frozen lakes this weekend on the ATV.

Gotta have fun sometime, even if it's once a year.... :occasion5:
SMITTY
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - custom built by Jim Dorsey
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (not currently in use)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler