Is the unsealed concrete block wall in my basement a problem?

Answered by Brett Kulina ~ October 9, 2012 ~ No Comments » | Respond to this question

We have a 1940s Cape Cod style home. We bought our home with the basement already waterproofed.
But we noticed on one wall, there was a new block wall in front of the old one. The basement is dry. Is the second wall a problem at all?

Kyle - Michigan

Brett Kulina

Although the addition of a new concrete block wall in your home's basement could be a problem, especially if moisture were to accumulate behind the wall unseen, my guess is that the wall was installed for a good reason, such as support for the home's foundation. If your home's basement appears dry with no signs of moisture infiltration, such as musty odors or visible mold, then you probably don't need to worry about what's behind the "new" basement wall.

Some concrete block basement walls can succumb to hydrostatic pressure, which literally forces water from the outside through the wall's cracks and mortar joints, resulting in a damp basement. The best fix for these types of moisture problems is to waterproof the exterior of the basement wall with a rubber membrane or brush-on foundation tar. In some cases, waterproofing the exterior side of a basement wall may not be feasible, in which case a concrete sealer can be applied to the interior side of the wall.

If you plan on finishing your basement and covering the block wall with sheet rock, then you might want to take a few extra precautions just in case moisture problems occur some time down the road. As I previously said, a good first step would be to seal the block wall with a quality concrete sealer. Secondly, you should use treated framing lumber when installing the sill plate and wall studs, making sure that the chosen fasteners are compatible with treated wood. Lastly, you could install green board on the walls, which is a moisture resistant sheet rock that is often used in bathrooms and kitchens.

Like most basement remodeling projects, a few preventative measures up front can save you lots of money and headaches by ensuring that your home's basement stays dry and comfortable throughout the year.

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