What would be the result of vapor barrier and insulation of basement walls with minimal air sealing and insulation of the upstairs walls and ceiling? I mention this not because, if we stay and tackle this project, we would not eventually do those things. But since this would require phased implementation, we'd want to do the thing that would most help the apparent mold issue first, and soon. In my mind, this would be the basement, and after taking this single step we should see a huge improvement. But I'm a rookie, here.
As I see it, providing a drainage plane below a moisture barrier and installing a capillary break under the sills, then insulating, would raise the temp of all basement interior surfaces. Maybe not to the point of the upstairs temperature, but at least raise it, decreasing likelihood of moist outside air condensing to later evaporate and keep indoor humidity high. This would also effectively air-seal the basement, but not the first or second levels. However, due to whole house stack effect, moist air that leaks in at the first or second floor is much more likely to go up, not down into the slightly cooler basement to condense. (Well, I guess this would depend on the temp of the outside air. In the winter it would sink down, but would contain far less water vapor.) Since the flooring on the first floor is single layer and much of it original, there are a lot of gaps and we expect basement air to go up into the house, especially because there are a lot of places in the basement which require air sealing. But I don't expect a lot of this to go down.
If I understand correctly, this is only recommended after step 1) is completed, otherwise bulk water intrusion would overwhelm the system. Also, since bulk water is handled by an exterior system, there are no changes required to the bedrock floor
wood frame with cap break 1" away from foundation wall, rock wool insulation, Pro-Clima DB+ smart membrane and drywall coated with gypsum plaster and lime wash.
Annie Gibbons wrote:I just want to say, first of all, thank you so much, to everyone who has responded! The amount of information and ideas has been more than I expected, and very helpful. (A little overwhelming to take in all at once, but very helpful!)
I will have to go back and read things over a few more times probably, but a couple quick things:
1. The idea of looking into a home performance contractor makes much more sense, and I'm in the process of finding someone local. I never would have thought of that, but I think the holistic/systems approach makes a lot of sense.
2. Something my husband mentioned that I hadn't thought of in terms of changes to the structure of the house is that x number of years ago (maybe a decade?) the previous owners put in a patio that butts up to the back of the house. We've noticed some heaving of the pavers right against the outside wall (this is the side of the house over the crawl space). So that's something to look into, too.
3. As far as fracking/well drilling - could be. I don't know of any right nearby, but this is a big area for it, so could be? OH! I don't know if this could have had any effect, but just thought of it - 2 summers ago, I believe, there was a waterline put in along the road in front of our house, and our house is pretty close to the road. We talked to someone prior to the work about possible effects on the foundation, and were told there would be no negative effects. Not sure if that could be an issue, though?
4. Matu - no worries. I get it - I'm tired of this and frustrated with the ongoing issues and part of me does want to just move on and start fresh somewhere that doesn't have this issue. But - this house does have a lot of meaning to us, so for that and other reasons we want to do our research and figure out what we're dealing with and what it will take to fix it before deciding.
5. Why don't install a vapor barrier on the stone foundation? We were considering one on the basement ceiling, not the foundation - but curious why.
He'll tell you, "You've got a moisture problem in the basement, causing mold growth downstairs and upstairs. You should get it dry so we can remove the mold for you."
This is the thing - while I can understand why a remediation guy would want things dried up before they remove the mold - I have cleaned and recleaned enough things to have experience there... So obviously we need to deal with the source of the problem and take care of that before any real "final" cleaning/mold removal can happen. But what about the meantime? Assuming we talk to someone, figure out a plan that will address the root issues and decide to go ahead with it. That would be months, before we'd have it "dry". I'm concerned about what we're living with/breathing in in the meantime. Hopefully things will get better, as we're getting into winter and the wood heat will dry things out. But I really want to understand just how much mold we're breathing in, and if it's something that's going to have any real negative effects on our health. None of us is obviously very sick from it, but we do have allergies, and I do notice my throat burning if I stay too long in certain areas of the house, etc... None of that can be good. Not sure if that is something that a home performance contractor would be able to do?
Again - I imagine I've missed some things - I'll have to read through it all again. But thanks!