Basement Repair Advice


Old 02-10-19, 03:27 PM
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Question Basement Repair Advice

Evening All,

We are just cleaning up after a pipe burst in our finished basement and looking for some direction and advice on how to proceed. The short of it is I took about 8" of drywall, rigid foam insulation, and vapor barrier out around the perimeter of the room and ripped up the damaged laminate flooring (vapor barrier under the floor as well). Normally I would just restore the room based off existing construction, but after doing some research I'm a little concerned with that approach.

Our wall composition is 5/8" drywall + 6mil poly + 1-1/2" studs fastened directly to CMU block. In between the studs is 1" Styrofoam. Everything I have been reading says not to have a vapor barrier in a basement below grade. I can't tell for sure if the poly is being used as a vapor barrier or simply holding the foam in place. Wood stud nailers in the CMU are run directly to the floor which I intend on cutting about 1-2" above the floor. The existing drywall was also in direct contact with the slab, which I will be holding up about 1" or so.

I will say that aside from some rusty fasteners the wood studs and material behind the drywall was in pretty good shape. I did, however have one stud that was rotted out beyond the poly which I will need to replace. I have no idea how it got that bad, but the rot stopped about 18" below the ceiling. Perhaps the 1/2" gap between drywall and foam is allowing air flow to some?

I was debating a couple of different approaches:

1) Restore the room using same materials and procedures as the original construction tying in a new vapor barrier to the existing.
A) install floor vapor barrier
B) Leave floor vapor barrier out.

2) Install everything the way it was but skip the poly on the new 8-12" strip of drywall along the floor trying to negate what's in there. Install floor vapor barrier on floor and run about 2" up the drywall before installing baseboard.

3) Install everything the way it was before, but tying in the floor barrier to the wall barrier before installing drywall. Not sure this is advisable though.

A couple of questions: Is the floor barrier doing more harm in this instance?

I'm considering using DRIcore sub-flooring with laminate or instead of laminate going with LVT and a vapor barrier this go around.

I've attached a few photos of the basement as it is now. I appreciate any help and thanks for your time !
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Old 02-10-19, 03:40 PM
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First off, finished basements should have electrical in the walls that is run according to current electrical codes. You can't really do that very well with 2x2's because the wires won't likely be far enough back and protected. And you will likely need far more outlets than what you currently have/had.

Secondly, wood contacting concrete must be pressure treated. The poly that was on your walls probably helped more as an air barrier than anything. Putting holes in concrete blocks is often just asking for problems. Water that gets in the hollow cores can leak out anywhere there is a penetration.

IMO its almost always better to frame standard 2x4 walls spaced 1/2-1" away from the concrete. Use standard insulation with no vapor barrier below grade. Optional foam behind the wall helps your R-value and is necessary to meet minimum basement R-values in many places.

As for your floor covering, yes, you need a vapor barrier if you want to install laminate in a basement. You need to read and follow your flooring directions, assuming they allow basement (below grade) installs.
Old 02-10-19, 04:02 PM
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Thanks for the reply. While I can't speak to the existing wiring, I believe it's dropped from the ceiling and not run horizontally outlet to outlet. I can see this if I remove the recessed can. I have no idea if it's in any sort of conduit within the wall though.

While I would love to rip out the existing wall and do it "right" so to speak, it's just not in the budget to do that right now. So I'm stuck with modifying the existing construction or improving it best I can.

For what it's worth the room is 20' x 12'. Only the long exterior wall and wall under the egress window has poly on it. The back 12' wall does not.

Also I should mention I'm in Western PA about 30 min north of Pittsburgh to give you an idea of zone.
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