Skip

How to deal with a really damp house.
June 16, 2014 6:40 PM   Subscribe

There is a lake under my house and we have a very serious damp issue. Thank goodness I don't own it but while we house hunt (to buy), we have to live with it. Looking for ways to cope.

It is Winter time here. I have a dehumidifier going 24/7 that sucks out about 5 litres of moisture each day, if I'm fastidious about emptying it out when it gets full.

It is the kind of dampness where I can't store a wooden rolling pin in the kitchen drawer without it growing mould after 2 days.

When I'm home all the windows are open for ventilation, even though it's cold.

Last year, we talked to our landlords about it, they installed a pump that pumps the water out from under the house - but it's set to go when the water reaches a certain level which to me means that there is never not going to be water underneath the house. They also painted some sort of coated something underneath so that I guess the floorboards don't rot. It took them about 4 months to pull this off, by which time it was Spring/Summer and things were fine. But now we're back to Winter and it's close to unbearable.

We've been house hunting for more than a few months now and are hopefully close to buying something (Sydney real estate is murder) but in the meantime, we're looking for ways to cope and keep the mould and damp at bay. Any great tips would be appreciated. I'm also newly knocked up and wondering how freaked out I should be about mould and sickness.
posted by mooza to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
More dehumidifiers? A couple in each room?

But really, this is gross and yes, it could make you sick.
posted by amaire at 6:41 PM on June 16


Sydney damp houses, how great aren't they. Good luck house hunting.

Clove oil is a more-or-less effective antifungal that I use a lot of in my house. A couple of drops in a mop bucket keeps the mould off tiles, and wiping it undiluted with a cloth seems to keep it off the wooden skirting boards and wallpaper surprisingly well. I don't know if splashing it about in the quantities I do would be good for pregnancy, but it's at least cheap.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:09 PM on June 16


5 liters is not very much water. Definitely get a larger dehumidifier that can hold more water, or better yet one that has a drain hose that you can run to a floor drain or sink. There are plenty of guides online that can help you determine the size you'll need based on how many square meters you want to dehumidify. Good luck and hope you dry out soon!
posted by orme at 7:33 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]


"...but it's set to go when the water reaches a certain level which to me means that there is never not going to be water underneath the house."

Yeah, that's otherewise know as a sump pump.

I live in the deep south of the US and the reaction to mould is more a matter of being allergic. It's not necessarily bad. You are breathing spores with every breath no matter where you live.

I would just invest in a dehumidifier.
posted by vapidave at 7:36 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia says that it hasn't snowed in Sydney since 1836, so this isn't being caused by an accumulation of snow like it might be where I am, and it looks like the amount of rainfall doesn't vary too radically from season to season; so is the problem worse in the winter because of the difference in temperature? Like, less evaporation? If so, could you rig up some way to heat and ventilate the area underneath the house and just bear higher heating costs for the weeks or months it takes you to find a new place?
posted by XMLicious at 8:56 PM on June 16


I have a house in Oregon with a damp basement, and the pacific northwest weather is somewhat similar to Sydney weather. The issues in winter are a combination wet weather and cool-but-not-freezing temperatures.
I've had some luck with a dehumidifier and a space heater. I added the space heater to keep the basement a little bit warmer, and to make it easier for the dehumidifier to extract moisture.
Beyond sealing the house from the water, which is probably not much of an option for renters, using a dehumidifier (or two) is about all you can do to deal with the dampness.

Fiasco, thanks for the tip about the clove oil. I will have to give it a try!
posted by Jefffurry at 10:54 PM on June 16


Last year, we talked to our landlords about it, they installed a pump that pumps the water out from under the house - but it's set to go when the water reaches a certain level which to me means that there is never not going to be water underneath the house. They also painted some sort of coated something underneath so that I guess the floorboards don't rot. It took them about 4 months to pull this off, by which time it was Spring/Summer and things were fine. But now we're back to Winter and it's close to unbearable.

If I were in your shoes I'd be raising it with the landlord again. If the house is still ridiculously damp, the pump needs to drop the water table more; that means its intake and water level sensor need to be set deeper below ground level.

There should only ever be standing water near the bottom of the small hole that the pump's intake hose (or the pump itself, if it's a submersible type) and water level sensor are in. You should not have a huge under-house lake, and the water table should not be close enough to the surface that you have permanently wet earth under there either.
posted by flabdablet at 1:29 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Set up your dehumidifier in the basement so it drains into the sump-pump; that way, you don't need to keep manually dumping it yourself. American model typically have a place at the bottom of the collection bucket that you can knock out and attach a hose- maybe yours does as well?

You can get the silica gel used in pill bottles, etc in bulk for cheap at home stores- maybe throw a satchel or two in drawers that are particularly bad in your kitchen?
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:32 AM on June 17


Crystal cat litter is bulk silica gel for cheap, and usually comes with color change crystals that let you know when it's soaked up as much moisture as it's going to.

You can re-activate silica gel by spreading it out flat on an oven tray and baking it at 120°C for an hour or so, then dumping it in a sealed metal biscuit tin to cool.
posted by flabdablet at 8:41 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


« Older I have a new shirt that smells...   |  Surprise! I'm going to a black... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments



Post