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Rogue
14-03-2013, 10:23 PM
I've had to change plans for a number of reasons and I'm now working on the basement to make it usable. This solves a number of important problems in terms of access and weight (not really a problem for a basement, compared to the original attic location!)

It's a standard Victorian-ish end terrace with the old coal chute partly open for ventilation, leading directly to the pavement outside the house. Some very minor water entry through the gap that I should be able to tackle, though as it provides ventilation under the floorboards I won't seek to block it. The basement, though neglected and cruddy, seems fairly dry and doesn't have any smell of damp that would concern me. The floor appears to be concrete and there is electrickery available.

My plans have always included a completely over-the-top enclosure to keep the noise levels down as far as possible while still shifting heat away safely. This will become more important now as the living room is directly above.

To my mind currently, the biggest (or smallest) problem is that the height from floor to the bottom of the joists is approx 170cm - while I'm approx 185cm tall :numbness: I'm planning on having everything at a good height for working seated!

So, my questions are;

What concerns should I have about keeping machinery and electronics in this environment? What steps could I take to keep them in good shape?
My original enclosure plans relied on MDF for density, is MDF likely to have a problem in this kind of environment?
Is it safe to just slap a layer of paint onto a basement wall or do they have to be dealt with differently? Do they need to "breathe" or whatever it is walls need to do underground?
How do everything as cheaply as possible!


Any and all suggestions gratefully received! If there's a question that you think I should have asked but haven't, please feel free to answer it anyway :)

8466

The Chute


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The middle section taken from near the stairs
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The far right section taken from near the bottom right corner

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Edit to add: How the heck do you get rid of the unwanted attached thumbnails?

Jonathan
14-03-2013, 10:41 PM
1) Ideally in a workshop you keep the temperature above 5 celsius, as that stops condensation and you leave a de-humidifier running to remove the water from the air to ensure you don't get condensation on colder metal surfaces, leading to rust. Since your room is ventilated that could be difficult, or at least very inefficient.

Rogue
14-03-2013, 10:56 PM
1) Ideally in a workshop you keep the temperature above 5 celsius, as that stops condensation and you leave a de-humidifier running to remove the water from the air to ensure you don't get condensation on colder metal surfaces, leading to rust. Since your room is ventilated that could be difficult, or at least very inefficient.

But as it forms part of the house (the living room is seperated literally by floorboards and carpet) is it as likely to drop that much in temperature compared to a seperate building like a shed? This is one of the things I'm wondering.

By the way I was hoping to give you a chunk of my money last year, Jonathan. Unfortunately I had to give it all to the roofers to fix what turns out to be a DIY-dormer job by a previous owner that led to the ceiling in our bedroom coming down! Part of the reason why I'm moving down the project down to the basement in fact :o I hope you managed to find plenty of beer money anyway!

Edited to add: Come to think of it, as the equipment will be in an enclosure that is airtight enough to reduce sound transmission, I guess the baffled airducts could be closed when not in use and a dessicant left in the enclosure. Hmm.

Treemonkey
15-03-2013, 09:25 AM
I have the exact same problem! Although my cellar has a brick floor and there has been flooding before. It's been a massive job...

Firstly the walls were covered in some impermeable paint which was allowing moisture to build up behind it, causing condensation on the walls. I have spent several weekends removing the paint, and the room has dried out considerably. Next job (still ongoing) is lime washing the walls, done a few coats this helps the masonry breathe properly it takes 4+ coats for a decent finish.

Also before getting to the brick floor it was originally covered in 3-4 inches of mud / wood which had disintegrated which needed digging out... I've scraped out between individual bricks and will be brushing mortar between them over the weekend. When I inherited the cellar all the vents were blocked so It is still drying out in places. I may need to add a pump at some point in the future, in case of flooding.

There is a problem with condensation although any tools hung up are fine, just anything on the floor when picked up has water droplets on it.

So I can recommend lime washing your walls!

Rogue
15-03-2013, 10:39 AM
...Firstly the walls were covered in some impermeable paint which was allowing moisture to build up behind it, causing condensation on the walls. I have spent several weekends removing the paint, and the room has dried out considerably. Next job (still ongoing) is lime washing the walls, done a few coats this helps the masonry breathe properly it takes 4+ coats for a decent finish.
...
So I can recommend lime washing your walls!

Ahh, I had heard comments made elsewhere about moisture issues and paint. So I take it that the key is to use a paint that can let the moisture pass through? 4 coats of limewash should take up a few months but it's all for a good cause and at least my time is free :D

Treemonkey
15-03-2013, 01:19 PM
Yep lime wash is breathable and white so good for lighting :P

Before in the dryer part of the my room you could feel moisture on the walls around 4-5 feet up, now the worst wall (external one) only feels damp at the bottom 1-2 feet but it is improving. I think when there is a couple more coats of lime wash it will spread the moisture out so with some extra ventilation / air circulation I hope it will improve.

By the looks of your pics the walls have the white flakey stuff efflorescense so its probably best to go for a breathable paint.

I am also pondering making a simple air heat exchanger for the vents to help improve the temperature, that will likely be a job for next autumn/winter.

WandrinAndy
15-03-2013, 02:09 PM
To my mind currently, the biggest (or smallest) problem is that the height from floor to the bottom of the joists is approx 170cm - while I'm approx 185cm tall I'm planning on having everything at a good height for working seated!
I can't help thinking that you will have to don a crash-helmet before going down there.... I know that I would.:wink:

Rogue
15-03-2013, 02:12 PM
By the looks of your pics the walls have the white flakey stuff efflorescense so its probably best to go for a breathable paint.

I gave the whole thing a quick once-over with a stiff brush and cleared the detritus from the vent, even that little bit of work makes a heck of a difference! There is some very clear efflorescence on part of one wall (just the top part though, the bottom part looks very clean. A lot of the white stuff appears to be some kind of flaking paint, it's almost like it was given a very light wash of something.

Thanks to the many fine suggestions from people both here and in PM! This shouldn't take me more than four or five years to complete :)

Rogue
15-03-2013, 02:15 PM
I can't help thinking that you will have to don a crash-helmet before going down there.... I know that I would.:wink:

I've already taken a few good knocks today. I'm used to it though - the old workspace had sloping roofs and two bloody great beams at exactly the wrong height. I kept forgetting they were there and walking into them. I think I actually knocked myself out once...

Swarfing
15-03-2013, 06:59 PM
I used to srt a lot of this stuff out in a past life. To save you a ton of hassle i tank the whole lot out. You have signs of moisture on those walls and they will bite you later. In terms of ventilation, i will assume you have modern central heating in the house. You can minimise that a bit and get away with a couple of air bricks either end of the house. The breathable membrane is this stuff

Tanking Membrane 20m | Twistfix (http://www.twistfix.co.uk/tanking-membrane?gclid=CJ-169ey_7UCFUvHtAodeDYADw)

you can use silver sided plasterboard straight over the top in battens and some thin insulation behind it. As for the floor above i would go for some insulation in between the joists and plasterboard over the top of that. The floor could be quite expensive if you want a good job done where you will need an epoxy dpm once you key the surface which would allow you to use a waterproof latex based leveling compound which you can add any type of covering you like.

Hope this helps

Rogue
15-03-2013, 08:06 PM
I used to srt a lot of this stuff out in a past life. To save you a ton of hassle i tank the whole lot out. You have signs of moisture on those walls and they will bite you later. In terms of ventilation, i will assume you have modern central heating in the house. You can minimise that a bit and get away with a couple of air bricks either end of the house. The breathable membrane is this stuff
...
Once I managed to stop staring at your avatar, the rest of the post was very helpful :joker:

"Modern" is relative; when the British Gas guys do their annual check up on the boiler they ask if they can send the younger engineers around to see a "rare old classic that they can't believe is still running."

The basement does not extend under the entire house so airbricks would only be viable for the front wall, making unassisted airflow through the basement problematical I guess. Interestingly, the "major" efflorescense was confined to a small area at the back of the basement, which lines up with where the front room (wooden floor) ends and the back room (concrete floor) begins.

A chat with someone earlier reminded me of the following information that may or may not be useful.

First, the three houses at this end of the terrace have some kind of ventilation link through their basements that seems to be by design, possibly to compensate for the lack of front-to-back in the individual basements? The house two doors down had a fire recently and when it was put out the firefighters positively pressurised their basement to force the remaining smoke out, causing it to escape out of the basement vents in front of all three houses.

Second, the neighbour had an issue with a burst waterpipe that flooded all three basements (up to about a foot) roughly two years ago. It was resolved and the water pumped out, but nothing else was done at the time.

It looks like there was some ceiling in the basement at some stage - in fact the rafters/joists/whatever they are called are full of nails that need come out before I impale myself. Putting in the ceiling/floor insulation and putting up plasterboard should be within my ability. Skimming it might be an education, though! My concern was a comment I heard elsewhere that you needed to let air get to the floor. I have no idea why and bow to greater wisdom (ie you lot).

Another point I've realised is that our gas and electric come in through the basement so any work will have to be done around these. Not sure if that's something to pass on to a contractor for my own safety and my wife's stress levels!

My inspiration comes from looking down into the basement and thinking "I wonder if I could fit an X3 down those steps?" :whistle:

8477

Swarfing
15-03-2013, 08:23 PM
I think the fact you are going to make it a usable space will make a huge difference. As for the sealing of the floor that is not an issue, thats why they have DPM :-). If you are worried about ventilation, stick some rads in, put some vents in the floor to equalise the moisture and the good OLD modern heating will sort the rest out. Forget plastering just caulk and tape the joints, a bit of sanding and your done. Insulating between the beams go for 50mm so you have useful joist still that you can hang things up in. I reckon you could get an X4 size machine down there no probs.

Rogue
15-03-2013, 08:52 PM
I think the fact you are going to make it a usable space will make a huge difference. As for the sealing of the floor that is not an issue, thats why they have DPM :-). If you are worried about ventilation, stick some rads in, put some vents in the floor to equalise the moisture and the good OLD modern heating will sort the rest out. Forget plastering just caulk and tape the joints, a bit of sanding and your done. Insulating between the beams go for 50mm so you have useful joist still that you can hang things up in. I reckon you could get an X4 size machine down there no probs.

I noticed that with the attic, the atmosphere changed massively once we got it back into use.

My wife is still complaining that the whole house now smells like basement after I had the door open for a few hours today, hopefully with cleaning it out, regular use and fresh air that should change. I said earlier there was no noticeable smell suggesting damp - it turns out that all those years of chainsmoking clearly did kill my sense of smell because the wife clearly disagrees with my assessment!

Now, what do you mean by "rads" and vents in the floor? Are you suggesting venting through the floorboards into the front room?


This is a rough side view for visualisation, it might help my ramblings make a bit more sense!

8478

Edited to add: X4? If I was flush enough to throw money at one of those I'd have enough to just pay a builder to come and do it for me :joker:

Swarfing
15-03-2013, 09:41 PM
I see what you mean about venting into the lounge, swarf smell does not go down to great.

rad = radiator

Just work with what you got, street side will be fine. You could look for a one way vent to keep the wind blowing in and put a vent in the access door. The place would never be so warm :-)

Rogue
15-03-2013, 11:44 PM
I see what you mean about venting into the lounge, swarf smell does not go down to great.

rad = radiator

Just work with what you got, street side will be fine. You could look for a one way vent to keep the wind blowing in and put a vent in the access door. The place would never be so warm :-)

Now there's a blindingly obvious idea that didn't occur to me - vent on the basement door! Then it's just a matter of ensuring that air is mostly going through in the direction we want. It would also make tackling the (alleged) smell very important.

Taking control of that flipping great hole is in line with some other really helpful suggestions I was given, along with possibly using a bathroom vent-type fan.

So, it seems as if step one will be scrubbing the place out and putting together some kind of vent arrangement for that hole in the wall to keep the outside air "outside". It has been suggested that repointing might be a good idea, I assume that holds true whatever steps two onwards might be. That means step one needs to include getting rid of the random paint application!

If that makes the place a bit more palatable then I can convince the wife to let me move to step two!

Swarfing
16-03-2013, 12:08 AM
meant to say "stop the wind from blowing in". I have to be honest, i don't know what is but i've always wanted a basement.

Rogue
16-03-2013, 12:46 AM
meant to say "stop the wind from blowing in". I have to be honest, i don't know what is but i've always wanted a basement.

You are more than welcome to take mine if you can replace it with a decent brick workshop!

Rogue
28-03-2013, 01:50 PM
Given the weather I've not thrown myself fully into this; somehow I get the feeling the middle of a snowpocalypse isn't the time for airing and cleaning basements.

At this stage I'm not going to touch tanking. After thinking about it and re-reading through some of these posts, my plan is to clean it, limit the external vent to keep the cold air out, add some insulation in the ceiling to keep warm air in and give the walls a few layers of limewash. This will most likely be coupled with some dehumidification system once the external vent is sorted. Some heating facility would probably be a good idea too, though it would be nice if it isn't needed!

I'm currently attacking a corner to test out the process while I'm waiting for better weather. A bit of light elbow grease brings me down to red brick but there still seems to be the remains of paint or something that doesn't shift. Lightly chipping with something sharp doesn't seem to elicit much of a response. I guess it doesn't help that the surface is very rough so it is difficult to try and scrape under the crud to shift it.

I want to get rid of this without damaging the brick, cleaning it back fully so that is can be painted later with limewash.

8563

Some of it almost looks... cementlike. Grey, solid, doesn't respond to scrubbing. The white stuff visible here is the paint or whatever it is that I'm also trying to shift.

8564

Is this just a matter of scrubbing harder with wire brush or is there a smarter way to approach this? Or do I even need to do this? I'm assuming that I do, but then again I assume a lot of things :pirate:

D.C.
28-03-2013, 02:29 PM
That looks more like rust, is that a rsg at the top of the wall? As long as you get all the loose crap off you should be ok to stick a few coats on top without any problems, if you spend weeks wire brushing the crap out of the brickwork you will just damage the bricks. You might want to google 'wirebrush brick' before you go any further it is pretty much universally condemned. Just using a hard yard broom and then a soft floor broom then a good hoovering should get rid most of the crap use a scraper to get rid anything flaking off. Anything that doesn't shift after that is probably going to rip chunks of the brick surface off if you try to remove it so just let it be. If you have any mould/fungal growth give the place a good nuking and then stick an antifungal undercoat on.

Might also want to get the dehumidifier in and give the beam a bit of tlc, steel is much better at holding up your house than rust.

Rogue
28-03-2013, 03:50 PM
That looks more like rust, is that a rsg at the top of the wall?

It's wood throughout (or at least I can't see any metal) so I hope it's not rusty :joker:


As long as you get all the loose crap off you should be ok to stick a few coats on top without any problems, if you spend weeks wire brushing the crap out of the brickwork you will just damage the bricks ... Anything that doesn't shift after that is probably going to rip chunks of the brick surface off if you try to remove it so just let it be.

Sounds sensible, I was just concerned about leaving something on the walls that wouldn't work with my "breathable wall" approach (hence wanting to clean back to redbrick and then limewash). Of course, "intact brick" is probably more important!


If you have any mould/fungal growth give the place a good nuking and then stick an antifungal undercoat on.

I've got some kind of 3-in-1 mould killer (Polycell or something) from a different project, I was thinking that a dose of that would be a good idea. As far as I can establish, limewash is antifungal anyway as well as allowing moisture to pass through.


Might also want to get the dehumidifier in and give the beam a bit of tlc, steel is much better at holding up your house than rust.

Dehumidifying is part of the plan though not until the weather improves and I sort the external vent, otherwise I'll just be trying to dehumidify the street outside the house.

As an ongoing thing I was also thinking about keeping one or two of those passive dehumidifiers (glorified boxes of gypsum or similar) down there to keep on top of the moisture in the air. Does anyone have any experience with those?

Swarfing
28-03-2013, 05:07 PM
Rouge if you drop some pipes down and add a couple of radiators you might find that is all you need to clear any damp up? Going for the lime wash look over the natural surface will give a nice cottage feel down there and look rather good. Still treat the walls for fungal first with stiff brush. Assuming you have neighbors then the only real problem walls will be the front and back ones. Once it is all in use i don't think you would ever notice it again.

D.C.
28-03-2013, 05:45 PM
It's wood throughout (or at least I can't see any metal) so I hope it's not rusty :joker:
As an ongoing thing I was also thinking about keeping one or two of those passive dehumidifiers (glorified boxes of gypsum or similar) down there to keep on top of the moisture in the air. Does anyone have any experience with those?

My crappy eyesight then!

I've only ever used the big hot air ones, they work a treat but cost a small fortune to run.

Rogue
28-03-2013, 09:38 PM
Rouge if you drop some pipes down and add a couple of radiators you might find that is all you need to clear any damp up? Going for the lime wash look over the natural surface will give a nice cottage feel down there and look rather good.

There is zero hope in hell that my wife will let me near the plumbing or heating (and admittedly with good reason). Plumbers don't tend to be the cheapest of people to hire so I was thinking along the lines of a small electric heater to run every now and then.

I'm not so concerned about the "cottage feel", but I reckon it will help make the place much lighter and less oppressive.