Advice regarding Cellar treatment and ventilation

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Hi,

I am looking to spruce up the cellar of my circa 1900 victorian stone terrace. I've been in the property for 4 years, and over time, the problem of damp in the cellar has increased.

The cellar is only partially underground and has a window. It already has a plumbing point, and I wish to use it as a utility (placing the washing machine down there) and for storage. However, I am hoping to get some ideas as to reducing the moisture levels and make it more presentable. I'm hoping not to spend a fortune. As the height is only 6ft, I understand adding a membrane would require digging down to allow enough headroom, and would make the whole venture more costly. I've provided some pictures to give an idea of it's condition.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/grimaldinho/sets/72157627461995106/

The walls appear to coated with limewash, which is flaking away in a number of places. I've read that an appropriate paint can be used to paint over the limewash or I could re-limewash the walls.

The floor is untreated and prone to mould at present (see photos) with damp patches. What could I use to clear the mould (Jeyes fluid?) and what might be an appropriate breathable coating for the floor? A paint which discourages mould might be useful too.

Finally, as I wish to use the cellar for storage, I was thinking I need to improve ventilation and reduce the moisture levels. One idea I've had is to install a dehumidifier on the external wall. It would be at a suitable height to drain to the outside drain. Bearing in mind the state of the cellar at the moment, does this seem like a sensible course of action, or will it be an expensive mistake, perhaps needing to be running permanently to keep moisture to an acceptable level? There is scope to improve natural ventilation (window open and I will soon have a space where an old boiler was), but I'm unconvinced of whether it would be enough to reduce the damp.

Any ideas for solutions welcome. I guess the key thing is that I'm not planning on turning it into a habitable room: I just want it to be a less damp, nicer looking room which could be used for storage. Also, I don't plan on staying in the house forever, so I'm not looking to spend a fortune.

Thanks for reading.
 
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A couple of times you say "don't want to spend a fortune ". Is your budget measured in hundreds or thousands ? Will you be doing the work or a professional ?

I think your humidifier idea is not worth pursuing as it would be running permanentlyand the walls would likely retain/regain their dampness . Designed for "one-off" type damp such as a flood.
 
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Thanks for the feedback. I'm looking to do the work myself at the moment. Ideally I'd like to use the room as a utility. In terms of not wanting to spend a fortune, the cellar is quite small so I'm not convinced it would represent value for money to spend too much. It is approximately 3m x 4m, with a wall from the old coal chute breaking up the floor space.

I'd say my budget is a maximum of £700. To tank the cellar, I'd certainly need to dig down a little to increase the headroom (currently 6'2) and spend a lot more than that! But, could anyone tell me how much more? I also assume that digging down would need building regs approval etc.

The simple route - I guess - would be to improve ventillation and recoat the walls and floor with a breathable paint (the original limewash has come loose in many places) or re-limewash. I have removed a disused boiler which could provides a potential air vent to improve the ventilation

I've seen a few examples of cellarpaint (Dulux Mouldshield etc). Does anyone know whether they are breathable and suitable for an old Victorian cellar?
 
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To tank the cellar, I'd certainly need to dig down a little to increase the headroom (currently 6'2) and spend a lot more than that!
Why do you say you need to dig down to tank it? Tanking the floor & walls is really the only way you’re going to eliminate damp. Paint is not going to work very well IMOl & trying to dehumidify an inherently damp cellar is going to be pointless.
 
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Rich,

Thanks for the reply. I am a newbie to all of this. I was of the understanding that the process of tanking (membrane + cement) would result in losing a fair amount of headroom. Is this is incorrect? Any idea how much headroom would be lost?
 
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For £700, you won't achieve much, if anything.
Best option is to nail the door shut and not go down there again. Spend the £700 on something else.

Probably not what you wanted, but in reality, all cellars are damp and removing that damp is very expensive and time consuming.
 
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You will not solve damp cellar problems on your budget, but you should be able to get some use out of it.

Ventilation is a major factor. Keeping the cellar clean will help, since mould smells and will make it seem more obviously damp.

Building a low level thrall to mount your washing machine on will remove it from contact with the damp floor. Use blue bricks and 1:3 cement mortar, finish with either with the blues themselves or perhaps a quarry tile.

Certainly scrub down the walls and give them a coat of limewash. Scrub the floors as well.

Do not place items in direct contact with the walls or floor.

I actually lived in a pub for almost 20 years from a very young age and did most of the heavy cellar work from middle teenage years. Yes it was cool and damp down there, but there was absolutely no problem in making good use of the space on an everyday basis (much to the satisfaction of our customers ;) ). You simply need to observe its limitations.
 

HH1

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Would a liquid DPM be useful here?
Along with a latex levelling product for the floor.

Liquid dpm for the walls also?
I suppose it is raising another question regarding the walls "breathing".

For the floor a liquid DPM along with the levelling product, both available from Wickes, would raise the floor only an inch or two.
Perhaps someone on the forum has used this method before?
 
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Thanks again for the feedback. Some really sensible suggestions.

HH1 -Regarding the Wickes bitumen based DPM, that is something I hadn't considered. Am I right in thinking this would be moisture proof, but would require a skim of concrete/latex leveller over the top? Also, as a pump is not being used in the system, is there a danger the would moisture just find it's way somewhere else?

Blagard - Thanks for the very practical ideas. I can improve the ventilation (I have a vent from a disused boiler I've just ripped out) and am planning to scrape down the walls and give it a good clean. Encouraging to hear that the space is not a total right off.
 
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Have not done this myself, therefore just repeating previous info ( from well-regarded posters).

Not possible to retro-damp-proof a cellar by applying coatings to the walls/floor as these will be forced off by hydrostatic pressure. Successful methods are adding a second water-proof skin and draining the penetrating water away between the wall and the skin.
 

HH1

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The wickes stuff is moisture proof, its marketed as such, to be used as a damp proof membrane.
Wickes recommend a cement screed over the top, not the latex stuff as previous post, the cement screed can be followed with the latex if required.
Yes, there is a danger of moisture getting around it, if there is a way it will probably find it.
The seal would have to continue up the wall by whatever method you end up using.
Was just highlighting a possible option for the floor.
 
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