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GSBN:Danny Buck's SB water problem

Danny Buck wrote:

I have been called in to look at a house . . .

3. We are expecting to tear out straw, wherever it is wet. I believe it will
be difficult but doable in spite of all of the concrete. I am thinking that
we can get some drying once the walls are opened up, but doubt that we can
expect to really dry more than a few inches from the surface. Can we dry
deeper than that? What parameters shoud we use in deciding how much straw to
extract? When the moisture meter hits concrete in wet areas, the concrete is
as wet or wetter than the bales.

4. Once straw is pulled out, with the concrete grid still in place, what can
we possibly refill the walls with?. The moisture tends towards the outside
of the walls, so we are hoping to keep the interior surfaces intact and just
work from the outside.When refilling the walls, we want to keep moisture to
a minimum, so straw clay or other poured or puddled materials seem unlikely.
I do not see how to use straw realistically- would that be possible? We are
going into winter here.

Danny -

I recently had an unnoticed, 2nd story, major plumbing leak dump several
hundred gallons of water directly onto a fully plastered north wall -- it
was only discovered when water was seen squishing out from the base of
plaster inside & out.  That was early June;  I had them sawcut the
lime-cement plaster off the outside in strips along the worst areas, hoping
the onset of summer weather would save us (it never rains here after May).

It didn't save us.  Moisture readings in the dense rice bales hardly changed
after a week, or in three weeks.  At best we had some surficial drying, but
even pulling all the outside plaster off that entire area didn't hasten
drying enough.  So, I ended up personally pulling about five bales worth of
still fully soaked (but not quite yet funky smelling) straw out of the wall
to the backside of the very nice interior plaster.

My guess is that you just can't dry out hundreds of gallons by drying/vapor
transmission.  A few gallons, yes (as others' posts, and my own prior
experiences, have intimated).  So it becomes a judgement call to make as to
whether you think you can hasten drying enough so as to avert trouble, or
need to go in and yank the wet straw.

In our case, as this area would always be under the bathtub that leaked, and
was also next to another ground floor bathroom, we opted to build a 2x4
infill wall with plywood along the outside surface to patch the hole, and
then blew the cavity full of loose fiberglass insulation.

Good luck!

Bruce King, PE
Director, Ecological Building Network
209 Caledonia St.
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 331-7630
fax 332-4072
bruce@ ecobuildnetwork.org

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