QUESTION from email@example.com on 4/9/2008:
Window wells/1970's home/damp basement issues/window wells have 3 to 4 inchs of gravel in them/why is it there and would I improve conditions by removing the gravel?
ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 4/9/2008:
The gravel is there to help provide drainage of water away from your basement window. If this area had dirt or grass instead, then the water would sit there and the moisture would be around your window frame, etc. With the gravel there, the water flows through, and then this area dries out much quicker.
But if your problem is a damp basement, there maybe other things that you might want to consider to help keep water away from your foundation / basement, such as:
1) Window well covers: Here is a picture of a window well cover (http://icwdm.org/Images/equipment/Exclusion/windowwellcoverweb.jpg). They can be made of plastic and are relatively inexpensive. If you get a clear plastic one, it will still allow light to come through your basement window. This cover will help keep water away from your windown well and the foundation in this area.
2) Rain gutters: Maintain the gutters each spring to repair damage from snow loads and each fall to clean out leaves and debris. Add extensions to downspouts to take roof run-off water 10 ft. (min. 4 ft.) away from the foundation. Install splash blocks.
3) Grading: The soil should slope away from the house on all sides of the foundation one inch per foot for 10 ft. (min. 4 ft.). You may need a truckload of soil. Old concrete walkways, driveways or patios that slope toward the foundation should be replaced.
4) Grass: Remove flower beds, vegetable gardens, bushes and trees from around the foundations and seed the area with grass.
5) Curtain drains: Excavate a trench alongside the house and fill it with gravel to stop surface water from getting to the foundation. French drain with a perforated PVC pipe in the gravel takes surface water away from the house.
Other things beyond this can also include adding dry wells for rainwater and exterior footing drains.
Hope this is helpful.
QUESTION from Mdaoui@comcast.net on 4/12/2008:
Thanks Great Wizard for helpful ANSWER about gravel in window wells. If my small 3x20 foot entry walk garden/situated between concret walk way and exterior wall must go, would local native grasses be just as good as that short green stuff? All other suggestions were in place with exception of this walkway and small garden. Once garden comes out, intend to use curtain drain system in this area, trying to avoid removing concret walkway. Is this a project weekend warriors can handle? I really appreciate the extra details in response to question. Thank you. I will be back. MDaoui
ANSWER from Home-Wizard on 4/12/2008:
Regarding planting native grasses versus the "short green stuff" near your foundation, one thing that you will want to be careful is that the grasses do not grow high enough to touch any wood on your house. Otherwise this could form a pathway for pests and moisture to enter your house.
And regarding installing a "curtain drain", here is a webpage that has a good drawing for how to install a curtain drain:
From this page, hopefully you will be able to tell if this is the kind of job that you would like to tackle yourself. If you do decide to do it yourself, be sure to install sufficient pitch on the perforated to ensure drainage and that water doesn't end up sitting in the pipe.
Hope this is helpful.
QUESTION from fredgervasi on 10/14/2007
My painter removed the 2 windows and 1 screen insert from each of my storm windows. In what order do I put them back in.
ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM ON 10/14/2007
There are actually quite a few styles of storm windows: interior, exterior, combination (which can be either double-track or triple-track), etc. From your description in your question, its a little difficult to tell exactly which style of storm window that you have. But with this said let me do the best I can to answer your question.
It sounds like you have a "combination" style storm window. There are a couple of things that you will want to think about as you reassemble you storm windows. First, you will want to take this opportunity to clean and inspect your storm windows, and especially the tracks that the storm window and screens slide up and down in. You will want to check the screens for any holes or tears. You will want to clean the sash. You will also want to clean the tracks and lubricate them with a light oil like "WD-40". And you will also want to unclog the vents that let water run out at the bottom (you can unclog these vents with a toothpick, awl, or ice pick).
Secondly, the important thing in re-assembling the windows and screen, is that they are placed into the correct tracks. That is, if the tracks that they are put in are not the right sizes for the window or screen, then they will not slide up and down correctly.
Since you mentioned that you had two windows and one screen insert, then I am guessing that you have a "triple-track" storm window. For these, typically the access to the sashes is from inside of the house, through the open main window. The outside and middle tracks contain window panes which can be slid up and down. The innermost track contains the screen which can also be slid up and down. And this would be the order that you would want to re-install the windows and screens.
If doesn't help you, then please send us a follow-up question with some more information about what particular type of storm windows that you have. And this could help us to give you a better answer.
QUESTION from Martin on 8/9/2009
What causes condensation on windows in the winter. This ruined the finish on my window frame.
ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 8/10/2009
In the winter, condensation can form on the inside of windows when humid air inside of your house comes in contact with the cold surface of your windows. Technically, this is because the window surface is below the "dew point" of the air near the window. The "dew point" is the temperature at which the water vapor in the air becomes saturated and condensation begins.
Basically there are two ways to prevent condensation on your windows from happening in the winter. The first is to reduce the relative humidity in the house, and the second is to increase the temperature of the window glass.
Reducing the relative humidity is usually the most effective way of reducing window condensation. To reduce the relative humidity of your home, make sure that exhaust fans, such as in your bathroom, kitchen and clothes dryers are vented properly and in good working condition. You may even need to run them longer than you ordinarily would, so as to more completely drying out these areas. Proper venting is important because today's homes have been insulated so well that without the use of these exhaust vents, there is no way for excess moisture to escape your house. In addition, you can reduce the relative humidity of your home in the winter by controlling other sources of humidity, such as from fish tanks or from having numerous house plants. To be effective, the relative humidity needs to be dropped to a minimum of 40%.
Increasing the temperature of your windows is another potential way of solving winter window condensation problems. For example, make sure window curtains and blinds are opened during the day to let in sun and to also allow air movement to help dry out the area around your windows. By opening curtains and blinds you're also allowing the warmer air from the room to warm up the window.
If you take these steps and have good quality windows, you should be able to eliminate your winter window condensation problems.
For additional information about , here are some good webpages:
Hope this is helpful.