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I live in Houston in a house with brick walls

cutebabyp8 | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

Hello. I live in Houston in a house with brick walls. We have a lot of issues with damp brick walls, mold and mildew. We are currently removing the interior walls to reinsulate them.

1. Can i water proof the exterior walls with sealer, prime them and…

Oops I placed all the questions above…
Money is tight…
We can not use the ac due to mold and need to clean the vents and ducts…diy since we can not pay for this.
we do not have carpet or any floor due to water intrusion…doing all the repairs myself

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  1. user-2310254 | | #1

    Trishia. When you look inside the wall cavity, do you see brick or sheathing? If you see sheathing, is it a solid sheet of material or individual boards? If it is a sheet of material, can you determine what material it is made out of?

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    [Editor's note: Pat Porras (a.k.a. Trishia) accidentally posted her question twice. Here is what she wrote the second time, in case there is useful information in the second post.]

    "Here i go again. Have several questions.... I live in Houston tx, in a all exterior wall are brick. We have issues with water intrusion, damp walls (exterior). 1) Can i water proof the exterior wall bricks, prime them and then paint them?

    2) Can i water proof the brick walls from the inside, either by spraying a sealant or using other material like tart??paper?
    Money is tight...
    3) What type of insulation should i use on the inside...(3 choices please).
    If foam is one of them can i spray that myself?
    4) if spray foam is applied can i seal the wipping holes for good?
    We can not use the ac due to mold and need to clean the vents and since we can not pay for this.
    we do not have carpet or any floor due to water intrusion...doing all the repairs myself

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    As Steve implied, we need to know a lot more information before we can give you advice.

    1. The most important question is: Is this a wood-framed home with brick veneer, or is this an older house with structural (multi-wythe) brick walls?

    2. The second most important question is: What evidence do you see that you have a moisture problem? Do you see puddles? Damp drywall? Mold? Something else?

  4. cutebabyp8 | | #4

    Hello! Thank you for your answers...
    When I removed the sheetrook there is a very old pink insulation sheets in between the wall cavities.
    When i removed the insulation what i see is solid brick..that is the back of the outside wall.
    I have the evidence of moisture because many of the insulation sheets have black mold, smells pretty damp and moldy...and so far i only removed one and half walls. The other clue is from the outside, where you can see like black patches (large) of damp/wet bricks even when we have several days of hot weather, green moss growing in several parts as well.
    On the floor of the master bedroom you can see dark patches were the slab is wet, even after I cleaned, scrapped all the paint, glue, dirt and then sealed. There is not water coming to the surface but you can see the wet dark patches.
    On the outside I checked the foundation for cracks but found nothing so i do not have a clue where the moisture is coming from.
    So my first priority is to fix the issues behind the walls, but i want to do it right....
    I think use a sealer on the outside, followed by primer and then paint. then on the inside, use a sealer (before that i want to apply a mold killer solution), the do the insulation.

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    Pat / Trishia,
    You probably need to hire a consultant who is familiar with old brick buildings.

    It sounds like this is an old building with structural brick walls (multi-wythe brick walls). You didn't mention what kind of foundation it has. If it has a slab-on-grade foundation, it's possible that there is no polyethylene vapor barrier under the slab.

    If my understanding is correct -- and it's important to recognize that you haven't told us enough about your house for a real diagnosis -- you may need to rebuild your roof to provide better roof overhangs. You may also need to change the grade of your yard so that the soil slopes away from your building on all sides. Finally, you may need to install a polyethylene vapor barrier on top of your concrete slab (if indeed that's the kind of foundation you have), followed by a layer of rigid foam and new flooring.

    But really, you need to get an expert on site to look at your building and provide advice.

  6. user-2310254 | | #6

    Pat/Trishia. At least for now, don't seal your brick (exterior or interior).

    It sounds like your home has a lot of moisture issues, and I agree with Martin that you should seek advice from an onsite expert before proceeding. If you are in the City of Houston, you may be able to take advantage of a energy remediation grant, such as RESIDENTIAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAM (REEP). See to learn more. If you are not in the city proper, there may be similar county or state programs offering free assessments and energy improvement upgrades.

    While such programs are certainly worth pursuing, they should be part of an overall strategy for remediating existing structural problems and improving home performance.

    From your description, it also sounds like you have extensive mold issues. Since mold can harm your health, consider following this link and learning more about proper remediation methods:

  7. cutebabyp8 | | #7

    Hello. Thank you again for your advice. After inspecting the wall late last night i found that there is sheeting against the wall...the first place i inspected (small cavity) is only the rest of the wall the big cavities have sheeting which seems to be glued to the brick, to the touch feels damp...but it is not crumbling....i need tor remove the rest of the sheetrotck in order to find the actual condition of the wall.
    I am a 60 year old female doing this by myself since i can not afford to pay anyone to do the demo....once all the demo is done...i will bring some help for things that i can not do...
    I will follow up with the efficiency program for sure. In regards to the mold i have researched the how to do the remediation and how to handle the mold...hence i have not removed the pink insulation until i can bring the fogging machine and the product to fog the affected area. I am not disturbing the mold, however i am using peroxide, vinegar, soap and water to clean up all over the things in plastic bags, and so on...there is not carpet, no flooring only concrete slab....and as soon as i see black spots or mildew forming it is taken care asap.
    The roof is only 8 years old and it is in very good condition. The problem is that here in Houston rains a lot that does not help to the poor brick.
    Outside walls....clean (power wash them), repairs has been done...apply sealer, apply primer and then paint.
    Inside walls...remove the sheetrok, remove the old insulation, fog the cavities and studs with mold retardant, let dry, do it two more times just in case, then do the insulation again (foam, pink insulation or ???, close the walls, fog the new walls, prime with primer and mold retardant...and done.
    Floor...clean again the slab...the entire house have concrete slab...use sealer, place cork that will be sealed on both one side, fog the top of the cork and then place the carpet on top of it.
    That is my plan....
    Experts cost a lot of money and hence that is why i am seeking your advice.
    Slab...i already sealed the cracks, cleaned and removed all the glue, paint, etc., cleaned and sealed. Took me a month and 1/e to do two rooms in my hands and knees...auch.

  8. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #8

    The problem is that all your work may be in vain if you don't address the basic issues that allow your walls to be soaked with rain, or the slab to be damp.

    Applying a sealer is unlikely to solve problems as serious as the ones you describe.

    This type of massive failure requires more fundamental remedies than clean-up and re-insulating, I'm afraid.

  9. cutebabyp8 | | #9

    Bummer...that means at least a 1000 dollars to bring the expert and do their is very very tight...
    What kind of expert do i need?...there are a lot of sharks lurking around the waters down here and one must be very very careful with whom you deal with...even "companies" so please tell me what type of expert do i need and what do i need to look 4 in order to know if this person is knowledgeable or trying to scam me.
    The other thing will be "patch" the issues, fix the walls and put the house for sale...something that i do not want to do at least for now...
    bummer bummer this is getting very complicated and scary.
    Thanks. Trishia

  10. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #10

    While it won't be as good as a site visit by an expert, you could get more advice here if you post photos of your house.

    Take photos of the exterior (especially the walls that get wet).

    Take photos of the roof overhangs.

    Take photos of the intersection of your yard and your house -- so we can see how the ground slopes.

    Take photos of the wall cavities that have been opened up.

    Take photos of water stains and mold.

    Share the photos by posting them here.

  11. cutebabyp8 | | #11

    Hi may sound stupid but how do i post pics here... I am not so literate in regards to computers....LOL

  12. user-2310254 | | #12

    To attach a photo or illustration, under the box labeled “More explanation,” look for the words “File attachments.” Click that, and you should be able to attach a photo.

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