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Thread: A new Darkroom!

  1. #11
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Jun 1999
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    Everett, WA
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    2,969

    A new Darkroom!

    Yeah, but its not much of a dream darkroom when you wear waders! :-)

    The raised floor looks to be the best bet, but I wouldn't use Styrofoam, as that will compress and age. It would be better to use a non-compressible plastic product. Maybe use PVC pipe ends instead under the studs. Also remember to ventilate the space under the floor. Forced air would be best, as you wouldn't want water vapor to mess things up. Also you may occasionally want to clean the concrete, so factor in being able to pull up sections of the floor for cleaning.
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  2. #12
    Jim Ewins
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Seattle
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    390

    A new Darkroom!

    Jane , consider alum framing. The technique is a little different from wood but works well. A screw gun instead of a hammer. Use mointure resistant Wall board (green board). For the floor perhaps duck boards would do. (let the water flow).

  3. #13

    A new Darkroom!

    Brian "not much of a dream darkroom when you wear waders"

    On the contrary, with good humidity, dust isn't much of a problem ;-)

    I like the idea of PVC pipe stubs to support the walkway - they wont soak up water. I was going to use retired insulators (since I just happen to have a ready supply) but I also have a bunch of PVC pipe.

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    473

    A new Darkroom!

    As entertaining as this post is I hope you are not serious about this approach. Please tell me you're joking. I know you want to spend your money on photography but unless you do something about the water coming in you will be spending a lot more to repair your foundation because over time it will structurally fail. Think about it.....the grand canyon was cut with water. Also keep an eye open for that black mold.....a couple of deep breaths of those spores and you won't need to worry about a darkroom or a basement. Jane, fix it right before your basement walls start collapsing in. You may want to check with your insurance company. Your homeowners may cover a lot of the right repairs. Good luck and keep those electric cords up off of the floor.

  5. #15

    A new Darkroom!

    Listen to Robert.

    You're in for trouble with raised floors and all that water underneath - smell, rot, mold and mildew. And of course the weakening of the foundation as the water moves through it is bad. If its only wet for a few months then you could run sump pumps to keep it dry when needed. I'd vacate that area and add plenty of active ventilation if I were living there.

    If you can't fix the basement then build your darkroom in a new outbuilding next to your house. Proably cost less building new on top of the ground than trying to make your basement habitable.

  6. #16

    A new Darkroom!

    Robert: The land here is gravel. The movement of water in no way "errodes" anything. There are many foundations over 40 years old that are still fine. As the hydraulic contractor said, "We live in a river that just happens to be full of rocks."

    Mildew and mold is the main reason I have stripped the interior walls.

    I have been a designer in engineering and construction for 35 years and have some idea what I am doing but, since almost everybody is hung up on the water issue, lets just let this thread die. I'll post a picture of the darkroom when it's done.

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    473

    A new Darkroom!

    Jane, Seven years of college and 25 years building bridges, including a few superstructures that spanned bodies of moving water (rivers) All I can say is that your statement, "the movement of water in no way "errodes" anything", has a couple of my college professors turning in their grave. But hey like you said, you're the expert. I'm sorry I offered some advice and I'll make a note not to let it happen again. Good luck

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    473

    A new Darkroom!

    But before I write myself that note let me just add that you may want to consult a hydrologist who is much more qualified in the study of the properties, distribution, and the effects of water than a hydraulic contractor. Ok I'm done. Good luck in your endeavor.

  9. #19
    Scott Davis
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Washington DC
    Posts
    1,618

    A new Darkroom!

    Jane-

    as another wet basement victim, let me again recommend the exterior waterproofing with the drain tile. That was what had to be done to waterproof my basement, where my darkroom is. My situation is not too different than yours... when my neighborhood was developed back in the early 1900s, they buried an existing stream to free up surface land. My house is downhill from the origin of that stream. When we get heavy rain, the water table rises above the level of the footers of my foundation. Before my waterproofing job, every time it rained, I had a large puddle forming in my basement. In just a year, that amount of water showing up on a regular basis not only ruined the bottom 24" of drywall the whole way around with water stains, mold and mildew, but it also created a damp enough environment that I now have mold forming inside two of my enlarging lenses. I don't know about you, but I'm not rich enough to throw away El-Nikkors every two years.

    Have the basement sealed from outside - dig out the foundations, re-parge the outside (I think you'll be shocked when you do as to how much of the cement between the foundation blocks has dissolved), put up waterproofing tar, plastic barrier board, and then the gravel and drain tile. You don't have to run the drain tile very far to get good drainage. If your soil is as gravelly as you say, you may not even need the drain tile - just get the waterproofing done. My house is not large, but the bill was substantial because my house is surrounded on two sides by other people's property, and the hill behind me. To seal the rear, they had to tear out my concrete patio by hand, then excavate to the footers by hand. The side of the house that doesn't share a wall (I'm in a row house (aka townhouse) ) they were able to tackle with a backhoe. They also put in a drain system under the basement floor, which ended up costing me $12,000 USD. That's a Washington DC price, so you may find yours costs less, even with greater size, because of lower labor rates where you live.

    If you value your health, your equipment, and your negatives, do yourself the favor of having your foundations waterproofed. Don't do any construction inside (drywall, etc) before you have that water problem solved - you'll just end up redoing it every couple years, and shortly you'll have spent on basement renovations what you would have spent on the waterproofing.

  10. #20

    A new Darkroom!

    The foundation is poured concrete - nobody uses cement blocks in this part of the country.

    Water oozes in around the joint where the floor meets the walls. It also oozes in thru the floor wherever there is a joint (like where the footings for the jack-posts are) because the water not only moves horizontally but will also come up from underneath if it can. We are not talking about surface water that comes from rain falling on the ground, we are talking about an aquafer (sp?) that is fed by a large area of lower ground (about 3 square miles) to the west of me.

    That is why, in an earlier post, I stated that the only way to keep an excavated basement dry is to pump the WHOLE watertable down and that means lowering the watertable thru a substantial area (at least 1 square mile). That is why very large pumps are required to drain weeping tiles. The same aquafer provides the (high quality) water in my well and numerous other wells in my area. Lowering the water table would lower the water in my well as well as those of my neighbours.

    To the best of my knowledge, no one has sucessfully built a sealed basement under these conditions.

    As far as the health hazards, the growth of mould and mildew requires a biological food source in intimate contact with water, which is why I have stripped the conventionally constructed interior walls from the basement. Any new interior walls will NOT be in contact with the water or a wet floor.

    Gentlemen, I appreciate your concern but I have been studying this specific problem since 1997 and have consulted with a large number of knowledgable and experienced people who routinely deal with unusual construction, engineering, and hydrological situations. Though it is unconventional, I DO know what I am doing and I know that the probability of success is high enough to justify the effort.

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