House With Moisture Problem

Summary: Water must be kept away from a house as the first and most important step in preventing water and moisture problems in your home.


We have a bi-level (split level) house. It is 4 feet in the ground and 4 feet above.

It has rock on the outside wall on the 4 foot area above grade. The last couple of years I have had mildew in one corner of a bedroom at a 4 foot wall height.

I tore back Sheetrock® in that corner and mildew is everywhere.

The sheeting on the outside of the 2x6 walls between the rock veneer and 2x6 walls, is gone, rotted away.

The other corner bedroom is fine and middle bedroom is fine too. The rock is on 3 sides around the bi level part of house.

The wall construction consists of (from inside to out): Sheetrock®, plastic, installation between 2x6 walls, sheeting, Tyvek® paper, rock with mortar joints.

What happen? I really would appreciate any ideas on how to fix this.
Thank you for any input you might have...Rita E.

Hi Rita,

To answer your question, “what happened”, water is what happened.

Water has infiltrated the wall behind the rock veneer and done its dirty work, rot, mildew, and mold.

Water is the bane of all builders.

First of all, determine where and how the water is getting in the wall.

Most likely would be that the grade (dirt) adjacent to the wall has settled and is shedding ground water runoff towards the wall. This is usually the number 1 cause of water infiltration.

As I state in my books, water is the most powerful force in nature. It has shaped this planet. It will go where it wants to, but will take the path of least resistance, in this case, your wall.

So, fill in the low areas and grade the entire area so that water drains away from the house.

Absolutely NO part of the upper 4 feet of wall should be below grade.

Check your gutters to make sure that the downspouts are diverting water far enough away from your house too.

Get rid of the water problem before you repair the damage.

Unfortunately, you will have to remove some of your rock veneer to replace the sheeting.

Then replace the rotted sheeting and any rotted lumber. Then replace the mildewed drywall and insulation as they can’t be cleaned adequately, they are too porous.

Check with your homeowner’s insurance agent and see if your house is covered for this. It’s doubtful, but it’s worth a try.

The lower level of a split level home is exactly like a walkout basement. Read my Moisture in Basements for more information on how to control this universal water problem.

Good luck,
Carl Heldmann