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My wife has been suffering the past two years with severe asthma symptoms (never had asthma before this). She's been advised that it's probably mold.

We asked a company to look for moisture vulnerabilities. They pointed out salt deposits at the bottom of some cinder blocks in our basement. They said this is due to water on the outside trying to get in. They also pointed out that our sump is bone dry, and said that normally we should see some water in there - showing evidence that previously it was normal. (Our home is 40 years old).

They said that water is now blocked getting to our sump. They did an estimate on building a new drainage system/sump, involving jackhammering our foundation on the inside.

Looking for any advice/experience on this. The company said that blockage to a sump is unfixable. This is disappointing, given that the house was otherwise built with a lot of quality.

Except for one minor instance, we've never "seen" water come in the basement. But would like to have a normal working sump; and most of all, would like to prevent mold growth. Thanks for any help!!

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I would get a second opinion, perhaps from an inspection company that employs engineers. Water tables change over time due to wells, nearby construction, etc. Also, I'd want to see evidence that there are mold spores in the suspicious area before jackhammering. You could have mold elsewhere that's not visible -- in a bathroom wall, for example. Lastly, is there a chance that she's reacting to a chemical rather than mold? –  TomG Jan 5 '12 at 1:50
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Often mold is due to condensation, condensation can be controlled by having a good ventilation system. When we had damp problems due to condensation, most companies that came round claimed we needed a new DPC, as that is what they make their money from. They may be right that we need a new DPC, but all our dump problems vanished when we sorted out the ventilation. –  Walker Jan 5 '12 at 12:04
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I would second the comments recommending a second opinion. A sump is in the basement to allow water to be drained away if it accumulates around the footings. If there's no water there it quite probably means that your water table is low enough that there's not seepage. It also would indicate that you have decent drainage around the house and rain water is running away and not down along the foundation walls.

Even if there is a blockage in your sump I would expect there to be some water in the bottom if you currently have a water problem. Blockages often involve crushed weeping tile or other drainage pipes. However, it would not usually be a complete blockage and if you have a have water on the outside trying to get in at least some of it should be seeping into your sump even through damaged draining lines.

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Thanks everyone! It's truly appreciated. If anyone has a referral to perhaps an independent engineer with experience in this in the Baltimore area, please let me know. Thanks so much for your help. –  Dave Clausen Jan 6 '12 at 14:04
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