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homert3 02-06-2008 06:12 PM

Stone Foundation
Looking for advise. I have an old farm house that is need of foundation help. Not sure what to do. I recently had Everdry, a company that repairs foundations via some form of sealinig, take a look and estimate repairs. They pointed out some damge due to water being trapped in the walls- turned the masonry to a dust like state.

I'm not sure if sealing is the correct option or is there another option. I am located on a hill so I do not have the problem of ground water, water table rising. Its just during heavy rains and snow melting that it comes in the walls.

inspectorD 02-07-2008 05:15 AM

Although I have never heard of the company, Anyone who repairs foundations knows you do it from the outside. This unfortunatly gets to expensive. What you are getting is a feel good solution for now. Stone foundations are tough to seal regardless. Doing some repointing will help.
If you apply any sealant to the interior, it will eventually flake off, just as it is doing now. You could, if you wanted to save yourself the money ,DIY with some drylock paint or any other sealer for basements. We have covered this in other posts. But this does not solve the groundwater issue from heavy rains. To do that, you don't need a basement company, unless they are going to seal your house from the exterior. Not usually a solution for stone foundations.
I would suggest looking at your gutters first, clean them and repair them if they leak and extend the gutter downspouts 8 feet away from the house for best performance. Usually a plastic flexible downspout is you can move it around for mowing .
Then check the grading around the house, it should all slope away from the house, fix any areas that need it.
I would do these two things before I sealed an old basement foundation.

Hope this helps you out.:)

homert3 02-07-2008 08:24 AM

Thanks for the comments inspector. I have recently placed new gutters and spouts on the house and clean them every so often (no debri). I'm concerned that I may be fooling myself here by sealing the exterior if I want to solve the water problem. The other concern I have is the structure of the foundation. I know the foundation must have settled in the last 5 years as I have seen noticable changes in other parts of the house - drywall, floor joist supports, etc.

My concern is if I seal the exterior, will the house most likely settle again and need to be sealed again in the next 10 years. Or should i look into new walls? Is there someone that can evaluate this situation and give advise other than a repair company or replacement company? Is there another option I am not aware of?

inspectorD 02-08-2008 06:16 AM

Well... you could call a foundation guy, but he will probably try to sell you a foundation, or they may recommend repairs. This is one of those places you need to get a couple of good reputable foundation contractors, you will need a closer look at the issues. Stone foundations are all different,they are built using local materials and all move with time. They are a constant maintenance issue but also come with alot of charm. The best way to handle water is from the outside. Then manage what does come in with drains, and a dehumidifier. Finally... try to mortar between the rock as best you can. The issue with sealing any stone foundation is it can break if it freezes. And stone is very porous and will always collect moisture from the ground beneath it. If you put a plastic over it it tends to get the water to migrate up through the structure. This causes damage to the sills and other issues.

You can also try for other stone foundation opinions.
By the way..settlement in older homes around here is called "character" and sells for much more.:D

You can change it, fix it and live with it ...or move on....but keep us informed and we will help as best we can.:)

TheFentonGuy 02-08-2008 07:12 AM

Ok, so I guess I'll be the "guy" to tell you to do it from the inside.....

My parents own a 200+ year old farm house in Vermont that was part of the underground railroad. Since this was two separate houses, that were pushed together, the stone foundation is only under the dining/living room half of the house. My father had the same issue. He also met with the local telephone company and when they pulled a broken pole, he would get it for free. He would then take the tar covered end that was in the ground and after inspection for any bug issues, he would cut and install that in place of any posts under beams that were not able to hold anymore. This gives him an endless supply of supports for the rafters. He also has a "river that runs through it" (sounds like the movie). His solution was to dig a trench around the border of the basement. This works very well and almost never floods. He then had someone come from the inside and drill a whole from the lowest corner to the outside. This allowed all of the water that did come in, a way out, which runs off the side hill (house is built on a small hill in the front, but the ground is leveled off from the living room backwards. This put the water right back into the stream that is between the property line. Finally, one of the walls was starting to show sagging and as you say dusting. He built his own forms with plywood and poured his own cement from bags into his form. This form covers the whole wall with 3-4" of cement. This starts in the basement area floor 1-2' away from the wall and and works its way up to the 3-4" at the top of the wall. This gives what is left of the foundation support for itself. Now, again, I'm not foundation guy and nor is my father, but given that he has an engineering (not civil) I grant that he did his homework on his options. I don't think lifting the whole house and paying for someone to dig and put new forms was ever one of his top list options! :-)

I sure hope this helped. I think my parents house (yellow) is in my gallery. The wall that was supported is under the front sun room (front of the house). If you want, I could ask my father for some basement pics, but it may take a while.

southernelitecrete 03-22-2008 05:19 AM

this'll probably be too late to help,,,
you but someone else may benefit,,, old stone walls're usually mortar'd in place,,, soil acids attack mortar's lime which leaches OUT leaving the sand,,, this happens above ground AND below as well,,, repointing's always proper,,, HOWEVER, can't repoint wall's exterior w/o full excavation to the footer - you can't repair what you can't see,,, therefore the BEST method's to excavate the exterior & do the repairs correctly including toe drains, waterproofing membrane system, & protection board,,, yes, you can diy but your contractor'll have INSURANCE - you'd only have yourself to sue :(

most ' waterproofing ' companies'll try to resolve the problem by installing an interior ' water management system ' commonly mis-named a ' french drain ',,, as part of this system, a sump & pump'll be installed,,, i've heard of the 1 named as this was our work.

once owned an 1864 house in upstate ny w/laid stone fnd ( no mortar or full bsmt ), when the river was high, we got wtr in the small room ( 12 x 12 root cellar ) underneath,,, when the river was down, we didn't,,, old houses were never engineer'd or construct'd to have basements as ' living space ',,, nowadays, we think differently & try to re-engineer the original intent which's fine IF we invest enough to make it all work.

the guy's father in the above post must've been a retir'd electrical engineer :D as no civil or structural engineer would ever have repair'd a crumbling wall like that & expected it to be permanent or structurally sufficient even tho it still may be working,,, utility poles were usually treated w/creosote, not tar, in vt,,, that would bring an environmental hazard into an habitable structure.

inspectorD 03-22-2008 07:09 AM

I hope this guy figured it out. And I wonder if he knows about lime based mortar like the Southerner said.
With the age of the house(stone foundation) you need to use the original type lime based mortar in the joints. This is why I told him to get a good, old mason to look it over. This is a more severe issue with old brick when someone uses portland based mortar for the repair. The portland cement based mortar is to hard and eventually destroys the brick, which is old style. And with a stone foundation, you need to know what type of stone is being used. Thus the need for an expert.
The issue still remains, divert as much water as you can away with drainage, gutters and grading around the house, then tackle it from the inside with more drains and sump pumps.
And as I said before, painting or sealing the interior is a waste of time and money.

Lots of good advice around here. Hope someone uses it.:D

southernelitecrete 03-29-2008 07:22 AM

agreed, d,,,
morn' once we've had to replace the old soft brick because repairs were done w/modern mortar which's much more inflexible than old limes,,, sometimes, because of color but, more usually, the old bricks crack'd due to tension, expansion, & compression.

also, its VERY rare that proper restoration work includes diamond blades & grinders over hand-chiseling.

mudmixer 03-29-2008 09:11 AM

Weak mortar can be better!

If you look at the Appendix to ASTM C270 (the mortar specifications), it says to use the weakest mortar (lowest compressive strength) possible to carry the load. The benefits of the other properties (workability, bond, flexibility, etc.) of lower strength mortar add much to the performance of the wall and masonry units.

fred333 04-30-2008 09:06 AM

That is a great suggestion. Thanks.

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