1910 Home Basement Floor Questions

Discussion in 'Flooring' started by ATess, May 14, 2018.

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  1. May 14, 2018 #1

    ATess

    ATess

    ATess

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    Hi All!

    I just bought my first house in Yardley PA. It was built in 1910 and has a basement with stone walls and a dirt floor. It looks like a white sealant (I am assuming drylock) was put down on the floor. Recently we have gotten a lot of rain and it looks like in some places the sealant is coming loose from the floor. I like to compare it to a blister on your skin. It's loose and disconnected from the floor. I am afraid that if left unchecked, this space in between the sealant layer and the floor will become a breeding ground for mold and insects. Is there an easy way to get the sealant up off the floor? Ive been peeling it up where its already loose but in some sections of the floor its stuck down well.

    Thank you for any advice. I am new at this, but want to learn how to best take care of my home.
     
  2. May 14, 2018 #2

    Sparky617

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    I doubt Drylock is going to harbor mold or insects. Have you thought about pulling out the stone floor, and having a concrete floor poured with a vapor barrier below? Alternatively, you could pull up the stones and place a vapor barrier on the dirt and cover it with stone chips.

    My parent's last home out in York County PA had a rubble stone foundation and flagstones laid on the dirt for a floor, so I'm kind of familiar with your situation.

    Getting these basements to be dry and useful is a lot of work, and a lot of money. If you're not getting a lot of liquid water in through the walls and floor your best bet is to limit the use of your basement to mechanicals and very short-term storage (canned goods, root cellar). Add a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in check. At my parents' house, we added a perimeter French drain and a sump pump. We then ran the dehumidifier into the sump pump to save having to empty the catch bucket every day. Trying to get a completely dry basement with actual standing height ceilings would have probably required jacking up the house and replacing the rubble stone foundation with a poured concrete one, or a concrete block foundation. It wasn't worth it.
     
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  3. May 14, 2018 #3

    bud16415

    bud16415

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    I have been living in similar homes my whole life. Many times they started out dirt and then the homeowners over the years worked on them by putting a couple inches of concrete mix of some kind down a little at a time. it is rough looking and could be confused for packed dirt. I doubt anyone painted anything over a dirt floor. My guess is they wanted it to look nice to sell so they put some kind of stuff like you mentioned down.


    Depending on how much headroom you have and what your plans are for the area you could pour a slab over what is there. These basements were never intended to be living areas and to make then deeper and dry and livable is a big project.


    They make good storage for some things as mentioned and a place for the furnace and water heater, water pump etc.
     
  4. May 15, 2018 #4

    ATess

    ATess

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    Thank you for the replies!

    Sparky617: I've considered putting in a sump (we dont have one now) but my concern is that since I am so close to two bodies of water (in between the Deleware River and a canal off the same river) I might end up just digging a well in my basement and pumping it non-stop. As for the vapor barrier with stone chips, that is an interesting idea! what stone chips would you recommend? Is there a type of stone that would make sense if the eventual goal is to pour a concrete floor (i.e. stone chips that you can pour the floor over) or would I have to remove them when I do eventually want to pour a floor?

    bud16415: You hit the nail on the head. There is nothing down there besides my PEX manifold, Water Heater, electrical box, and furnace. Right now the floor to ceiling height is just under 6ft. Im not trying to make it into a fully functioning mancave or anything, but I am 6'2 and would love to be able to at least walk down there without being hunched over the whole time. If i wanted to dig out my floor a few inches (say 4) before putting down a vapor barrier and some crushed stone, is that something a DIY person can do, or would I need to call in an engineer to make sure digging didn't upset the foundation in any way?
     
  5. May 15, 2018 #5

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    The normal is to come in a foot or so inside the original wall dig down and do a footing and small wall to just above the level of the floor now. The footing would be just deep enough for the new floor to cover it.
    The drainage on the inside would be outside the new short wall. The old wall can be sealed at the top and draped with poly or something that would keep moisture out of the basement and divert any water to the new drain. You can fill the floor under concrete with sand and where I live rock chips are like sand with some slightly larger chunks in it and it should be cheaper, some times we can get it for almost free and that is fine to vapour barrier over that.
     
  6. May 16, 2018 #6

    Sparky617

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    I'd use stone chips, small aggregate stones, smaller than 1/2". You wouldn't need to remove them if you poured concrete later. If you decide to dig down, just be very careful around the walls, as you'd be disturbing the footings, such as they are on a house this old. It is most likely just a rubble/fieldstone foundation laid on the dirt. I've seen people dig down and pour a curb around the foundation and then step the floor down a bit deeper to make it that you can at least stand up in the basement. Making it a man cave is possible if you want to spend a lot of money, for that you'd need to bring in the professionals because you'd be better off jacking the house up rather than digging down especially if you're close to the water table.
     
  7. May 17, 2018 #7

    rokosz

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    ATess, There is a process that can (help a lot? totally?) with weeping walls. I've got the same situation as you -- stone foundation, and something that might be called a slab on the floor -- it drains well--straight down. Anyway a friend of mine had a similar basement. I've lost touch with him so I can't clearly say what the process is called, but essentially your foundation (presuming its mortared) is majorly re-pointed. I think one of the buzzwords was "hydraulic" -- no lifting of the house or re-assembly of walls. It was extraordinary how "modern" the climate felt down there after it was done. Talk to a true structural engineer for the idea/effort. He also took out _whatever_ was on the floor and put in a modern slab.
     
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