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Old 09-15-2009, 12:19 AM   #1
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Stone Foundation Woes


I'd like to snap my fingers (or even pay someone to snap theirs) and have all of my water / moisture problems magically disappear. But that's not going to happen.

This is my first post, so please excuse me if I've categorized it improperly.

Here's a little info...

I have a 75-80 year old 2-story rowhouse in South Philadelphia. I'm in the middle of the block. It's brick / brownstone built on a stone foundation.

I bought this place about a year and a half ago. It was inspected and (despite a couple of small items) it passed with flying colors. There was however a little bit of settling in one corner however, I was told that's fairly common in this area. As old as this house is, I'm sure it's not going anywhere if it hasn't already.

The basement is not finished, nor do I plan to finish it in the future. I use it primarily for storage. Up until about 3-4 months ago it was just that - 'dry' storage.

My walls have been parged and painted over. There were a couple of cracks in the parge coat but I was told it was superficial and I could fix if I chose to. I never bothered. My floor looks like it was just a bunch of concrete that was poured and spread. It's not flat and I highly doubt it ever was. There are even settlement cracks that have been repaired. I'm OK with that too.

Back to my issue... When it rains, I get moisture. It feels damp and musty down there. I always wrote it off as that 'basement smell' but now I actually see water. It comes in from the rear corners. It's not alot, but enough to collect and find its was along the floor and become a nuisance. Each time it rains, it gets worse. And now that I am looking, I am noticing more severe cracks in my parge coat toward the back of the house. The parge coat also buckles in some spots as does the floor. The last time it rained I inspected and found what looked like a small stream of water running down from a barely visible crack. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to poke a screwdriver through, which allowed more water to come in. This was actually OK because I was able to kind of isolate it and keep it from getting all over the floor.

I do the math... I add up new cracks, water intrusion, a sloped floor in that back corner, and I get real scared about what I may be facing.

Here's some additional info... I had a new roof installed about a year ago which now rolls water back to the rear (where the water problem is). My downspout is pretty ragged. I need a new one. It drains down from the rear corner where all this activity is and directly into a cast-iron stack that cuts right into my foundation, and then connects to the lateral out the front of the house to the sewer.

Aside from this one busted downspout, i have no other gutters. At the rear of my house, there is a bumpout that drops about 6 inches from the roofline and sticks out about 24 inches. Needless to say, when it rains, the water rolls right down onto that bumpout and down the corners - directly to the ground outside where the water is getting in.

I had my roofer out to look and he said you cannot install gutters onto the bumpout and that the water is supposed to run off the corners like that. I find that hard to believe.

At any rate.. I think that paints a pretty detailed (sorry) picture of my problem / problems. Here's what I am thinking. If anyone has any insight or thoughts on things I can try.. I am all ears.

1. i need to get this downspout fixed. call is in to the gutter people.
2. i need to get this cast iron drain checked. plumber is out tomorrow.
3. i need to figure out if i can get a gutter installed on the bumpout, and along the side of my house (the alley) and have them both tie into the downspout.

i've had a couple basement waterproofers out to look and i just don't buy the dog and pony show. they want to install french drains, sump pumps, and inject bentonite along the perimeter of my house. and they want to charge me a ridiculous amount of money for it. i find it hard to believe that's my only option when this house has been standing dry for this long.

after all that, i guess i have one or two real questions..

can all of these problems really be attributed to poor drainage from a new roof?

how on earth do you divert water away from a rowhouse where you've got two people on each side, a street in the front, and a 10' x 16' area in the back that sits lower than the actual ground level? does all this water have to funnel through that single stack that goes right into my sewer line?

ok. i'm done. if this was too wordy, i apologize. i just know after reading 100s of posts, the main reason for no reply is a lack of details. details i got.

thanks everyone.

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Old 09-15-2009, 04:51 AM   #2
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the ' cure ' you seek doesn't exist,,, we're doing 1 bsmt here near atl BUT i've got access to the footer at the whole perimeter meaning we can stop the water from entering the bsmt - you don't,,, suspect the parging was done shortly prior to your buying it to hide the problem but could be wrong,,, if i am, something changed in the n-hood to the point you're now experiencing wtr infiltration but that's unlikely.

get rid of the parging or wait for it to fall off on its own,,, run a dehumidifier, install sump & pump as part of a wtr management system, or have someone else do it,,, at i time, dr desert dry was the leading bsmt wtrproofing guy in philly but ed died & i heard they were having tough times ( daughter was good mgr but not sure what happened )

inspectors usually don't know dick about wet bsmt cures,,, all they know's new cement looks good but its not their house so who cares ? ? ?

ck the other thread for the 4 basic rules of water,,, its not that a ' cure ' even exists,,, the house is where it is & now you'll have to manage the problem,,, the last i knew, bsmt systems were in the 50-$60 per foot range,,, fergawd'sake, get the downspout OUT of that area somehow.

your roofer's probably right in his experience such as it is but this isn't plumber, roofer, guttermakers, OR carpenters work,,, its dirty, backbreaking, exhausting physical labor,,, bentonite's a good item when done properly in the hands of a good mechanic,,, accept the fact your house has been standing in water for yrs - finally the brick can't resist leaking,,, that little diagram they drew IS correct - your bsmt IS like a ship's hull below the waterline,,, use your head !
its difficult to think their solution's right because its so expensive but you CAN do this work yourself,,, just get 20 5gal buckets to carry out the mud, bring in the stone & concrete, & 5 guys to carry 'em,,, ' ridiculous ' tho the cost may be to you, their system does work,,, ps - you can't legally discharge managed water into the sanitary system.

ps - your situation's no different than 100's of other bsmts we did in ny-nj-pa-de-ct,,, good luck !

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Old 09-15-2009, 04:58 AM   #3
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another ps if it helps, i've got the same problem here in no atlanta,,, wtr runs down alongside the bsmt wall & the resultant soil acids attack the lime in the wall's block's cement,,, the cure's $8K for 30' here,,, dig up the d/w, lost the landscaping bush's, coat the wall, install toe drain running to daylight, backfill w/87 stone, etc,,, those guys who blt this house got pd & they're gone - even tho it was blt to ' code ' for whatever that's worth, huh ? ? ?
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Old 09-25-2009, 12:20 PM   #4
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Stone Foundation Woes


I'm not going to address the issues with the downspouts and where the water is coming from but some notes on your walls:

We use ThoroSeal and Acryl60 admix to form a thin waterproof masonary coating on the interior of the basement wall.

You need to have a stable masonary surface in place to trowel the ThoroSeal over.

If your existing parging is already cracked and leaking it is hard to say if it is in suitable condition to recieve either the ThoroSeal or re-parge over the existing and then coat with ThoroSeal without actually seeing it. (I'm guessing not)

The process to fix the problem 100% would be to:

Waterblast the existing parging down to the stone.

Either repoint/parge the bare stone with a 4:1:1 sand/portland/lime mix OR metal lath the wall and then parge with the same mixture.

Trowel 2 coats of Thoroseal over the parging.
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Old 09-25-2009, 12:54 PM   #5
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Stone Foundation Woes


"itsreallyconc"-where in N. Atlanta? My sister lives in Norcross off of Peachtree Parkway, and they are having these same problems in their app. 25 yr. old home with full basement. Not a drop of water until the last 6-8 years or so. Now, as others have said, when it rains-it pours-in the basement. They have had esitmates in the $30K+ range to remediate this problem. Ironically, the three contractors they have had look at it are all close on pricing. Dig deep in front yard, dig into steep grade, sloping down to rear on each side, and install French drain system into "wet-weather" creek behind house. This seems to be a common problem in that area as there is always a home(s) having this work done to them. I am currently visiting in Fairbanks, Alaska. As I have taken daily walks throught this neighborhood I have noticed a similar problem. There are currently three homes having soil removed from all around or at least the front and sides of the homes. I stopped to talk with one of the contractors (friendly guys) and were told that this is for "Insulation renewal". It seems that these homes built in the early 70's didn't have enough exterior insulation put around the basement walls. Understanding that there are better materials today, they are now using a six-inch (6") thick foamboard to place on the exterior walls, a water-proof membrane over that, an "Alaskan French drain" system, and the home is dryer and cozyier (is that a word?). Interesting things you find and learn when you go for walks and be nosy, Thanks, David
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Old 09-25-2009, 03:30 PM   #6
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i like thoro products & acryl60's fine, too, as a modified-latex/acrylic additive,,, however, that's for above grade ONLY,,, i wouldn't use it in MY OWN HOUSE to resolve a leaky/wet bsmt,,, as an aside, orson's 1 of the few who know the difference 'tween Masonry & masonary so kudo's to you, bud

perhaps its just our approach that differs - we install traditional sub-floor drains & drains in stone walls which allow the wtr to enter piping leading to a sump & mechanical removal,,, for new walls, we've install'd fiberglass reinforced plastic panels ( n j tpke restrooms ) which work fine.
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Old 09-25-2009, 03:41 PM   #7
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we're in marietta but work in the greater atlanta area 'cept not farther south than the airport,,, matter of fact, have a couple jobs near her- 1's in decatur & the other's in tucker ( collapsed bsmt wall ) so not far at all.

$30K sounds like full excavation, clean walls, apply sonneborn sonolastic, protection board, toe drain, backfill w/clean stone & excavated soil,,, also sounds like i should raise prices

when she gets a call back from those guys, there'll be a reason to drop the price ( commercial crew ran into hazmat & is idle'd, working in area, mrs. jones has tommy home from school 'cause he's sick, etc ),,, just std selling practices for those guys,,, which's why i don't sell many jobs but that's their life - i sleep well at nite as do they, obviously,,, nevertheless, i don't have time for those games !

ak's got permafrost that's a bigger challenge for bsmt comfort,,, their ambient earth temp can be 25f whereas here its 65f.

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