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Old 03-31-2010, 05:12 PM   #1
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"waterproofing" a foundation built in 1896


We're currently dealing with a VERY leaky basement, mostly due to the recent floods in New England. But flood or not, our cellar has a tendency to fill up with any big dose of rain.
Our biggest issue appears to be ground floods when the water table rises through old cracks that seems to keep spreading and worsening.
Can anyone suggest a specific type of hydraulic cement that would really help patch and strengthen this old foundation?
Also, is there a way to completely cover the old floor with a new cement floor, but in sections at a time, as cost is definitely an issue.
Thanks in advance for you help!
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Old 04-01-2010, 06:39 AM   #2
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Hang in there and wait for an answer from "itsreallyconcrete"; he does this sort of stuff all day long - and in his sleep - and he'll have all the answers.

But basically, he'll say that the water has to be removed before it gets inside your home - and that may means a better French drain (or weeping tile) system on the outside of your foundation - or at least a check to see if it's working or not. Do you have a sump pump?

And he'll also tell you that covering the problem with even the best cement won't be more than a short-term solution. Where do the downspouts channel the water? what grade issues do you have? In a house that over 100 years old, it may take some investigation to see what's there and what's missing.
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Old 04-03-2010, 07:38 AM   #3
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Old house foundation question


Looking for an insight from "itsreallyconcrete"...
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:03 AM   #4
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A couple of points worth considering. The concrete floor that is letting most of the water in is not really part of your foundation, it is merely a covering over soil that makes the floor easier to walk on and clean. The foundation is either a concrete wall, or in your case possibly a fieldstone wall, either mortared or laid dry.

Most of the time, the concrete floor is a thin layer, approximately three inches thick, unreinforced. In the unlikely case that you were capable of sealing the floor against water intrusion, and sealing the walls, the groundwater would rise to a level well above the floor, and would probably buckle the floor, since for every foot of water there will be an upward pressure of approximately 62 lbs per square foot, a pressure that cannot be resisted by unreinforced thin slabs.

The reason the floors do not buckle when the building floods is that the pressure is equal inside and outside, hence there is no net pressure on the floor.

The point is that in the unlikely case you could apply hydraulic cement to the floor and walls and seal them against water intrusion, you would probably buckle your floor during the next period of high groundwater.

The solution as previously noted is to install a perimeter drain around the house, draining ideally via gravity either into the storm drainage system on the street (if you have one), or to a low area far from the house that does not flood. Check previous posts on this forum for full discussion on alternative techniques, and use of a sump pump in the event you need a pump solution.
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:12 PM   #5
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Exterior Water Management is the only way to properly deal with water.

There are no Bandaids that you can goop on to a historic home to stop water. You have to deal with it in the surrounding landscape of the house. Hydraulic cements actually CAUSE larger problems when you are combining them with a Lime mortar built foundation.
Water will always win if it makes it to your house....so get it away in the first place

Dig a swale around the property to get the water away from the house.

email Chris at www.oldhome.ca for a back-issue of Edifice Magazine that deals with historic homes and water management.
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