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Old Dirt Basement

Hi, I live in New England and my 13 year old home is built on an 80 year old rock foundation with a dirt floor basement. I have a steady stream of water that flows through when it rains. My two sump pumps keep the water from rising. I'd like to get advice from someone on what options I have to address this nightmare. My first floor is freezing because of all the gaps in the foundation, even though the basement ceiling is insulated. I don't know what kind of expert I need. Do I ask a contractor, an engineer, a basement spe******t? I want to do so many renovation projects upstairs, but I feel I need to address the foundation first. Everyone tells me it's going to cost 50K plus. I'm a single mother and there's no way I could afford that.
Thanks for any advice anyone can give me.

Re: Old Dirt Basement

#1 is really surprises me that a builder would build on an old rock foundation. for exactly the problems your having

#2- you should consult both an engineer and a basement spe******t. as the engineer can tell you what would need to be done. the foundation guy to tell you if they can dig out around the perimeter and somehow waterproof the outside to control the leaks. from there bring in 3/4" stone to even off the dirt floor then put down 1" foam, vapor barrier to control dampness and moisture

to do it correctly it most definitely wont be a cheap fix

Re: Old Dirt Basement

Seems to me that a reasonable solution (without replacing the foundation entirely) would be to keep the water from getting to the foundation in the first place. This means digging a trench around the entire house, placing drain tile and drain rock in it, and directing the outlet of that drain tile to a location on your property that is lower than the house. You could at the same time redirect the flow of your gutter downspouts. If your house is already at the low point, this may not be practical.

One potential problem with doing this is that the foundation may depend on the surrounding soil for structural support, and digging a trench near or next to the foundation could cause it to collapse.

The $50,000 guesstimate probably involves jacking up your house and putting a completely new foundation under it. The above work would probably be around $10,000 and may improve the situation, but you would still have an old rock foundation and a dirt basement/crawlspace. But that's a guess on my part, too.

P.S. -- This forums lame spam filters don't like the word s-p-e-c-i-a-l-i-s-t because the word c-i-a-l-i-s is contained within it.

Re: Old Dirt Basement

My first home was built in 1888 and had a field stone foundation. Digging outside to parge the wall is very risky and expensive. Parging inside is hard heavy labor, but the materials are fairly cheap.

If money is an issue, there are no easy answers aside from leaving things alone. You can do a better job of insulating that floor, perhaps adding a sheet of Tyvek to the undersde to help reduce the air flow.

Derek Engle
Re: Old Dirt Basement


First I would fix any gap or cracks in your foundation walls with mortar or a mortar substitute like quikrete mortar repair (this comes in caulk tubes and is a lot easier to work with in a crawlspace). Then I would walk around your house and inspect your gutter drainage system, you want to make sure that the discharge spouts are atleast 6 feet away from your foundation walls. The next thing I would check the grade of the dirt surrounding your foundation walls, make sure the dirt is higher along your foundation walls then the surrounding dirt so that the water will run away from your house. I would also consider digging a 6 inch trench on the inside of your crawlspace about 10 inches away from your foundation walls (to make sure you don't disrupt the walls integrity) Then i would place drain tile with a sock on it into the trench making sure they end at your sump pumps. This should make sure that you discharge all the water getting into your crawlspace/basement at a faster more efficient rate. Then I would consider encapsulating your crawlspace with a heavy duty vapor barrier! This will keep your crawlspace/ basement warm and help keep your floors warm. For more information on this subject visit crawlspaceinfo.com . It is real informative site that should answer all of your questions.

Re: Old Dirt Basement

Agreeing with Tom, you could have radon issues. Just as important, install 6 mil plastic over the floor to prevent moisture from wicking onto building components. An exposed dirt floor promotes mold growth, which can lead to health issues.

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