The High and Dry Blog
Toronto’s structural clarity in a sea of confusion.
Everything You Need To Know About Crumbling Foundations
February 21, 2018
If you live in a century home, you are probably used to wood burning fireplaces, high ceilings, and beautiful wood finishing’s. However, despite the gorgeous century look, the foundations within these types of homes is likely to deteriorate and crumble over time. The question that remains is how do you go about fixing your crumbling foundation with the new materials and waterproofing techniques available in the modern age? Surely you do not want to lose the century look of the home. It is interesting to note that more often than not, newer materials can damage a crumbling foundation more than it can benefit it! Keep reading to find out where foundations came from, why they started crumbling, and what you can do to prevent a crumbling foundation in your century home.
The History of Foundations
In the old days, farmers built homes using fieldstone. This was essentially a foundation wall made from stones that were gathered from nearby fields. The farmers that built these homes started off by digging a hole around the house by hand. However, this proved to be an issue because the dirt kept falling in on them. As a solution to this problem, the farmers started digging through the mud at an angle. To complete the foundation, they laid stones around the house and constructed the foundation using clay soil. Since they dug through the dirt at an angle, over time, water from rain and snow began penetrating through the clay soil and into the basement. As time passed and the farmers earned an income through crops and livestock, they found that they could afford a mortar mix and concrete to solidify the foundation. However, despite this advancement, water was still seeping through the mud centuries later. Due to this error in building, centuries later, you are reading this article wondering why your foundation is crumbling. It is because the water seeping through the mud is causing the concrete to steadily fall peel off the fieldstone foundation.
Now that you have recognized that your foundation is crumbling and you know why it is happening, it is time to learn about how it can be fixed and what we, at wetbasements.com, can do to help. Our founder, John MacRae lives in a century home, and has nearly 45 years of experience with repairing crumbling and damaged fieldstone, rubblestone and century foundation walls.
Natural Hydraulic Lime (NHL)
Natural Hydraulic Lime (NHL) mortar is a substance used to closely match the mortar originally used in the foundation. This allows for an accurate restoration of the foundation and ensures that the look of the century home remains intact. Moreover, Natural Hydraulic Lime is also popularly used due to its elastic properties. Restorations such as replacing interior basement walls or repairing existing foundation walls with either a weak or no footing are best handled by the professionals. Moreover, NHL can be an effective substitute material over time because it will be able to accommodate the shifting of the wall. Some individuals and companies may choose to use Modern Portland mixes for restorations rather than Natural Hydraulic Lime. This may not be the most suitable material because it can be unforgiving and sometimes may cause the fieldstone in between the mortar to crack. It is important to ensure that the right materials are being used for restorations because it can maximize the lifespan of the foundation overall. Rather than lasting a measly 10 years, foundations can go on to last over 100+ years. However, Modern Portland mixes can be beneficial to use on the exterior of the foundation because they assist with waterproofing of the basement and ensures that water cannot seep through the walls.
Natural Hydraulic Lime is often used in foundation restoration techniques and assists with fixing the exterior of the basement. However, if you want to reduce the musty smell in the basement or create an overall appealing ambiance, Masonry White Washing is the primary approach that is taken.
Masonry White Washing
White washing is a technique that uses a cement-based coating across the interior walls of the basement. This coating has many benefits including brightening the ambiance of the basement and preserving the mortar, ensuring that the fieldstone foundation lasts longer. There are many mixed reviews about white washing; some people love it and others not so much. Many specialists suggest that if white washing is accomplished along with the right drainage system and a sealed basement floor, there will be much less work to do over time.
If you have any questions about your crumbling foundation or require restoration services, contact GJ MacRae Foundation Repair at wetbasements.com today!