How to Waterproof a Basement with a Stone Foundation

Basements weren’t always designed to be conditioned living spaces. Up until the 20th century many foundations were built using stone. Nowadays many developers use poured concrete to build foundation walls and employ a variety of basement waterproofing techniques.

However, homes with stone foundations are still prevalent in various parts of the country, and if you own one, you may know the difficulty in keeping it dry. Just because it’s difficult to waterproof a basement with a stone foundation doesn’t mean it’s impossible. This article will dive into the various techniques you can use to turn your wet basement into a conditioned living space.

What Are Stone Foundations?

Stone foundations have been used for centuries to give stability and structure to a home. They are made by stacking irregularly shaped stones and originally weren’t built using mortar. However, as the years went on mortar was added between layers to fill gaps in the foundation,preventing entry of pests and water into the home.

Advantages of Stone Foundations:

• Natural aesthetics
• Durability
• Environmentally friendly

Disadvantages of Stone Foundations:

• Inconsistent quality
• Lack of insulation
• Vulnerability to movement
• Higher cost to build
• Mortar deterioration leading to moisture issues

stone foundation

Signs of Water Damage in Stone Foundations:

If you have a stone foundation, it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs of water damage and repair them as soon as possible. Allowing damage to go unaddressed can more extensive and costly repairs down the line.

Signs to Look Out For:

• Damp or Musty Odors
• Visible Water Stains
• Peeling Paint or Wallpaper
• Efflorescence
• Cracks in Walls or Floors
• Rot or Decay
• Mold and Mildew
• Puddles or Standing Water

Consequences of Ignoring Water Damage in Stone Foundations:

• Structural Damage
• Health Risks from Mold and Mildew Growth
• Increased Repair Costs
• Reduced Property Value
• Electrical Hazards
• Compromised Insulation

How Do You Waterproof a Stone Foundation?

stone foundation

To truly waterproof a stone foundation there are a variety of techniques that should be employed in conjunction to create an effective waterproofing system. Those techniques involve exterior waterproofing, interior waterproofing, applied waterproofing, and waterproofing systems like French drains and sump pumps.

Exterior Waterproofing:

Waterproofing a stone foundation from the exterior may be the most effective solution as it stops water at the source and discourages mortar deterioration. Although it’s the most effective technique it’s also the most invasive.

You’ll need to excavate the soil around your foundation down to the footing, clean and prep the stone walls, and apply a waterproof coating. At this time, you have the option to add an external French drain and/or a dimple membrane. Then the soil will be backfilled and graded away from your foundation. This work should be done by a professional.

Interior Waterproofing:

Interior waterproofing for stone foundations involves a wide array of techniques:
• Sump pump installation: A sump pump in a basement with stone foundations will act as insurance for water that does leak through the foundation. The water will collect in the sump basin and be pumped out of your home.

• French Drain Installation: A French drain is often installed with a sump pump and allows you to manage water under your slab. However, paired with a dimple board a French drain can catch water that leaks into your stone foundation before it touches your concrete slab.

• Stucco: Stucco can be used to repoint, or fill holes between stones, and to apply a surfaceof stucco over the top of the field stone foundation. This improves aesthetics and encourages waterproofing.

• Cementitious Coating: Also known as crystalline, this self-healing applied product will crystallize into the porous stucco and mortar, fortifying and waterproofing continuously.

• Vapor Barrier: Vapor barrier is a material used to restrict the passage of water vapor from one side of a structure. When installed on the interior of a stone foundation a vapor barrier can be tucked into your dimple board, effectively directing water from your foundation walls into your French drain.

In Conclusion:

stone foundation

Stone foundations, with their rich history and natural aesthetics, have both advantages and disadvantages. While they offer durability and environmental friendliness, they can suffer from inconsistent quality and insulation issues. Stone foundations are prone to vulnerability from movement and often come with higher construction costs. Moreover, the deterioration of the mortar can lead to moisture-related problems.

Recognizing signs of water damage in stone foundations is crucial to prevent structural issues, health risks, and increased repair costs. Ignoring these problems can also reduce property value and pose electrical hazards.

To waterproof a stone foundation effectively, a combination of techniques is required, including exterior and interior waterproofing, as well as applied waterproofing systems.

Exterior waterproofing, though invasive, is highly effective, involving excavation, cleaning, and waterproof coatings. Interior solutions include sump pumps, French drains, stucco application, cementitious coating, and vapor barriers.

Employing these techniques in unison is essential for converting a damp stone foundation into a conditioned living space, preserving both its beauty and structural integrity.