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Waterproofing and finishing a basement with a stone foundation

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My house is in PA and was built around the 1940s. It has an unfinished basement with a stone foundation that has been worked on before (not sure exactly how much) and a floor that has been repoured a few time. I have only been in the house for a little more then 2 years so I don’t know all the details. The basement usually gets water after a good rain usually from the front of the house but never more then a coating. The previous owners installed a deep drain somewhat in the middle of the floor that seems to help get rid of any water we get. 

We want to eliminate the water issue and then finish off the basement so we can use it as living space. We have good ceiling height (around 7ft). We have had a couple companies out and they seem to contradict each other. One said we would need to have a footer added, that you need specific stone, a pipe with ridges (similar to ones used with gutters), and a certain pump in the perimeter drains because of the high acidity in the soil. He also mentioned their system was better because they drill small holes in the walls at the bottom that are filtered and drain into the system to relieve pressure on the walls and not just pull water under the foundation. Another said don’t use that pipe use pvc (the first guy said pvc wouldn’t work in our ground it just falls apart) and didn’t seem concerned about the stone, pump or what was in the soil. He focused on cleaning the walls and a barrier being needed on the wall if we wanted to finish the basement  

We are completely confused and going to get someone else out to look. Our goal is to get it done right so we don’t have to do it twice. We plan on being here a long time and want to enjoy that space. Do we need a footer? What pipe is the best to use? Does acidity in our soil effect the system?

Sorry for the long post just trying to get all the info I have out. I included a photo of the drain and one of the front wall. 




Edited by KellyCondron
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2 hours ago, KellyCondron said:

We want to eliminate the water issue and then finish off the basement so we can use it as living space.

I hear this all the time, and I always tell people that it's a bad idea. Here's why: You have a 1940s basement that was never designed and built to be waterproof. Attempting to make it waterproof now will suck a lot of money from your wallet, might or might not work, and could cause unforeseen consequences - such as damage to your foundation. It's a recipe for disappointment and unhappiness. 

My best advice: Align your expectations with the reality that you have a 1940s basement. Maintain your gutters and downspouts, direct all downspout water well away from the house, adjust the grade in your yard so that the soil slopes away from the house for at least 10', and finish your basement in such a way that occasional water entry won't damage any finishes.  




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I would not waste my money on trying to waterproof a stone foundation/basement or convert it to living space. If you really want to make "high quality" finished living space in the basement, I would spend the money on having a new basement/foundation installed that would be waterproof. I would also raise the home or dig basement down to have minimum 8+ foot ceiling height. You could go with standard poured concrete, ICF (insulated concrete forms) or a PWF (permanent wood foundation).     

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I don't recall seeing any waterproofing companies trying to waterproof stone, brick, or leaky CMU foundations a few years ago from inside the basement by covering the walls with a heavy plastic and installing an interior drainage system. It is now a common tactic. I am guessing in about 10 years the cat come out of the bag and foundations will be shown to have serious damage caused by this practice.

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"...We have good ceiling height (around 7ft)..."

Seven feet is not compliant with minimum height for "habitable space".

Do not waste time or money with the effort.

Real estate types often encourage buyers by hinting that they can "finish" the basement and increase SF/value.

I have seen some spectacular botch jobs in this direction that actually devalue the property.

I was told by an inspector even older than me that there are two kinds of basements, those that do leak and those that will leak.

Edited by Jim Baird
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On 2/12/2019 at 8:30 AM, Erby said:

I've always found it odd that we dig a round hole in the ground, call it a well, and expect it to produce water.  Then we dig a square hole in the ground, call it a basement, and expect it to stay dry.

Bravo! I’m keeping that one. 🤣

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