We've moved into a house that was built in 1901. The foundation is pretty solid still but has developed cracks. We have a crawl space and round brick cellar. I am looking for some suggestions on repairing these. I don't think we can afford to completely replace the foundation itself but would like to fix it so it doesn't start leaking.
I have the same cracks in the foundation problem. I just bought a 1930 Tudor in Vancouver, WA, and it has a full basm't but there is one major crack which runs from the
house's sill plate down to the basm't floor.
My basement walls are the old red clay hollow blocks, so the crack generally runs with the mortar beds and stair steps its way to the bottom. It's about a half-inch wide.
We have a 120 yr old house that has an added on cinder block wall around the whole basement. It's about two feet deep and five feet high. A crack developed almost all the way around. When there was an extra heavy rainstorm once, water poured in through the crack in different places. Plus the house has settled like most old houses so the floors are slanted, especially upstairs. We also don't know what if anything we should or can afford to do. Any advice would be helpful.
A 100 year old house. Are the cracks 100 years old, too, or are they new? If they are as old as the house and haven't leaked yet, why are they suddenly a problem.
If the cracks are new, however, I would first want to know what caused the cracks. Treat the cause first, then the symptoms.
Foundation cracks can be caused by any of several problems including settlement, lateral pressure from soil and/or water, and deterioration of the foundation wall material. Your best bet is to have it looked at by a structural engineer.
I own a home that was built in 1901. Recently while in the process of finishing the basement, I was told that my house had two years left and then it would fall. The foundation is made of red brick and mortar which is buckling and the mortar is flaking off.
To rectify this problem, the contractors suggested two things:1. Dig outside and put a whole new foundation $18,000-20,000 or 2. One Beam across top of baseement and 3 beams from ceiling to floor every 3 feet...price unknown as of this writing. Of course I'm sure the latter will be much less expensive.
I am curious to know if anyone has any idea if the second resolution is at all effective.
I welcome any and all help anyone can provide.
It's going to be hard. People will attempt to sell you expensive fixes, but once a lot of cracks develop it's difficult to keep water out without taking serious (and expensive) steps.
Without seeing the wall, it sounds like settlement cracking. The width seems rather large, though. Is the wall bowed in at all?
Did a contractor tell you that your house had 2 years left? That's hogwash. No one can put such a number to when a collapse will occur. There are so many variables that it's ridiculous. An engineer would typically tell you a collapse will occur at a certain load. In order to give a time for collapse without exceeding design loads, the person would have to have an exact idea of the current capacity and the rate of degradation of the system, AND the loading conditions from now until whenever. It sounds to me like a guy who wants some business now.
Just some general advice. If you ever (and I do mean EVER) get news from a contractor that the sky is falling and you need to have expensive work down or there will be dire consequences, hire an engineer. While the upfront money from the engineer might be more than you want to pay, it will almost always save you money.
The contractor works for himself and wants to sell you the most expensive item he can. The engineer works for you and will offer you options giving you pros/cons for each, and give his opinion. He will consider cost implications, and look into the situation much, much more than a contractor will. The engineer doesn't gain any more by you spending $25,000 for a fix compared to $500 for a fix. The contractor does.
The engineer's responsibility is to public safety and the client (you). The contractor's responsibility is to himself.
It is not uncommon for older brick foundation walls to begin to fail. The years of moisture and the soft mortar they used back then often begins to fail. But like Structuraleng said. Sounds like they are snake oil salesmen and the fixes they are suggesting may be way overkill.
My suggestion also is to get a structual engineer in there to evaluate the condition and suggest the correct fix. Of course replacement of the entire foundation wall would work so would putting posts in the basement and run beams along the walls to support the house. Both have their plus's and draw backs. But there are other methods of repairs that if indeed are warranted can be completed.
What you do not want to do is to re-parge the interior side of the brick or to re-point the missing mortar. This will only give you the illusion of being repaired. Doing so can cause the wall to fail faster if indeed its really doing so. Older mortar was soft, not like the materials they use today. It allows the foundation to flex and move without any damage. Using harder materials will prevent one side of the wall to move while the outside side would continue to flex. The result would be a bow or failure after several years of the foundation. You do not want that. Be aware of extioer water issues around the home. These old basements are damp. As they did not construct the basement of the home to hold back water. Making sure your gutters are clean and piped away from the foundation and that the basic grading of the exterior of the home is pitched away will do wonders within the basement. While it will not stop water intrusion nor stop the dampness, it will slow it down. Thus slowing down the corrosion of the surface of the bricks and mortar between them. Check out WWW.BIA.ORG web site it is from the brick industry and you may find some helpfull information at that site on your older home.
Get the structural engineer in there and have them do a look see. Then have contractors quote on the project after the proper fix for your home is found.
See my posting of February 6, 2010 Maurice Harting
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