THIS OLD HOUSE - Charming, But What about the Basement?
"We want to buy one of those This Old Houses."
That's what we at AAA Reick's Waterproofing are hearing more and more. In these turbulent times, the charm of older houses gives a sense of having a "real home."
"But we are worried that we could have trouble with a wet basement. After all, the property is old"
That's what they add.
Well, they brighten right up when we explain the 3-step process they can use to check out the history of any basement.
Step 1 - The Look of Things.
A background of wetness can be visible in any discoloring of the walls or black dots of mold. There also can be a white powdery substance or crusty shell. That's from years of mineral build-up after the water had dried. See white streaking on the baseboard? Not good. Cracks in the wall are also sign water can enter from the outside - and probably has.
Step 2 - Sump Basket.
In a "This Old House" episode, the presence of a sump basket indicates that probably there was a wetness problem. Back in those days, a sump pump system wasn't installed as standard equipment.
Step 3 - Trouble Outside.
Water in the basement starts from the outside and enters the property in a number of ways. Rarely does water rise from beneath the basement floor. That's nothing but a myth.
That's why you have to inspect the foundation for cracks and holes. Those could be points of entry for water. So could openings in driveways, sidewalks, and patios. A tip-off that there had been trouble is caulking between the house and the surrounding surfaces. Another sign of problems is if the soil slopes toward the house.
That 3-step sleuthing by you will accomplish this: You can leverage what you've uncovered to negotiate with the seller. You request ensuring waterproofing as a term and condition for the sale. And the only way permanent waterproofing can be guaranteed is by focusing on where and how the water enters from the outside.
For example, in This Old House cracks and holes develop as the property settles over the years. Unless sealed they will become larger. More and more moisture will enter from the outside. Other paths for water to enter are the surrounding concrete, asphalt or other paved surfaces. Post-sealing there is regrading. That directs draining away from the home.
Sump pumps and other "inside jobs" to deal with wetness in the basement are powerless against the heavy rains in the Minneapolis Metro Area.