Old stone foundation in Toronto home

Do you have an old foundation that is leaking water?  Due to the age of many Toronto homes, leaking basements are a common problem, especially in homes with older foundations.

Foundations really only become a waterproofing problem if there’s a basement concealed within them. If water leaks through the foundation and into the basement, the solution depends on the materials used to build it. In this article we discuss what to do if your foundation is an older stone, brick or cinder-block type. In some cases traditional methods may be inadvisable, especially if the foundation rests on a gravel bed.

Notwithstanding this restriction, there are a number of ways to improve the water-resistance of old foundations. It can be best to tackle the job in phases as the first step we recommend is simple, and may be sufficient to do the trick. If not, you can add other layers of protection until you solve the problem.

Phase 1 – Get Rid of Surface Water

The water has to come from somewhere and there’s a good chance it comes from rain that’s making its way into the ground around your foundation. The main culprit is most likely to be the roof, because the gutters discharge in such concentrated places. However it can also flow across the ground if the yard slops towards the house. Solving this is simple and usually well within the scope of a fit homeowner.

  • Create a natural fall from the house so rainwater can’t get trapped and pool before it soaks into the foundations


  • Build a concrete or grouted brick path around the house that extends a few feet beyond the eaves. Grade this gently to encourage water to flow away from your foundation.


  • Check that the gutters are in good condition and discharge smoothly. Lay open drains from the bottom of the gutter down pipes to a point six feet away from your foundation.

With these strategies in place it’s possible that you have removed the causes of your problem and that your basement cellar will dry out naturally next summer.

Old stone foundation in Toronto home

Phase 2 – Tackle the Groundwater Next

If your damp problem continues, (although it should be considerably less by now) then the source of the remaining damp may be flowing through the ground. Unfortunately your foundation wall may not be sufficiently robust to expose it, in which case you may need to dig a trench around the inside perimeter of your foundation, lay a french drain system (also called a Weeping Tile System)along the bottom and top it up with coarse gravel.

This should hold the groundwater in the trench where you can pump it out (or lead it naturally away if the land allows for this). With a little bit of luck this, and the surface water strategy mentioned previously will completely solve the problem, because there is no water left to seep into your cellar.  The only thing to know is that when you install an interior French Drain/Weeping Tile system, the water is still coming in through your foundation, it is just being managed when it comes in and diverted away from your basement.  Over the long term you can still see foundation erosion issues due to this ongoing water issue with your foundation.  An exterior French Drain/Weeping Tile system as catch the water before it hits your foundation and divert the water away and saving your foundation.

brick foundation in toronto home

Phase 3 – Tackle the Problem from the Outside

If none of these remedies work then your last option is to waterproof your foundation from the outside.  This would consist of an exterior French Drain/Weeping Tile system along with digging around the outside of your foundation and applying a waterproofing membrane to the exterior of your foundation.

While exterior waterproofing is the most expensive option it is also the only 100% way to full waterproof your basement and protect the integrity of your foundation over the long term.

Do you live in Toronto and have an older foundation?  Not sure what’s the best method to stop water leaking through it?  Give us a call at 416-622-7000, we provide a free in-home inspection and estimate.  Contact us today to schedule a free estimate.

The following two tabs change content below.


Waterproofing & Foundation Specialists at Nusite Contractors Ltd
As a family-owned waterproofing and foundation repair business with over 30 years of experience in Toronto, we are proud of our work and stand by it with a full warranty. We’re a service company, working for you. We make sure our customers understand the entire building and repair process, and ensure that our work is done properly and made to last.

Latest posts by Nusite (see all)