One of the most common foundation problems for older homes in Toronto is the crumbling of mortar joints between the stones. The repairing process of a stone foundation will depend on several factors since not all repair jobs are the same. However, repairing the bad joints isn’t generally considered to be a big task as long as it’s completed before the basement walls begin to move and the stones fall. Repairing the joints isn’t as expensive as completely rebuilding a wall section.
Using Your Basement as a Living Area
Some stone basements are used as living areas by homeowners, but more commonly, the basement will be used as a storage area for the furnace and water heater etc. And in some cases, the basement isn’t used at all as it’s basically just a foundation and is comparable to a high crawl space. The way the basement is utilized by a homeowner will usually dictate how the repairs will be carried out. If the basement is being used as a living area, then the homeowner will want the finished product to be attractive. If the height of the basement is inadequate for living purposes, basement lowering is also an option.
Appearance is important in this scenario, but it takes more time and work to make sure the basement looks nice after repairing it due to crumbling mortar joints. If the basement is being used as a storage area and to house utilities, then most homeowners aren’t too concerned how attractive the finished wall is as long as it’s been properly repaired. In this case, their main concern is the structural integrity and function of the finished job. The same is true of homeowners who simply use the basement as a foundation.
Repairing a Crumbling Stone Foundation
Repairing crumbling mortar in stone walls is a relatively easy job, but it’s also quite tedious. The rotting and crumbling mortar is taken out and replaced with new mortar. The type of new mortar used is important and it’s generally determined by the condition of the stones and the type of the stones used to construct the wall. A bonding agent is typically used when new mortar is placed in the wall. Many foundations will be rotted in some areas while other areas have held up quite well.
The joints are investigated with a brick hammer by tapping it on them. If there is a hollow sound, then the mortar is replaced. The process is then repeated over and over again, which makes it tedious. In some cases, the dirt and mortar can be blasted out with a high-pressure garden hose. However, it’s important to make sure the stones aren’t disturbed. In most cases though, the old mortar is removed with a brick hammer or a pneumatic hammer.
The crumbling mortar is usually removed from the top down and the wall is cleaned before new mortar joints are installed. It’s essential that the new mortar is placed behind the stone to make sure its bale to bond and bind. Some homeowners with stone basements try to support the floor joists and/or beams as they believe this will help take the weight off the wall. But in reality, this won’t stop the wall from crumbling or moving.
This is because a block or stone wall receives lateral strength from the pressure or weight that’s applied down onto it. If the weight is taken off of the wall there’s a better chance it will fall in, buckle, or move. Of course, the best way to preserve a home’s stone foundation is to replace any crumbling mortar. But until you can get it fixed, you should try to make sure that any ground water around the building’s foundation runs away from it at ground level. This is because dirt is moved by water and it can also move mortar. When you get your foundation repaired usually depend on your schedule and financial budget. When it comes to the cost, you may find it’s less expensive to repair the damage during the winter months when contractors usually aren’t as busy and they may be looking for work.
Have The Condition Of Your Stone Foundation Inspected
If your basement is in really bad shape you may want to consult a professional contracting company to have your foundation repaired or the basement underpinned. Nusite Group offers a free in-home inspection and estimate on all stone foundation issues and consult with you on the several improvement options that may be available to you so you can make an informed choice.