Basement fieldstone walls get damp for various reasons. The first reason is the rising dampness which occurs when moisture rises from the ground to the wall. The second reason is penetrating dampness which happens as a result of faulty walls and cracks. And the final reason is the condensation that happens as a result of the behavioral habits of people in the house, like bathing, washing, and cooking. So, how do you care for a damp fieldstone basement in your home?
1. Keep the Walls in Good Repair
Fieldstones exist in different forms. That’s why you must look for the best quality to build your wall. But what if you have an existing fieldstone wall you need to maintain? Always monitor the walls to notice any fault because any leak will result in a damp fieldstone basement.
How did the ancient people perform fieldstone basement repair? To date, fieldstone structures are maintained or repaired by replacing any stone that falls off. The gap that would be left after falling off is what allows water into the basement. So, repair your basement by first fixing the same size stone on the gap.
Secondly, you need crushed stones to fill the gaps in the wall. The crushed stones prevent rainwater or water from leaking pipes from seeping into the basement. But what’s the ratio when using crushed stones and fieldstones? Generally, use the ratio of 1:6. That is, one part crushed stone for every 6 part fieldstone.
Moreover, ensure the wall base remains undisturbed with the compacted soil to prevent faults. Fieldstone walls develop faults when it rains, and the foundation remains weak. And finally, ensure the wall is well caped. Capping the wall; is placing the heaviest stones to press weight on the smaller stones. The heavier weight helps to keep the stores in the same position to avoid shifting in case of slight vibrations.
2. Keep Moisture and Humidity Levels in Check
If you always experience a damp fieldstone basement during winter or rainy season, then it isn’t a wise decision to stock it with many items. Storing children’s bikes, gardening tools, old TVs, and damaged car parts will worsen the situation.
Leaving the area clean or with a few items is one of the effective wet basement solutions. Heat and light will circulate easily within the basement to reduce moisture. The second solution is to keep the windows open on the ground floor. This will allow fresh air to circulate in the basement, reducing the mixture and humidity.
Look for gaps within the wall that may allow humid air from the outside. Normally, fieldstone walls form holes around the capping or the corners. If you find a hole, use crushed stones to fill it and prevent water or humid air.
Suppose the basement was built with several ventilations; get some polythene bags and seal them temporarily during cold and wet seasons. On the other hand, if you have a fireplace in the basement, it’s time to make use of it. You can also raise the AC’s temperature level by tuning the thermostat. The final solution is to get a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers are excellent devices that help to absorb water vapor to prevent mold and mildew growth. They will also prevent the fieldstone walls from damage.
3. Install a Sump Pump
Installing a sump pump is another hassle-free way to maintain your damp fieldstone basement. The sump pump is installed at the lowest part of the basement. It’s a self-activating electrical pump that pumps out the rising groundwater to prevent moisture from forming.
A sump pump is fixed in a sump pit or sump trench. The pit’s size recommendations are 24 inches deep and 18 inches wide. This size is enough to ensure the pump float does not jam. During the sump pump installation, the technician will place the float, which acts as a sensor, in the pit. And once it senses rising water, it will activate the electric pump.
The pump draws water from the basement and discharges it to a safe place far from the building through pipes. Nevertheless, there are three common sump pump types. The first one is the pedestal pump that sits above the water level. These pumps are less expensive and cheaper to maintain. However, they are noisy.
Another sump pump type is the submersible pump. It sits below the water level and is considered the quietest pump. However, it’s more expensive than the pedestal but has a longer lifespan. The last type is the water-powered sump pump. It’s used as a backup pump in case the main pump fails.
4. Maintain Your Sump Pump
Since sump pumps are automatic devices, you may forget about maintaining them. And with time, unfortunately, you will have a damp fieldstone basement. So what do you do? Never wait until you smell a bad odor or experience high moisture from the basement.
After pump installation, schedule routine maintenance. Ideally, have a monthly and quarterly cleaning. Then, schedule an annual professional inspection. During the monthly cleaning, check the inlet and the outlets to remove debris. Debris can reduce the pump’s performance or cause the motor to strain and eventually fail.
On the other hand, if you perform the monthly check, a quarterly check would not be necessary. Only ensure the inlet screen and the power supply are in good condition. Every time you clean the sump pump, pour the water into the pit and pump it to confirm its functioning.
Every year, call a professional to do the other advanced maintenance parts. The professional will perform maintenance tasks like checking the ground fault circuit interpreter. The professional will also check the alarm and the backup power source.
5. Prevent Mold Growth
Mold grows in areas with high moisture. So, if you have a damp fieldstone basement, it will be a perfect ground for mold growth. That said, the first step to discouraging mold growth is keeping moisture and humidity levels low. What would you use to keep the moisture low?
The number one method is the use of a dehumidifier. The second option is to check on the leaky foundation. To address the rising dampness, always have a sump pump to draw increasing water from the ground and dispose of it in a safer environment away from the house.
Another solution is to add ventilation for air circulation. That entails the hot air from the baseboard heaters and the air from the exterior through the windows. Another option is water damage restoration, for example, the plumbing lines.
If you have water pipes around the basement, ensure they don’t leak. In the same case if you have a sewer line around the basement, call a professional to scan for any leaks and swap the piping with high-quality brands. The final solution to discouraging mold is cleaning the affected areas. Ideally, use your dishwashing soap or a mixture of bleach and water. This will kill the mold and mildew.
6. Keep Excess Water Out of Your Septic System
Some homes have underground septic tanks built near the foundation. It worsens if the home has a basement because it equals the depth of the septic tank. What would happen if the water managed to seep into the basement? You will have a damp basement with a foul odor.
Many homeowners buy houses without knowing septic tanks are built very close to the house. As such, they end up facing consequences like the damp fieldstone basement when sewage seeps through the ground to the house.
Also, during rainy seasons, a lot of water can find its way into the underground septic tank. And when it gets full, water finds its way out. The best solution is to have proper drainage around the home. This will prevent runoff water from getting into the septic area.
Secondly, ensure no bathing or dishwashing water is directed to the septic tank. It will help reduce the amount of water that would exert pressure to seep into the basement. The final solution is to schedule regular septic emptying once or twice a year.
7. Fix Slab Leaks Quickly
Home paving is essential but if unmaintained or done unprofessionally, it can trap water and cause more damage. For instance, if you have slabs laid with spaces underside, they can trap water that will seep slowly into the basement. A slab leak is linked to poor paving or the use of low-quality materials.
The situation where you have a fieldstone wall forming the basement can be the worst. If water consistently flows into the crushed stones, it may weaken the joints and find its way inside. In the end, you will have a damp fieldstone basement.
Call professional pavers to maintain your pavements before the rainy season every year. And while doing a fresh paving project, ensure the foundation is well laid with recommended materials to promote good drainage.
8. Call Emergency Plumbers at the First Sign of Trouble
When you notice the sewage or the clean water is getting into the basement, call 24 hour emergency plumbers immediately. Why? Because a damp basement will encourage mold and mildew growth, which is bad for your health.
Secondly, flooded water in the basement can damage the whole foundation. Damage to the foundation can lead to bigger losses because the authorities will request you demolish the house. A damp fieldstone basement also may encourage pests to settle around, which can also be dangerous to humans.
So, what signs should you see to call a plumber? The first sign is the water dripping or flowing around the basement. It can damage the house very fast. The second sign is the stains around the wall. If there are water pipes installed around, it will save you the water loss as a result of leakages. But the most traumatizing situation is when hydronic baseboard heater pipes start to leak hot water. You face the risk of fire around the home.
9. Install Corrosion-Resistant Plumbing
For many homeowners, plumbing seems like a long-term investment. But not if you have used hard water at your home. Hard water can take a toll on plumbing and also household equipment. That’s why installing water pipes around the wall can be risky because they may rust and leak without notice. Ultimately, you will suffer the consequences of a damp fieldstone basement.
Luckily, corrosion-resistant materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are very common and helpful. Most plumbing services in residential and commercial buildings involve the installation of either PVC or stainless steel pipes. In fact, the global PVC pipe market reached 27.74 million tons in 2022.
Further, according to the report, the market is expected to grow to 35.71 million tons by 2028. This is because many contractors look for durable materials that withstand harsh weather and hard water. That said, investing in corrosion-resistant plumbing items can save you the hassle of repairing the fieldstone basement regularly.
10. Consider Extensive Waterproofing Services
Extensive waterproofing methods for your fieldstone basement will save you much on maintenance. A professional basement waterproofing specialist can help you get rid of the underground and the water seeping through the walls.
The first waterproofing method is the exterior basement waterproofing method. It involves the use of polymers and membranes to coat the exterior wall. By coating the wall, you prevent water from seeping through the fieldstone walls. Unfortunately, this method is the best when constructing a house.
The second method is the interior sealants. These temporary waterproofing methods monitor the humidity from the atmosphere to keep the basement dry. Interior sealants are also best for preventing moisture from moving to other rooms.
Finally, you can request your basement remodeler to install the interior water drainage. The interior water drainage is a system that helps reduce the water in the basement by directing it below the basement floor. However, installing these systems in an existing house can be costly because they need much labor to drill the foundation.
Keeping your fieldstone structures retains the old age beauty. No wonder many homeowners use them for hardscaping around the yard. But if you have these stones as your basement wall material, you don’t have to worry about maintaining them. Practice the above damp fieldstone basement solutions.