Need foundation advice for an old home

We have a 100 yr old home with a brick foundation. The mortar is receding and we have a few areas with cracks. What is the best way to preserve the foundation so it lasts longer and doesn't continue to deteriorate?
q need foundation advice for an old home, concrete masonry, concrete repair, home maintenance repairs, minor home repair
  22 answers
  • Darnaga Darnaga on Jul 24, 2016
    En France, ces briques sont surtout utilisées dans le Nord où il pleut beaucoup. Essayez à un endroit de l'humidifier régulièrement et a petites doses. Nous avons ce genre de problème en période de canicule.

  • Delores Snellen Delores Snellen on Jul 24, 2016
    You can have the bricks repointed (?)(new mortar ) and then seal all of it a sealer. That will keep the water from penetrating the bricks and mortar

  • Sue Kiene Sue Kiene on Jul 24, 2016
    Delores has it. If the mortar is loose it needs to come out and new put in. Let dry and then seal. Where it just has receded new can be added. Where there are cracks, if they are fairly large add some flexible caulk, if small just mortat over. Happens all the time even with houses that are not as old as yours. Every year or 2 look it over again and see if there are any places that need attention. Good luck.

    • Connie Connie on Jul 25, 2016
      Thanks for the advice. I need to search for a contractor. Probably will be pricey but it might save the foundation. It's not terrible right now but I'm afraid down the road it will keep deteriorating.

  • Susan Bechamp Susan Bechamp on Jul 24, 2016
    Don't let this go, it only gets worse and ore expensive. Google "mortar repair" or" tuck pointing", or look on You Tube. If you want to hire it out, make sure the mason is licensed.

    • Connie Connie on Jul 25, 2016
      Thanks for the advice. It's going on my "to-do" list.

  • Johnchip Johnchip on Jul 24, 2016
    Have you checked to see if this brick coursing is the support foundation or just a veneer? If it is the actual support, you have a serious structural problem you need to address ASAP. Your floors can sag, walls crack, windows leak, roof fall. I would get a couple professional free estimates just to see what the issues really are and your options for repair. You might then decide to DIY. But I would not DIY something this potentially serious based on internet 'advice' without professional advice first.

    • Connie Connie on Jul 25, 2016
      Good question. It is the support of the foundation. The same brick outside is what I see in my basement. It's a 100 year old home. I will be searching out a contractor for advice. Thanks

  • Ski7667831 Ski7667831 on Jul 24, 2016
    I had my bricks repointed by a mason and painted the foundation myself. It looks great. My house was built in the late 1800's.

  • Mari Detto Mari Detto on Jul 24, 2016
    We had ours repointed by a mason on our 1890's home. He removed the loose mortar and replaced with mortar that he mixed to match the old mortar. It was far less expensive than we thought it would be, less than 1K.

  • Mcgypsy9 Mcgypsy9 on Jul 24, 2016
    The best place to look for these contractors is . They are advised by the HGTV CHANNEL which if you are not familiar with, do a lot of home improvement shows. Oh and it's free to join the sight. You can look for the type of contractor you will need which for this would probably be a mason.

  • Gelinda Gelinda on Jul 24, 2016
    You can buy jacks just for this problem , go under your house and determine where the jacks needs to go , figure out how many jacks you will need and where they will go , dig holes , they don't have to be deep , Now get some concrete and put it in the holes , let dry ! Now place the jacks on the concrete and start jacking it up just enough to take the weight off of what has settled ...Be Very careful !! The jacks will stay in place ... I I had the very same problem , My house in the back is sitting on a hill and over the years it had dropped and was pushing the blocks out .it was getting serious ...My contractor who has been doing this for 40 or more years did this to my house ...he had just got done with one historical 2 storey that needed 19 jacks under it ..luckily my very small home just need 3 ...he fixed the blocks that was pushing out and now I don't have to worry about my house falling off it's foundation ...hope this helps..but remember be careful !

    • See 2 previous
    • Gelinda Gelinda on Jul 25, 2016
      Yes Connie I would ! My blocks was also a part of my foundation , over the years as my house dropped in the back pushing them out ..the blocks was helping hold up my house my contractor put the jacks in , then he pushed the blocks back in ...but now a lot , not all of the weight is on the jacks ...and he has been doing this for a long time so I trusted him .. Mine had got really bad because I waited but I am comfortable now knowing my house is not going to fall .

  • Pacia Parker Pacia Parker on Jul 24, 2016
    I have an 1800's house in earthquake country. In the 60's we had the jack system as described by Gelinda above. In 2005 we had an engineer come look at the foundation & jacks. He said it was unsafe. Our jacks were leaning! We got a contractor to run two steel beams under the house to support it while he dug out the old bricks and poured a brand new concrete foundation. It wasn't cheap but we didn't have to move out while he did it!

  • Teri Teri on Jul 24, 2016
    You have to use mortar that is special mixture. If you use mortar that is used on new homes your bricks will crack because they are softer than new bricks. Look in some of the old homes magazines for mortar mixes. Old house web has a forum you can join and ask questions relevant to the period of your home..

  • Totally correct about using the proper mortar!

  • Judy smith Judy smith on Jul 25, 2016
    unless the man of the house is a brick mason you need a professional , this is not a do it yourself fix. Find a reliable house contractor.

  • Johnchip Johnchip on Jul 25, 2016
    Are any of your doors or windows closing funny, any slopes in floor (see if marbles roll), sinkholes in gardens, excess damp spots in basement? Get a couple guys in and let's see what ideas they come up with. Betcha they will all come to a few similar solutions, and others different. Take the majority rule solution.

  • Connie Connie on Jul 25, 2016
    The house has some small cracks in the walls. The basement does get wet on heavy rains and it has some small foundation cracks. For the most part though for being 100 years old it's pretty square yet. I was hoping to catch the problem before it becomes a large problem. We are finally taking down the 80-100 year old Silver Maples that are about 15 feet away from the house. I love this house even with all it's imperfections.

  • Sue Kiene Sue Kiene on Jul 25, 2016
    I I do not think it will be terrible based on your picture. I would try a chimney repair or maybe a brick mason. I would ask lots of questions when they came to look at it and be there to watch the job so you can learn what to do and how to do it. Then you will know what to do to maintain in the future.

  • Mari Detto Mari Detto on Jul 25, 2016
    It cost 900 dollars and they did it in one day. They chiseled out the loose mortar and replaced it with "historically correct" color mortar. Our home is in an area that has strict historic guidelines, all exterior work has to be approved. We were in the middle of restoring our home and several craftsmen always stopped by for work and one of the was a brick mason. We didn't get any other quotes and feel for the work done we got a good deal. We do most project ourselves but this was one we left to an expert. Most estimates are free, usually they can walk around, look and give you a price. Good Luck!

    • Connie Connie on Jul 26, 2016
      Thanks for the feedback. I would pay that for repairing the mortar. My husband likes to do DIY's around the house but this one requires more expertise.

  • Gelinda Gelinda on Jul 26, 2016
    I actually didn't notice that my home had settled from being inside my home , no cracks in the walls , doors was closing for the most part ok . But when you seen it from the out side you could see something was going on A home that is over a hundred years old such as your home Connie will have some cracks , as you all ready no .it doesn't really sound like yours is that bad.I have learned over the years that contractors will tell you that you need one thing when you actually need something else so ask at least 3 different ones .And make sure they are real contractors and not Mr fix it that is only capable of fixing a door lock .

    • Connie Connie on Jul 26, 2016
      Thanks, good advice. I think I will get a few different masons in to find out what they would do. The last thing I want is a sloppy job.

  • Ski7667831 Ski7667831 on Jul 26, 2016
    I had several estimates. Some included stuccoing which I didn't want. I paid $1,000. They removed the loose mortar and filled in all of the gaps.

  • Geri Geri on Jul 26, 2016
    I would recommend you consult a 'foundation specialist' ... they may cost a little more than a DIY/handyman, but far less than rebuilding the house! They can repair the damage, and they can also diagnose what may be causing it (drainage, footings, termites) and prevent future damage. It is always worth the investment to preserve your beautiful old home!

  • Sue Kiene Sue Kiene on Jul 27, 2016
    Geri, from what I can see a foundation specialist is not really needed based on the picture. Many make recommendations for a lot more work than is required and then again the cost goes up greatly for work you did not need in the first place. I am not saying that you should not have one look at your foundation, connieboll, to compare what they have to say to what other contractors/workmen have to say as well as comparing pricing. Geri, does the house look like it is falling down or in need of major repairs and based on what connieboll stated in her verbage, don't you think talking about having to rebuild the house is a lot excessive??

  • Connie Connie on Jul 28, 2016
    Sue, you are right we have two metal pole supports in the basement that hold up the floor. The house is pretty square yet, not perfect but no major cracks inside and out. I don't show it on the picture but there are a few small foundation crack on the outside. I was thinking if we re-do the mortar as suggested it would keep the integrity of the brick foundation longer. Thanks for all the advise. It's good to way out all options. We will get a few different masons or contractors to look at it. It made it 100 years so far so I don't think it will change overnight.

    • Sue Kiene Sue Kiene on Jul 29, 2016
      Metal pole supports are normal to assist dispensing the weight of the house. Many old houses had wood ones. My 10 year old house has lots of them. Small foundation cracks are pretty normal. I think you are right that it just needs a "little" attention. Small cracks can become bigger especially if the weather works at them. Rain, freezing, thawing, etc. Yes you want to preserve the foundation but the house is not gonna fall down around you tomorrow or even the day after so take your time and get the information you need.