Many people love the charm and beauty of older homes. However, one of the less charming aspects of older homes is a damp, moist basement. Most people worry about basements being wet, especially because basements can be a source of additional living space if they can be finished. So why is water a big issue in older homes?


It's important to realize that older basements were never designed to be living spaces. New homes with unfinished basements are still wires and and prepared for future finishes, including bathrooms or even wet bars. 

In the days when historic houses were built, the basements were used to store food through the winter, to keep coal or other fuel for heating, or to provide a space for safety in severe storms. They also had another purpose: they could be used to help control moisture in the home when things like dehumidifiers and sump pumps had not yet been invented. 

Older houses have more "breathable" foundation designs. They have rubble or brick foundations that allow for moisture leeching. This was not problematic, because the water would drain or recede in drier times, helping the house to stay at equilibrium, protecting the foundation from cracking from the pressure of exterior groundwater. 

Modern Solutions

The functions of the basement have changed with the modern lifestyle. Basements are no longer used for coal storage and storm cellars. They are used to store belongings that need to stay dry, and they provide extra living space in a world where living takes more room than it used to. 

You can absolutely waterproof an old basement to be dry if you know how to approach it. A waterproofing professional can use a combination of methods of keep the water out and to make the basement a safe place for finishes.

First, you'll need to direct water away from the foundation with trenching and weeping tile to reduce the exterior pressure on the foundation. You can also add a vapor barrier or have the basement sealed to prevent leeching. On the inside, the walls can be painted with a coating of waterproofing paint. You can update you basement window boxes to make sure they are not a source of leaks. Finally, you can install a sump pump as a fail safe to help prevent any flooding from ruining your finishes. You can have sump pumps installed on the interior and exterior of your home, depending on the elevation and nature of your water problems. 

For more information, contact a local basement waterproofing company.