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waterproofing an older home

Drying Out History: Waterproofing Virginia’s Older Homes

Why is it so hard to waterproof older houses?

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waterproofing an older home

Richmond, VA, has some of the most beautiful historic homes in the whole United States. Along with that history, though, comes a few waterproofing problems that modern homes don’t have to deal with.

The good news is that there are waterproofing options available to you if you live in an older home. Unfortunately, they’re going to be harder to implement than they would be if you lived somewhere else.

Why? Let’s take a gander at some of the differences between waterproofing new and old homes so you can better budget for your historic repairs.

What Causes Leaks in Older Houses?

Richmond’s original residents used their basements for different things that an average family today does. For example, where basements can nowadays double as entertainment areas or even full suites, they were once primarily pantries or places to store fuel that a family would need to access to keep the home running.

Even basements that stored food once upon a time wouldn’t need the extensive waterproofing that so many homeowners now see as essential. Partner that lack of waterproofing with a foundation made out of brick or rubble, and you can see how water so easily gets into these older homes.

Other reasons older homes in Richmond tend to flood with such frequency include:

  • A lack of exterior drainage tiles
  • “Flexible” foundations with untreated cracks
  • A lack of a sump pump
  • Poor grading

Waterproofing an Older Home: The Challenges

Naturally, if you want to use your older basement as a place where guests can stay or entertain themselves, you’re going to want to beef up your home’s waterproofing. Here, though, is where the architectural practices of old are actively going to work against you.

While your older home may have a sturdy foundation, it’s not going to have the wall footings that modern homes do. Your basement may not even have an updated floor. As a result, the process of excavating the perimeter of your home can turn your sturdy foundation into a less sturdy support system.

What does this mean for you? Above all else, it means that you should leave the waterproofing of an older home to the professionals. Do not try to DIY your older home waterproofing. If you do, you risk compromising the structural integrity of your home and making any existing problems with your basement or foundation worse.

How to Waterproof an Older Home

If you can’t waterproof your older home from the outside in, what waterproofing solutions can you take advantage of? Luckily, a number of contractors in the Richmond area have come up with solutions designed to help families living in the area’s most historic homes.

These solutions include:

  • Checking your gutters: If your downspouts or gutters aren’t cleared out, the flow of water after it rains could be causing your basement to flood. Make sure to direct water away from your home and back onto your lawn to limit your basement’s exposure to hydrostatic pressure.
  • Make a pass through your crawl space: Crawl spaces are as common as basements in Richmond if not more so. Take a look at your crawl space and see if you can spot any leaks. If you’re able to spot one, you can easily get in touch with a local contractor and invest in insulation and/or encapsulation. Both processes will help you keep the rest of your basement dry.
  • Work with a contractor to seal any visible cracks: As mentioned, you don’t want to try and fill any cracks in your basement on your own. Instead, reach out to a local contractor for a free inspection and ask them what their prices are for crack injections.
  • Invest in a temporary sealant: Temporary sealants, as their name suggests, aren’t going to keep your basement dry forever. If you want a quick fix to a leak, however, a temporary sealant will give you the time you need to research more comprehensive waterproofing solutions.
  • Consider installing a sump pump: Speaking of more comprehensive waterproofing solutions, you can always install a sump pump in your home. These pumps will gather up the water that would otherwise damage your belongings and pump it out of your basement and away from your home’s foundation so it doesn’t immediately flood your basement again.
  • Seal or replace your window wells: If water isn’t getting into your home via a crack, then you’re going to want to take a look at your window wells. Unsealed or older window wells can crack over time, and you’ll need to seal or replace them if you want to keep your basement dry.

It may be harder to waterproof an older home than it is to clean up a new one, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Reach out to one of Richmond’s contractors for help retaking your basement today. 

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