Making Foundation Repairs Yourself

When you start thinking about weatherproofing your house, look down. You may need to make foundation repairs.

| September/October 1984

Quite often homeowners are so busy insulating, caulking, and weatherstripping obvious energy leaks that they fail to check their homes' foundations for the kind of seepages that can cause cold floors (and feet), higher-than-need-be utility bills, frozen water pipes, and drafts up walls and around heat ducts.

After years of being exposed to cold, rain, and snow, the mortar that holds together the foundations (usually block, rock, or brick) of older homes tends to develop holes and cracks. It takes only a few minutes to determine whether your underpinning needs attention, and better still, just a few sparetime hours to make the foundation repairs.

What Can You Do?

There are two ways to stop such leakage without having to resort to building a new foundation, and, surprisingly, the more expensive method is not in most cases the best.

The first process — and the least effective, to my way of thinking — is to put fiberglass batts or roll insulation on the inside of the leaking wall. You see, it's virtually impossible to recover the cost of this repair in energy savings over a reasonable period of time, and though this procedure may stop the leaks, it doesn't stop the deterioration.

The alternative is to tuck point or plaster (or both) the bulwark. These jobs can be accomplished in a few hours even by a novice, and the raw materials are not costly.

What You'll Need

The supplies necessary for pointing and plastering include masonry-grade cement, sand, and water. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The author recommends masonry cement because it is finely ground and thus quite adhesive, and also because it contains additives that control the setting time and add waterproofing.] Each project will require a different amount of grout, but a 94-pound sack of cement (about $4.50) and 2 cubic feet of sand (around $16.00 a cubic yard) should carry you through a weekend of plugging the gaps — and even leave you with filler for the children's sandbox!

3/4/2015 7:41:20 AM

You should really put some information in this article about old lime mortar versus cement mortars. Newer mortars contain cement which can actually destroy pre 1040 softer brick.

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