ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Old Stone Foundations

Updated on August 27, 2011

Your house is old, over 80 years. Back then they built things a bit differently. If your foundation is stones, you should know what to expect as a homeowner, because what is normal now was not normal back then.


At this point is history there was a lot of money to go around until the depression hit. Unfortunately, this is when many communities in the Midwest were really starting to get going. What material did they have that was cheap to build foundations? Limestone and a lot of it. The walls were built with the bottoms being several feet thick and the tops being only 1-2' thick. These foundations were and are still prone to water infiltration because the mortar used was made out of clay, sand, and water. When it deteriorated, it allowed water and other particles from the earth outside to enter the basement. There are actually several signs of a healthy stone foundation that will probably last another 100 years, by the way.


Because most of the stone used to build stone foundations is a variation of lime stone, it makes sense that any amount of moisture would produce lime. This looks like a white flaky substance lightly sprawled across your basement wall. This is nothing to be alarmed about. But if you have young children, they will love it in the summer months when moisture is high. My son loved it when he was 2 calling it our "snowy underground". 

This is actually a good sign because it mean that instead of actual water coming in through the basement walls, that moisture is being absorbed by the stone and being released slowly through the stone in the form of sodium or lime salt.

Double Ledge

Many people believe that people built old stone foundations with the bottom so much wider because the foundations would collapse if they didn't. They actually built them that way because when the ground freezes, it pushes on the foundation a lot. The double thick portion is actually two separate walls that are meant to move against each other to keep both of them stable. This was an easy way to keep house foundations from moving so bad that people would have to replace rafters... like barns.

Dirt Floor

If you have a dirt floor, be proud. You are standing in a home that was built by smart people. Why? Because dirt contains and allows moisture to drain. It wasn't until we decided to pour concrete that we had actual basement problems.  The good news if you want to finish off your basement floor, is you have very little work to do and you can install an interior drainage system around the foundation with little cost! 


The simple fact is no one knows how long a poured foundation will last. I have a very rare 1930s home with a poured foundation and I have had to do substantial work because the corners were not properly structured. My old house was built in 1890 and it had a stone foundation. Besides the "snow" on the wall, I never had a problem with it.

Whatever the case may be, don't let a stone foundation frighten you away from buying a great house. Just look for some lime, a double ledge, and have a thorough home inspection done, and you will be set.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Energy Guild profile imageAUTHOR

      Energy Guild 

      7 years ago from Ripon, WI

      Hey Pat,

      The easiest way to move water away from your house is by making sure that you have an operational gutter system with leaders that extend no less than 4 feet from the house. The ground around the foundation should also pitch away from the house approximately 1/4 inch per foot. An easy way to check this is by putting a 4 foot level on the ground next to the house and measuring down the distance from the bottom of the level to the ground when the level reads level. If the ground is pitching toward the house, then you need to remove soil or add soil around the perimeter of the foundation so you have positive drainage for a minimum of 8 feet. I hope this helps. Good luck.

    • profile image

      pat sullivan 

      7 years ago

      my house was built mid 1800s. the old stone foundation only goes about 3ft deep. i live in the northeast but have had no heaving issues.i removed some sand from under my house but did not under mine the i am getting water seeping in.i am looking for way to get the water to drain away from my house to stop this seeping problem.any suggestions?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)