Your home is your palace, and you take great pride in its perfectly manicured lawn, stunning landscape design, and beautiful natural stone. Southeastern Pennsylvania has some of the most historical and gorgeous homes around, and many are built from local stone or with natural stone foundations. Additionally, many homeowners in this region have elected to upgrade their outdoor space with natural stone patios, retaining walls, outdoor kitchens, and more.
But when the stone on your structure begins to bulge, loose stones fall off, or it shows other signs of water damage, you have a right to be worried. After all, the foundation helps give your structure stability. Without a properly formed foundation, everything can fall around you and necessitate stone foundation repair.
But do you need to hire a professional stonemason like us to fix your exterior wall or extruded joint? You likely would rather spend money on something more impressive, like a fire feature, pool deck, or stone walkway. But since home repairs are never fun, usually costly, and often necessary, we want to help our customers identify significant problems with their stone structures and help them decide whether to call for foundation repairs.
Does Stone Foundation Repair Apply to You?
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of natural stone foundations, know that we want to help you identify whether or not you need to hire a stonemason—not tell you how to attempt your own repairs. Stone foundation repair is tricky and varies on a case-by-case basis, so you should always leave it to the professionals, like us here at Dutchies Stoneworks.
With more than 70 years of combined experience, our third-generation stonemasons have been building stone patios, kitchens, outdoor fireplaces, and more. We know what issues to look for when we begin to build a stone foundation, so we also know what issues you need to address over time. You can trust us to give you the best advice on your fieldstone foundation wall.
If you’re doing major renovations on your home or installing a new patio, know that a general contractor will likely look at your foundation and evaluate it. If they spot issues, they may recommend replacing the foundation. Foundation replacements are expensive, so make sure you call in an expert stonemason for a second opinion before you make any costly decisions.
What Are the Reasons Stone Foundations Fail?
If a stone foundation is failing, it could be for several reasons. A lot of the time, it has to do with some type of water damage. Here are four reasons why you could be having water issues with your foundation:
- Improper care of your downspouts could be causing excessive water flow. When your gutters are clogged, water can’t make its way through the downspout to a place safely away from the stone. Instead, it just overflows and falls directly onto your stone. Please be sure to clean out your gutters.
- Movement of soil is natural, but excessive rain could cause it to settle more quickly and crack the foundation. If your foundation is solid stone, there’s usually no harm in a crack.
- There’s improper grading and sloping around your home, causing water and potential flooding issues.
- We live in one of the highest freeze-thaw regions of the world, which can wreak havoc on the mortar joints of your stone foundation. Water seeps into the joints via improper drainage from downspouts or poor grading around your home and moves under the stone. It then freezes and cracks the joints, causing damage and separation.
Water is so detrimental to natural stone foundations that when building a stone wall or laying a new patio, the first thing our stonemasons talk to you about is getting water away from your home. We want your new stone patio or outdoor living space to last a lifetime, not deteriorate after 10 or 15 years due to water damage. That’s why we want to ensure we address the water issue before we do any of these projects.
If your existing stone structure is suffering from the effects of water and it’s weakening the structure, we’ll work with your general contractor to find the best solution possible.
How Do You Fix Damage to Stone Foundations, Patios, or Walls?
The process for fixing your stone structure is technical and should always be done by a professional stonemason or contractor. Stone foundation repair involves a lengthy step-by-step process of chipping out the wall joints, excavating parts of the wall, chipping out portions of it, re-laying damaged parts of the wall, adding a water-proofer, and other steps in between.
With flagstone patios, moisture can collect underneath the stone and cement over time. And if it’s not appropriately graded, it can cause flooding to your foundation all over again. Unfortunately, if your patio has water damage, it may have to be replaced entirely, which may cost more than building a new one from scratch.
We will get the job done right when we install a stone patio, wall, or other structure outside of your home. That way, you avoid further water damage to your stone foundation in the future. Having your stone sealed regularly helps improve its water resistance. We use an impregnating, invisible sealer to provide long-term protection, so get in touch with us to schedule your sealing appointment.
What Are the Signs Your Foundation Needs to be Repaired vs. Replaced?
You may ask yourself, “Was that crack always there?” when looking at your stone foundation. The answer may be “no,” but a crack in your exterior building walls may not always be as detrimental as you think. Some stone damage is typical to see. However, it can also vary in severity.
Look out for these issues in your stone foundation, patio, or wall that may indicate a replacement is necessary:
- Loose Stones
- Bulging or Cracking
- Loose Mortar or Chunks of Mortar Missing
- Excess Moisture
While a little bit of moisture or a crack that has been there for a long time is probably not anything significant to worry about, you’ll need to talk to a professional for a full evaluation for stone foundation repair. Give a stonemason expert like Dutchies a call to help you evaluate what may need to be done to your stone foundation in Southeastern PA.