Fieldstone foundation re-pointing help


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Old 06-14-14, 06:33 PM
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Fieldstone foundation re-pointing help

I purchased a large building constructed in 1888 that has a field-stone and brick foundation. I recently decided to replace the basement stairs and removed the paneling that had originally covered the foundation walls.

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I found the mortar to be crumbling in spots while other spots were sturdy, yet a small chisel was enough to break it apart without the assistance of a hammer. The brick section is fine as it is above grade and only the stone resides below grade. I know this problem came from a gutter spout that pointed directly at the foundation for an unknown number of years (this was due to the previous occupants who neglected most major aspects of repair and maintenance in the building). The exterior landscape is a paved parking lot, but the gutter spout just so happened to drain directly into a small portion where the asphalt has come up and allows it to drain into the soil.

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Structurally speaking, the building and foundation are in great shape. There are no sags or any noticeable settling issues as this building was built very solid. The first owner of the building was a tycoon in the local mill industry so I imagine he spared no expense in its construction as evidenced by the rest of the building. From what I can tell, the stones are comprised of large granite slabs and boulders (correct me if I'm wrong), with smaller stones packed in the gaps between the larger ones. There was about 4-5 inches of mortar between the stones and very large gaps and channels behind that. I was able to reach my arm up to my elbow inside the wall, and I could tell it went further back so I knew the stones were huge.

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My question ultimately boils down to how to repair or re-point this wall. What kind of mortar should I use and how far should I pack the gaps? Masonry is new to me, but I am pretty handy and can get it done with the right information. From the research that I've done, lime mortar or 'type s' seems to be the way to go for most field-stone foundations. I know however, that my foundation is unlike a typical home from its time. I've read on other forums that in some cases (larger stones and boulders), the mortar is not structural. Does my foundation need to breathe, as lime mortar allows, or do the large gaps in the middle of the foundation provide this instead?

I have found so many opinions on this so I decided that it might be best to present my unique case and hope others can shed some light on the situation. If anyone needs any further info on the foundation or building, I will try to help in any way possible.

Thanks in advance and I appreciate any helpful information regarding this.
 
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Old 06-14-14, 08:29 PM
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"Structurally speaking, the building and foundation are in great shape."

So you think now something needs to be done, since lasting just 126 years without issues isn't good enough? I'm not a field stone foundation expert, but I don't understand your line of reasoning. I'd redirect the gutter downspout and build the stairs, period.
 
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Old 06-15-14, 03:06 AM
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there was just a recent episode on this old house - think it was in ct, too, iirc

its easy enough to have a local masonary supply yard look @ the mortar & give you a match,,, might have to pump it into the voids,,, if its lasted 126yrs, how much longer would its integrity be assured if you DIDN'T maintain the bldg ?

i don't understand not doing anything but that's IF it were my building - maybe if you were going to flip it but i don't think that's the case,,, in any event, a mason w/grey hair will have have seen something like your problem before

good luck !
 
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Old 06-15-14, 05:33 AM
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I plan on keeping the building as it is a commercial property and have future plans of putting a cafe in the basement. If it's not maintained, I'm not sure how the integrity would last over the next 100 years. I figured that taking on the mortar project would be beneficial since the wall is already open and leaving large gaps or holes might allow critters and other pests a way into the building (not that they don't have enough places already). The previous owners owned the building for the last 40 years, so it's hard to say how long that gutter spout has been draining into the foundation like that.

In any case, I will contact the local masonry yard and figure out a plan for this, thanks
 
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Old 06-15-14, 05:42 AM
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"So you think now something needs to be done, since lasting just 126 years without issues isn't good enough?"

Even if it's structurally sound, I feel like doing nothing isn't really an option. Small stones still need to be replaced and mortared back in, and some of the older mortar is still coming out. Plus I would like to seal any large gaps to prevent pests and the like from getting in even easier.

I would rather do more work than necessary, rather than have the "it's good enough" mentality.
 
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Old 06-15-14, 03:17 PM
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attaboy,,, to do nothing would only hasten the disintegration of a fine old bldg
 
 

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