Historic home building science issues

Yesterday we posted this picture asking for your thoughts on the building science issues. Here are the issues we found:


  1. Notice that the home owners have extended the downspout in an effort to fix this problem, but issues still exist.
  2. There is fungus growing on the exposed rock indicating the drainage is not right. Water is pooling next to the foundation which could lead to moisture issues in the crawl space. It could also undermine the foundation wall over time as the ground dries out through different seasons.
  3. There is also landscape complications with bushes that have become overgrown. This will tend to push moisture onto the wood siding and hold it there. Wood siding will absorb the moisture, pushing / pulling it into the wall system. If there is insulation in the cavity, there is a good chance it will get wet diminishing the effectiveness. Enough moisture could also lead to rot and mold growth if not allowed to dry out.
  4. Another issue is the stone foundation. This is a hard issue to correct, but should be monitored. The old stacked stones work well to give a solid foundation when done right, however, the rocks will wick water into the wall system without fail. This leads to rot and mold issues if it is not allowed to dry.
  5. There is also a good chance that termites can get into the walls without detection as their tunnels can be built between rocks on the inside or outside of the foundation wall.

Anything else I missed, please add your thoughts in the comments section!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. It has been rental property for many years judging by the bandaid, quick fix maintenance, exposed plumbing and electrical.

    If this corner is an example then the house has more problems than building science, extensive energy loss problems.


  2. Not a rental, just an old house that has had many quick fixes done to it. We did a whole house renovation, added a second floor on part of the house and a kitchen addition. We also cut the energy usage by 64%. Cleaning up all the patches over time will certainly increase your home’s performance, it will also reduce your annual maintenance. Thanks for commenting Blake!


  3. B. Anderson says:

    This is a common issue amongst old historic homes. The original house was built well, however, later additions create problems that go unnoticed for years.
    The picture shows Moss buildup, not mold. You must never state mold is present unless you you are an environmental expert. (Note: always say fungus to avoid future legal issues)
    With this said, moss buildup almost always indicates excessive amounts of water in the area. The moss on the rock foundation indicates water splash back. Possibly water from gutters not draining properly. Moss is also visible on the ground, indicating pooling and standing water. Negative grading around the foundation can ecelerate deterioration of the foundation, and cause disruption of the soil around the house. Picture a dry sponge, (small and hard). when the sponge gets wet, it gets soft and two times larger than it was. This is what happens to the soil.
    The downspout should discharge 6 feet away from the foundation per 45 degree distance from base of foundation. This downspout is far too short!!!
    Vegetations planted around the house should be no closer than 5 feet away from house. Different plants have different size root balls. These root balls create a natural void in the soil, promoting moisture toward the foundation.
    Assuming the siding is still the original redwood installed on turn of the century homes, the bowing at the base may indicate movement to the foundation stone walls.
    In short water creates a large host of problems with a house/foundation. It is never good for a house, if you want it to last!!!
    Bronson Anderson
    Owner of Inspector Homes, Inc.


  4. Mr. Anderson, great analysis. Thanks for your thoughts on the water issues. We did in fact find some movement in the home and secured the foundation during the renovation.


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