I have gotten estimates from some contractors for installing indoor drainage in my basement. They'd be breaking into the concrete floor around the edges of the basement, right next to the basement walls. The basement walls are brick, the home is about a hundred years old. I'm told there's a good chance there is no footing under the walls.

One, but only one, contractor said it would be necessary to pour concrete as they go in order to sort of create on-the-fly footing.

Other contractors did not mention this.

But the guy who did mention it said he thinks his company is the only one that takes this lack of footing into account when doing this kind of work (plausible?) and that it's very important to do so (true?)

So my questions are, is it dangerous and how dangerous is it to install this kind of drainage system in a home without footing, and is it plausible that only one company in Indianapolis actually does anything to alleviate that danger when installing this kind of drainage?

  • You're getting a sales-job on the "more than twice as expensive" option based on your prior question. How long has your home managed to stand as built? Are neighboring homes collapsing around you? Hmm.... – Ecnerwal Jun 4 at 17:13
  • See those are my thoughts too. Granted not all these homes are as old as mine. But, though there's some slight bowing in the basement walls, the house has stood firm for a hundred years right? I am wondering if wisdom here is to grade the yard first, which appears to me to be an under a thousand dollar diy job even for nonexperience diy'ers like me, and just see if I still see moisture in the basement during heavy rains. (I've already replaced teh roof and gutters and downspouted everything away from the house.) – user3752935 Jun 4 at 17:33
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    Fixing the grade is always job one unless you are going to dig around the outside for drainage, in which case it's job two and often also three after it settles a year later. – Ecnerwal Jun 4 at 17:51
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    Grading first. I wouldn't touch a basement if I knew there were grading issues. Also adding footers to a building with no issues has the chance to introduce issues. For older homes we don't touch footers, support beams, any of those things... unless there is good reason to. – DMoore Jun 4 at 18:27
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    Can you describe the specific problem the proposed indoor drainage is meant to resolve? – whatsisname Jun 4 at 19:19

There are a lot of houses that are built on soil that only requires a footing the same thickness as the foundation. If the footing is the same width as the wall you could technically claim there is no footing.

The width of the footing is based on the load of the house and the bearing capacity of the soil. Often 100 years ago basements weren't for living in and some moisture and cracks in the foundation were acceptable.

The biggest concern I'd have living in a house like that is radon. Indiana isn't noted for low radon gas. The second is going to be moisture. The third is going to be thermal performance and comfort.

Even if you have the grade outside correct and account for ground water - assuming your basement is never below the ground water table - there are other things to be concerned about.

I've taken 100 year old houses, blown out the slab, underpinned the foundation (adding a footing wider than the wall) while also adding height to the basement, added a powered sump pit, added interior perimeter drain, added drain rock, added slab insulation, added a moisture/radon barrier ( you might also want an active/passive radon mitigation system ), and put back a slab. As you can imagine it isn't a super cheap option. Excavating outside and sealing the exterior wall from water and adding a perimeter drain system is typically the preferred approach but if you are already doing the slab work it can be more cost effective to use interior perimeter drain.

What to do depends on budget, how long you plan to keep the house and your usage of the basement.

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