Basements are the lowest "room" in the home and typically where the mechanical's are installed, storage is placed or some basements are fully converted into a room addition. Basements are usually constructed by poured concrete, concrete block, slate or brick. Newer homes have basements that are poured concrete. Older homes throughout the Albany NY area were built with block, brick, poured concrete or slate.
Issues that CAN occur with older homes that ] were built in the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's with block, brick or slate throughout Albany & the greater capital district is the chance of water intrusion. When cement blocks, bricks or slate are laid over each other during the construction process they are usually held together by some form of concrete.
Over the years these older homes that were built in upstate New York can start to show signs of water intrusion. Water intrusion occurs when water makes its way into the exterior foundation wall, freezes & thaws over the years and slowly deteriorates the concrete/mortor between the concrete block, brick or slate causing water intrusion and leading to small foundation cracks, severe cracks, bowing and or shifting of the foundation walls. Water can also make its way from the foundation floor and corners of the basement. Remember, the entire homes structure rests on the foundation. If the foundation drops, moves or bowes this can lead to cricked door ways, windows, uneven floors and separation/additional openings within the foundation that can lead to additional water entry and additional damage to the structure. Water intrusion into the basement can vary in severity and prices to prevent/repair can vary from $200-$10,000 or more.
In the Albany NY and greater capital district most sellers fill out a "property disclosure" which is signed by the buyer. In a perfect world the seller would be completely honest and disclose any water entry into the basement that have occurred through out the years. This is not always the case. Hiring a home inspector to perform a home inspection is the safest way to assure that the basement is up to par. A home inspectors job is to perform a in depth home inspection to determine if deterioration in the foundation has occurred, why or when it has occurred and was there previously water intrusion. Your local home inspector should be able to determine the severity of the issue and recommend a qualifying professional who can further assist.
Water intrusion is a complex issue. Looking at some pictures with an explanation from previous home inspections can paint a clearer picture. Lets take a look at some pictures and see what may be happening.