1870 house, stone foundation - what about the basement?
We are considering buying an old house that is set on a stone foundation, and the basement is a little scary. I don't have much experience with old homes, so I am hoping that some of you may be able to allay my fears.
The basement has stone/mortar walls and a concrete floor. It is divided into several small areas and houses the laundry, furnace, oil tank and hot water heater. The floor is uneven, has some small cracks, and slopes in various directions. There is a sump pump.
Here's why the basement scares me: there is efflorescence on the stone walls and visible moisture on the floors and the area where the walls meet the floor. I think there is a bit of a runoff problem on the outside of the house.
Is this just your average old basement, or is this something to run from? I would really like to use the basement for storage, as the rest of the house is lacking in that department. I am also worried about having the major systems in a wet basement that looks like it could flood. Is there really a way to make this sort of basement more "finished", at least by making it whitewashed, clean and drier? Or is this just what we'd live with if we buy such an old home? Any potential hazards I haven't mentioned here?
Thanks for your advice!