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  1. #1
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    Jul 2009
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    Spokane, WA
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    Default Brick foundation

    Hi all, I don't come across to many brick foundations in these parts but I did today. The home was built in 1933. I would estimate about 16 to 18 inches of foundation is underground in the area of the photos. You can see the mortar powder piling up on the footing. I ran my finger on the mortar joint and it just crumbled. Although it is powdered, there doesn't appear to be an excessive amount of mortar loss at the joints. There is no signs of structural movement, it's a ventilated crawl space and the vapor barrier is good (other than not being black). My guess is that there is no drain tile at the exterior. Is this something I should recommend as a correction or is 78 years of good service from the mortar reasonable on a brick foundation that is below grade? The seller advised that gutters were installed on the home 2 years prior. How would some of you others report this condition?

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  2. #2
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    Feb 2008
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    Caledon, Ontario
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Curious to know if there are gutters on this house?

    Also grading looks flat.

    One cause of the mortar deterioration may be water/moisture leaching?


  3. #3
    Stephen G's Avatar
    Stephen G Guest

    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Look at the right side of the first pic. Count the bricks from grade, using the top of the meter as a ref point. I would suggest that the right side has slope. The left side cannot be determined without a ref point. But I agree that the left side looks flat..

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Curious to know if there are gutters on this house?

    Also grading looks flat.

    One cause of the mortar deterioration may be water/moisture leaching?



  4. #4
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Hi Steve

    Also appears to be a sprinkler head to the left in the first photo.


  5. #5
    Stephen G's Avatar
    Stephen G Guest

    Default Re: Brick foundation

    The first pic appears to be a veneer wall. With repairs noted at the corner, mechanical damage from an auto perhaps.
    The following pics are all foundation wall, not a veneer. You can see the 6 row lock. Two differant walls..

    why would the foundation wall change frrom structural to veneer???


  6. #6
    Stephen G's Avatar
    Stephen G Guest

    Default Re: Brick foundation

    well you gotta water the rocks.......

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Hi Steve

    Also appears to be a sprinkler head to the left in the first photo.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    leonardo, new jersey
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Thats a softer brick with moisture taking its toll for sure...You have to dig a hole and see what you have but typically what I have seen and repaired is to excavate, clean and parge coat exterior brick, install Bituthane 3000 with hydroduct to footing drain. We have a lot of those brick foundations here, that reaction is I believe possibly the break down of the soft high-lime mortar from the constent dampness. Think about that porous brick and mortar being damp in the winter freezing, spring rains, no proper drainage at grade or footing in a non conforming wall under todays standards.

    Joseph Ehrhardt
    Building Forensic Specialist LLC

  8. #8

    Default Re: Brick foundation

    There are different types of mortar used “back in time” so this may be normal. You would need to determine if this is an excessive amount of deterioration given the materials and home and this is likely beyond a home inspection. I would simply report what I see.
    Brick foundation has evidence of mortar deterioration, recommend further evaluation by an engineer who specializes in this type of materials.

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Philadelphia PA
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Curious to know if there are gutters on this house?...
    From original post: "The seller advised that gutters were installed on the home 2 years prior."

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  10. #10
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Zehnder View Post
    There are different types of mortar used “back in time” so this may be normal. You would need to determine if this is an excessive amount of deterioration given the materials and home and this is likely beyond a home inspection. I would simply report what I see.
    Brick foundation has evidence of mortar deterioration, recommend further evaluation by an engineer who specializes in this type of materials.
    I agree with Jeff. If I see mortar deteriorating I alway report it as a problem no matter how old the house is.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Thanks Jeff,

    Did not see the fact there were gutters installed 2 years ago.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    I don't see enough brick foundations to make the call on that one.

    I will always advise perimeter drain work on a house that age. Around here, they connect the downspouts to the foundation drains. After the sludge from the gutters has plugged all the drain tiles, the house starts to get wet feet.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 12-02-2011 at 08:58 PM. Reason: correction
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Spokane, WA
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Thanks everyone for your input. This inspection along with most recently has been difficult. The Realtor that referred me called to discuss the report. She felt that my report makes the home look like a pile. It's actually a very nice home that underwent a huge renovation in 2002. The craftsmanship inside is beautiful. She says she is finding it difficult to refer me business because she knows my reports come with a laundry list. The other "McInspectors" never find anything wrong with the homes so the transaction is smooth and effortless. I guess someone has to die or be sued before they will see the significance of a thorough inspection. Very frustrating. I'm sure you all have experienced what I'm talking about.


  14. #14
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    Oct 2010
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    Southwest US
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Let her know that when the lawsuit happens, she will be on the short list as well as the inspector and you are trying to save her from that.
    An inspection IS a "laundry list", that is what you were hired for. She should know you aren't there to tell the client how nice the home is.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Bill

    Point out to the agent you are not beholden to her, but to your client contractually in order they are able to complete their due diligence unfettered. Its not up to her to decide for YOUR clients what is, or is not satisfactory.

    You are not going to get any future work from her anyway, and I know I would be letting my clients know about her attempt to influence.

    Let her have both barrels. She should not be selling real estate and definitely is not able to comprehend her ethical duties to you and the purchaser.

    This is one reason I do not solicit realtors.


  16. #16
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    Feb 2010
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    Wenatchee Wa
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Bill, That is too bad she takes your reports that way. Oh well. Maybe if she lets her clients know how good you are and that you will find things and we can work through the report and make decisions based on the findings things may be a bit easier and she can be a hero also.

    I hear some of the same things. I take too long on the inspection (I did not know we had a time limit ; ) and my reports are too long yadda yadda. I always think "now if this your home what kind of inspection do you want, Inspector or the guy who willing to do his job?"

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  17. #17
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    May 2009
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    Washington State
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Anglin View Post
    Thanks everyone for your input. This inspection along with most recently has been difficult. The Realtor that referred me called to discuss the report. She felt that my report makes the home look like a pile. It's actually a very nice home that underwent a huge renovation in 2002. The craftsmanship inside is beautiful. She says she is finding it difficult to refer me business because she knows my reports come with a laundry list. The other "McInspectors" never find anything wrong with the homes so the transaction is smooth and effortless. I guess someone has to die or be sued before they will see the significance of a thorough inspection. Very frustrating. I'm sure you all have experienced what I'm talking about.
    Kick the dust off your feet and don't give that realtor another look, she's crooked and dishonest - you'll be fine without her.


  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    United States
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    13

    Default Re: Brick foundation

    I live in Arizona and we seldom get to inspect Brick Foundation like this, Very Cool! The white powder, isn't it efflorescence from the moisture winking through the soft bricks and wouldn't the moisture over time destroy the integrity of those Bricks?

    I had the same problem with a few real estate seals agents, I refer to them as Assembly line agents - they don't give one **** about the customer, just the pay check at the end of the transaction. I have a detailed report, lots of photos and I sleep pretty darn good at night! Phoenix and sounding area has a few million people and about 60,000 agents. A lot of the High volume agents dislike Inspectors let alone a detailed Inspector, it is what it is!

    Good Luck and move on to the next Agent, their out there!

    Nick J Alati
    Alati's Inspection Service LLC

    hhtp://www.AzHomeInspectorOnLine.com
    Phoenix Mold Inspecting, Arizona Mold Sampling, Mold Testing, Air Sampling, Post Remediation Testing & Home Inspections by Alati’s Inspection Service LLC


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Spokane, WA
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Hi Nick, I too would think the brick would suffer deterioration but they appeared to be good. Just the mortar was bad. I did have a long talk with the Realtor and I think we have an understanding. It just so happened that on this house she was the buyers agent and her partner was the sellers agent. It made for some waves between everyone and I think her partner was questioning why she would refer a thorough inspector when they both had so much riding on the sale. Whats funny is that I know the client is still going to buy the house. He's not even asking for repair of the brick foundation. He only wants to make sure the home is safe for his family to move in.
    Many times when I'm introduced to clients through Realtors they say that I am very thorough followed by sometimes too thorough. They would then say but if I were buying a house, this is the guy I would want inspecting it. I was hoping that the new state regulation here in Washington would force the other "McInspectors" to get with the program. If everyone performed a quality inspection, this wouldn't be a problem. I think the regulation has actually had a negative effect. More inspectors than normal have entered the trade. I get asked quite often by others about getting into the business. I think people think it is a way to make a quick buck. One guy said that after 50 inspections or so, it should be pretty easy. I told him we already have too many of those inspectors. What the industry needs is more inspectors willing to dedicate their lives and careers to the never ending learning experience. That is what I love about the industry. I grew up in the construction trade, I am very dedicated and am learning on a daily basis. I'm only 37 years old and I know that if I continue to learn every day and live to be an old man, I still will not know everything. There's nothing easy about it, but it is very rewarding (other than monetary). Thanks again everyone for your comments


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    191

    Default Re: Brick foundation

    I see brick foundations every day in my neck of the woods. Usually around here it's a house with a full basement, stone foundation below garde and brick (or granite) above grade (for appearances).

    Mortar back then had a high lime content. Over many years, the lime dissolves (from moisture), leaving a loose, sandy joint between the bricks than can be brused away by hand. I have seen these foundations eventually collapse. It's more of an issue where there is unballanced fill (a full basement), but even if it's just a crawlspace, settlement of the structure above and wall cracks, etc. can be an issue. I wouldn't recommend parging.

    If you Google "lime mortar deterioration" you'll find all kinds of good information.


  21. #21
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    Feb 2009
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    Southern Vancouver Island
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    Default Re: Brick foundation

    Thanks, Steve. Since I don't know dick about brick, I have edited my previous comment about parging.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: Brick foundation

    I've been doing inspections in Indianapolis for 25 years and have seen all kinds of foundation issues.

    Many, much more modern concrete block, wood, and slab on grade foundations have failed in much shorter time.

    My own home, built in 1920 has a brick foundation which is still doing it's job admirably. On the other hand I have seen brick foundations that would make me feel very uncomfortable.

    A few years back, I experienced a brick foundation in similar condition. There were water drainage issues contributing to the deterioration of the foundation. In addition to the mortar decay, the bricks themselves had lost their integrity, in that they were soft, almost like chalk. They disintegrated under the slightest pressure from an awl. Although they were still stacked in nearly their original position, I had no choice but to refer the buyer to a structural engineer.



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