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  1. #1
    Noah DuMass's Avatar
    Noah DuMass Guest

    Default Do Catsclaw vines penetrate concrete?

    I'm in AZ and I've not yet been able to find anyone "qualified" to determine if a basement leak in a commercial building is CAUSED by vines penetrating a poured concrete foundation. There are many vertical structural cracks in the cmu portion of the building (cmu on poured foundation / basement) which measure out to coincide with the interior point of "the mystery leak". No excavation has been done and NONE of the interior leak points coincide with the visible vines (above ground). Naturally the first question is, "can you see any roots or vines IN the basement or anywhere INSIDE the building." No, no sign of heaving, bulging and no penetrations of roots or vines whatsoever.

    The roof had MAJOR leakage covering the entire building, from my experience the sheeting of leakage on the interior walls (basement) and above ground first and second floors appears to be consistent with bad scuppers/roof drain inlet or leaking internal plumbing in the drain system. Also during the extremely heavy rainfall events during which the "leak" presents itself the outlet of the roof drain system is underwater as the surface water runoff in the adjacent street exceeds the curb height (the outlet is below curb by ~1"-2") and flows over the city sidewalk.

    The structural cracks have no vine or root growth visible in them and despite cutting the vines to the ground (they have subsequently grown back to cover the side above ground) the vines have still not taken advantage of the cracks. Being heliotropic and opportunistic the vines appear to be growing up (toward the sun) and outward (away from the foundation) as I would expect since plants in a pot grow root out the hole, not through the clay wall of the pot following the path of least resistance.

    So the meat of the question is; obviously anything is possible what is the best way to conclusively determine the true origin of the water intrusion?

    Dye test? (at roof or ground level)
    PSI testing of the pour?
    Excavate the entire basement wall?

    This has been an ongoing problem for years but is now blooming (excuse the pun) into the war of the concrete eating vines. (It came from outer space?)


    Do cat's claw vines really grow through properly poured (or any) concrete?

    I thankfully haven't dealt with Formosan termites (which apparently DO eat concrete); do/why would, vines choose to penetrate concrete vs. soil?

    Anyone (maybe in Arizona) have any experience in tracing leaks like this?

    Can anyone recommend an engineer in AZ?

    It's really getting old trying to convince the owner that underground vines CAN NOT cause a roof leak, but ......

    there's a limit to intelligence and no boundary whatsoever to stupidity. I'm out of intelligence and there's still plenty of stupid at this jobsite.

    Cheers and TIA


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  2. #2
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Do Catsclaw vines penetrate concrete?

    Now, now. You can only get so stupid to the point were it does not matter anymore but you will never reach your intelligence factor. You will never stop learning.

    The rest I cannot help you with because I am not there and I am an idiot


  3. #3
    Noah DuMass's Avatar
    Noah DuMass Guest

    Default Re: Do Catsclaw vines penetrate concrete?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    The rest I cannot help you with because I am not there and I am an idiot



    No one here has any experience with concrete and roots?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    5,847

    Default Re: Do Catsclaw vines penetrate concrete?

    Quote Originally Posted by Noah DuMass View Post



    No one here has any experience with concrete and roots?
    Never heard of a Catsclaw vine.

    Basement water problems are usually associated with poor drainage around the foundation and basement wall.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,244

    Default Re: Do Catsclaw vines penetrate concrete?

    Quote Originally Posted by Noah DuMass View Post
    No one here has any experience with concrete and roots?
    In my opinion, you already answered your own questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Noah DuMass View Post
    There are many vertical structural cracks in the cmu portion of the building (cmu on poured foundation / basement) which measure out to coincide with the interior point of "the mystery leak".

    No excavation has been done and NONE of the interior leak points coincide with the visible vines (above ground).

    Naturally the first question is, "can you see any roots or vines IN the basement or anywhere INSIDE the building." No, no sign of heaving, bulging and no penetrations of roots or vines whatsoever.

    The roof had MAJOR leakage covering the entire building,

    from my experience the sheeting of leakage on the interior walls (basement) and above ground first and second floors appears to be consistent with bad scuppers/roof drain inlet or leaking internal plumbing in the drain system.
    Also during the extremely heavy rainfall events during which the "leak" presents itself the outlet of the roof drain system is underwater as the surface water runoff in the adjacent street exceeds the curb height (the outlet is below curb by ~1"-2") and flows over the city sidewalk.
    All that would do is create water backing up toward the foundation wall, however, it would increase the moisture load on the foundation wall.

    The structural cracks have no vine or root growth visible in them and despite cutting the vines to the ground (they have subsequently grown back to cover the side above ground) the vines have still not taken advantage of the cracks. Being heliotropic and opportunistic the vines appear to be growing up (toward the sun) and outward (away from the foundation) as I would expect since plants in a pot grow root out the hole, not through the clay wall of the pot following the path of least resistance.

    So the meat of the question is; obviously anything is possible what is the best way to conclusively determine the true origin of the water intrusion?
    Dye test? (at roof or ground level)
    That is one way to try to determine what water source is a contributing factor. "A" "contributing" factor, there may well be more than one contributing factor from your information.

    PSI testing of the pour?
    That would not tell you much, if anything, about the leak, the exterior side of the foundation wall should be waterproofed, and, if waterproofed, the strength of the concrete will not be a contributing factor.

    Excavate the entire basement wall?
    That would tell you if the foundation wall was properly waterproofed, and give you access to add additional water proofing and drainage systems.

    That would certainly help.

    Of course, you still have all that water leaking in from the roof leaks above.

    This has been an ongoing problem for years
    And the roof leaks have been going on for years too?

    Crimeny, the owner should have repaired the roof leaks years ago, stopping the roof from leaking. That should have happened a long time ago, and, there is no reason for the owner not to do it now. For some things, late IS 'better late than never' - sooner would have been even better.

    First, the roof leak should be addressed, WHETHER OR NOT that is a contributing factor to the leaks inside. WHY has that NOT ALREADY been done?

    Second, forget the vines, you have drainage/waterproofing issues around the foundation if you have water sheeting down the interior of the foundation walls (which is what I am taking you as describing).

    Third, forget the vines. Period. At worst, the vines have damaged the waterproofing coating applied to the exterior wall of the foundation/basement wall ... *IF* any waterproofing was applied.

    Fourth, forget the vines. There needs to be a drainage system around the exterior perimeter of the foundation walls to drain away the water which is now being drained down and away from the waterproofing on the exterior perimeter of the foundation walls.

    I would not bother with a dye test, tell the owner to repair the dang roof leaks.

    Excavation around the foundation/basement wall, on the other hand, is most likely needed - to address the issues raised above.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
    Russel Ray's Avatar
    Russel Ray Guest

    Default Re: Do Catsclaw vines penetrate concrete?

    Generally, vines by their very nature are invasive. The cats claw (Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis) is a very hardy vine and, with its "thorns" and its propensity to root as it grows, it is very capable of trellising on its own. I would not be surprised if this specific plant could penetrate concrete, but I certainly would not want it growing anywhere near the foundation, siding, roof, or chimney of my house under any circumstances.

    For more information about cats claw in your area, contact a Master Gardener at the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service:
    Contact a Master Gardener


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