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Foundation Q's & A's

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Block wall deterioration from basement leak?

Besides being a nuisance, does basement water seepage cause foundation damage? I'm particularly interested in the effect on a concrete (masonry? cinder?) block wall.

Yes over a long period of time water will breakdown the masonry this time is shortened by freeze thaw cycles. Another annoying problem that occurs is efflorescence this is caused by the salts leaching out to the surface leaving a white discoloration.

Stone Laying

I own a Log home and am considering stoning the chimney and porch footer. Is this too expensive an undertaking? Where would you find good layers? Is there a cheaper alternative?

Your local brick or block supplier will have the names of most of the contractors in your area. Or you can contact the International Masonry Institute on the internet or phone 1-800-464-0988. There are cheaper finishes but the stone is hard to beat on log homes.


Foundation cracks

I have some blocks cracking around my foundation and water deterioration. What is the best way to repair the block, is their a product that I can use to strengthen the block.

There are several products on the market for patching block and I would suggest checking with your local block supplier for info and availability. The one I have been using is Ardex for information call (412)604-1200 or check out their website at .


Filling Cracks in cement blocks

Can I use mortar cement to fill cracks on exterior foundation wall that is made of painted concrete blocks. If not what else can I use?

Yes you can use mortar to fill the cracks but if you do not find the cause of those cracks and repair that the cracks may return.


Stone foundation

I have a stone foundation which in the past had the area between the stones filled with cement.  The cement is a light gray color and is falling apart. Parts are falling out and need to be refilled. There is also a small water problem occasionally in the spring and moisture. Would hydraulic cement be the best way to go to replace the necessary areas? I have already waterproofed the floor and have a dehumidifier.

Almost all portland based mortars have waterproofing added now but there are also additives which can be added while mixing. I don't think from your description that they are needed. I also have been suggesting to anyone getting ready to start a tuckpointing project that they visit a page at the International Masonry Institute http// this has a very good description of both mortar and how to complete the pointing project.

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Interior concrete wall

We have an interior poured concrete wall in a brick look mold . I would like to know if it can be primed and painted. It was poured last March and we don't seem to have any moisture problems at the moment.

Absolutely yes to both. In fact ANY unpainted surface should primed first then painted with an appropriate finish. There are a couple of concrete paint products, but your choice of colors might be limited. Also, you should definitely NOT be having any moisture problems in a new wall. If you suspect you might develop any, or, do in fact get any moisture contact your builder/contractor right away you might have recourse to correct it without cost (depending on warranty, if any).

Efflorescence of basement walls

Our house was built in the mid 1940's. My husband says the basement was poured with dirty sand. We have pretty well sealed and stabilized the effloresce on the outside above ground (except in spots) with a Thorocrete product, but the inside walls have a lot of efflorescence. Does anyone have ideas on how to seal the inside walls without damage to the integrity of the walls? Is there any product like a laminate that we could apply that would stay and would stop the action? Or other products to apply? (I'm aware the outside below grade should be sealed, but I'm still not sure it would stop the inside efflorescence.)

NOT dealing with the problem will harm the integrity of the foundation more as time goes by.

What is efflorescence?
"The root problem of efflorescence is the moisture which carries the efflorescence to the surface. Moisture is a carrying agent that transports efflorescence through the concrete, thereby destroying concrete and steel inside the concrete which hold it together. "

There are A LOT of products on the market to help with this problem, some professional, some do it yourself. Research and talking to professionals will help you look for the proper solution for you. Checking the grade of your property and the downspouts around the home is #1. The less water towards the house itself the less efflorescence will occur. There are so much information on this on the internet that all you need to do is type in efflorescence into any search engine and you will not only find company profiles but products galore.

Of course attacking the source of efflorescence should be your main concern which is from the outside not the inside. So if you seal the outside below grade like you have above grade you will solve the interior problem and its cause. You will however ALSO need to clean the interior and seal those also.

A home that old has to be getting salts from somewhere and most likely it is from you ground water outside. Hope some of this helps.

Foundation masonry seepage

House is settling and the foundation masonry block under stairs going down to first level seeps during hard rain..Have resealed and put waterproof sealant on it..One year later ..seeped some more but not much..have put more UGL sealant on it ..what can I use as an overcoat so that this does not occur again??

I don't think you can put anything better on to seal it. If it settles more, a crack will open up again. You can make sure you are keeping as much water away from the house as possible. Make sure all the water off your roof is collected and directed away with gutters/downspouts and splash blocks or better yet pipe it away from the house by burying some drain pipe to lead it away.

Cutting foundation

We have a large crawl space/storage space in back of our garage and under our house. We'd like to use the space more, but now we need to crawl through a small 3 x 3 door to do so. We want to make a full-size door, but would need to cut through the foundation and re-route some gas pipes around the new opening to do so. Does anyone know if this is possible? Is it okay to cut into the foundation? Any idea of cost involved?

Sure it's possible to do what you say. Since you already have a 3-foot wide opening, all you'd be doing is making the doorway higher (or lower) so that you don't have to crawl through it. The only thing you'd have to worry about is that the frame above the door (presumably part of the sill) is adequately supported. You shouldn't take out any wood, just concrete. You can do that yourself by renting a masonry saw and cutting right through the concrete block -- if it's block. If it's solid concrete, it's harder and messier, and you'll wear out more blades. If you want to hire someone to do the work, expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars. The work is dirty, dusty, noisy, and generally unpleasant. That, along with the saw blades, is what you'll be paying for because it doesn't take that much skill to do it.
As for the gas lines, they can be re-routed just like water lines -- easier, in fact, because they are more flexible. Sorry, don't know the cost.

Click here for our Building Concrete Slabs Article
Click here for our Building A Retaining Wall Article
Click here for our How To Keep Your Basement Dry Article
Click here for our Masonry Tips Article

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