have had our house since last year...wondering why the foundation wall is thickly peeling/crumbling...

.... especially on one side of the house (shade)...what is the process to repair this? is it a do it ourselves thing? are there professionals who address this issue?
  7 answers
  • Angel B Angel B on Jun 27, 2012
    (I actually live across the border, in Canada, but sign-in didn't accept my postal code....:)
  • Is this happening on the inside or out? When cement or block walls crumble its a sign that moisture or water is getting behind and trying to escape. You need to find the source of the moisture and correct this. Quite often this is caused by cracks in the foundation wall below the ground level that is not seen. This results in build up of water within the wall cavity. Sealing the walls in basements as most people do to prevent water entry speeds up the decay process as the water sits in the wall cavity and causes erosion of the materials. So your fist step is to determine why water is getting behind the wall. Once that issue is solved, then a simple scraping and then re-parging of new cement should do the trick. But first off, find the water and fix it. That will stop and prevent any future decay. As far as professionals. Yes, water proofing contractors. Or good quality mason contractors. However both can be expensive and many times try to use scare tactics to sell you the job. Do not fall for this. Get several estimates by both type of contractors. Can you take a photo? If so post it here and we will do a long distance look see. This may help determine why its happening. How old is the foundation? What is it made of. Cement block, or what?
  • Angel B Angel B on Aug 06, 2012
    Thank you, Woodbridge Environmental. Sorry that I'm just getting my pic up now...it's been a busy summer. But now I am back in panic mode as my husband has started checking things out further by digging down...now the cement is powder in our fingers!! Mostly at the ground level, but as you can see in the pic, we are not finding anything solid at the corner...the decay seems to continue down!... :( wow, we are getting very worried that this is going to be major, which we aren't budgeted for right now! (isn't that always the way?)...Help!! This house is about 60 years old...the foundation is cement (with quite large rocks in it)...
  • From the appearance of the photo it looks as though you have a poured in place foundation. Do you know if that is correct? And based upon your comments there are rocks of various sizes in the mix? Need some additional information. Is this a basement on other side? or Crawl space? Or slab on grade construction? If there is a basement or crawl space. Is it suffering from moisture or water intrusion? Cement crumbling is normally caused by a few different factors. Freezing conditions when the cement was poured. Poor quality cement batch. Excessive moisture resulting in freeze thaw cycles causing the surface layers of cement to crumble. All three things can look exactly the same but are really three different types of fixes. Next question. Do you know about how thick the cement is? What about size and location. Is this happening all over the foundation or just isolated areas? Can you take a photo of the entire corner including roof line were this corner is located? From the appearance of the the photo, it appears that the surface grading is going toward the foundation. Meaning if it rains does water run towards or away from the foundation. Also the house is located in Canada correct? I do think this is an important thing to address, but Its not going to fall down either. But you need to begin planning on the correct repair for this when you can. As it will not get better and longer the time before correction the more it will cost in the end. I also do not think its going to be over the top in expense also. Patching of cement is not really hard, it is just time consuming and does take some effort to get the surface properly prepared to fix. More on that later. Try to answer the questions and we will move on from there. Bob
  • Angel B Angel B on Aug 06, 2012
    Thank you so much Bob...I know the answers to some, but will need to check on some of it, so I will get back to you with all the info at once. I will try to post a video so you can see more views. The pic I posted was after we had dug down along the wall. The damage was concentrated at the dirt line...until we got to the corner where it just was no good as deep as we went...but more info soon. Thanks again..
  • Angel B Angel B on Aug 10, 2012
    Okay...yes there is a basement on the other side. There is no water intrusion, or source, there. We think the cement there is about 8 inches thick. There is a little bit of the cracking/peeling going on elsewhere, but no where near as bad. Although we didn't think this was too bad either, until we started poking at it... :( There is a bank going downhill about a dozen feet from the house...but otherwise it's pretty level there. Rain and snow melt in the back runs towards that side but past and downhill....in the front it is carried somewhat by a drain tube that runs all along the front, then through and out the bank. Your suggestion that it might be an excessive moisture/freeze/thaw issue makes the most sense. I'm trying to upload a video....we would like an idea what our first step would be concerning fixing the wall damage...and also the drainage issue. We had ALOT of melt water this past winter. Big freezing rainfalls that froze/thawed..I had like an acre of ice-rink (literally, the kids were skating on it!).... (I'm only able to upload a video to my facebook with my phone...could I tag it to you? I will try....) Thanks again for your time...!
  • OK, does not seem to bad then. What most likely has occurred was when the cement poured I either was poorly mixed or it froze causing the poor quality your seeing. The correction is more of a pain in the behind then anything else. You need to break out the shovels and dig down until you find more solid cement. Once you have done this you need to carefully wire brush off all the dirt and soils that have stuck to the surface. Being careful not to remove to much more cement. Once that has been done successfully you need to paint the exposed cement surfaces with a cement primer used for patching cement. This can be found at almost all home centers that sell cement. Follow the directions using a good stiff brush put this on and let it dry. Once dry you need to mix up a batch of high strength mortar mix. Not cement mix. Mortar has no gravel in it. If the missing cement where it has worn really far is more then two inches deep, you will need to fasten a wire mesh called expanded metal. This too can be found where the cement is sold. This should be fastened using cement nails every six inches apart if possible. Then taking the mixed mortar which should be the consistency of cake batter, apply it to the wall using a smooth flat trowel. Its a bit tricky at first, but you will get the hang of doing this in short order. Build up the cement until it is even with the original surface. Let the cement dry for a short while then using a wood float rub the surface in circles which will give it a fine texture to match the cement exposed above the original soil level. Let it dry for about two or three days. Once dry using a disposable trowel take some asphalt (tar) that comes in a can and put a nice even coat about an eighth of in inch thick on all exposed surfaces to just even with what will be the new soil grade level. Once applied then place a plastic sheet against the tar to prevent it from becoming damaged and back fill with the removed soil. Leave the soil down a bit and then paint the foundation wall with any good quality water proofing paint on the remaining exposed cement wall. This should correct the damage to the wall, and prevent any future seepage into the wall causing the cement to decay any further. Let me know if you need any other assistance on this. Or if you do not understand what I am trying to convey on how to do it. Bob
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