Posted by: greenpinkies | September 22, 2010

The First Ugly Surprise “updated” (See post dated August 27th,2010) or “Here lies Jack”

From August 27, 2010:  “Today we finally have removed enough from the house to have several clues as to the source  of one of the moisture problems. Namely, the north wall is pretty much open to the outside elements.  There are a combination of clues here but we still are not quite sure about the ‘why is this happening’ part of it.

First Clue: There is a ¾ inch vertical crack in the brick fascia in the middle of the north wall. We knew about this to some extent, though the majority of the problem had been hidden by ivy.

Eternal Question: Is this crack the cause or the result of the following moisture related problem?

1. The bottom fascia board, on top of the sill on top of the cinder block, which is holding up the floor joists, is well-rotted at that spot. (The cinder block foundation shows no signs of settling and looks pretty good).

2. The house frame has compressed about ¾ at the rotted point.

3. The weather proofing behind the brick fascia is showing gaps which allow the water to come inside the house.

4. Mice have stuffed the 1 inch space between the weather proofing and the brick  with leaves, pine needles, etc. Maybe they entered through the outside crack in the facia”.


Crack on the north fascia


Update: We finally decided to call in a general contractor to try to narrow down (no pun intended) and define our structural problem. Enter Andy and Allen of A & S Construction.  They are totally delightful and know their stuff. (See  Blog: “Professionals know their stuff” dated September 20, 2010).

They deduced that the northwest corner of the house was settling and this settling had cracked the brick fascia. The crack, in turn, had allowed moisture to enter (as well as mice) and this, in turn, had rotted the “rim joist” (the bottom fascia board).

The approach should be fourfold:  1: Jack up the house about 2 inches on the Northwest corner.  2: Dig and install a ‘curtain drain’ the entire length of the west face (front) of the house.  3: Replace the rim joist along the entire north side.  4:Rework the brick fascia to repair the crack.

Jacking the house: This was accomplished by exposing the foundation with a backhoe, then pouring more concrete for footings on both sides of the corner, below the existing footing.  A beam was then placed, diagonally, under the corner and a house jack installed.  After the house was jacked up, more concrete was poured to enlarge the footing and the jack was entombed, never to be removed.  Headstone is optional.


Corner Foundation Exposed


The soil was very soft in that corner, we had a lot of rain that week.  The first attempt resulted in the new footing sinking rather than the house going up.  The second attempt, after an even bigger footing pour, brought the house up 2 inches. The north face crack closed slightly but, more importantly, the bricks on each side of the crack returned to horizontal. This will make the cosmetic repair of the crack invisible.

You know, the house looks just that much better. It is hard to tell what is different, it just looks more solid…or maybe that is psychological.


completed Jacking and Curtain Drain


The Curtain Drain: This is a French drain with plastic placed to line the entire side closest to the house. It slopes along the west run and runs lower than the foundation at the point of the North Corner and then runs way off into the north yard. This should keep that corner very dry and firm from here on out.


Curtain Drain seen from the roof



Filling with rocks





The really good new here was the price. It did not bankrupt us. The house jacking and drain were under $2000, the rim joist replacement, $800.00.  We are still in business!

P.S.  About the ‘weatherproofing wrap” on the outside of the house, there was none. This is a 30 year old house. They didn’t wrap houses with Tyvek or similar until later. What we thought was weatherproof wrap was just 3/4 inch styrofoam strips in between each of the outside studs, sort of like the felt stretched between the wood ribs of a Yurt in central Asia.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: