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RE: old foundation block deterioration

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It sounds like moisture-caused deterioration.  Exposure to wet/dry cycles over long periods of time is the principle cause of deterioration of all kinds of masonry as well as concrete, historic or commonplace, old or modern.  Here are two good references:


1.  Preservation Briefs 39, Holding the Line Controlling Unwanted Moisture in Historic Buildings, by Sharon C Park, AIA; available online from the National Park Service, enter Historic Buildings and structures in the “Looking For” window, scroll down to Preservation briefs, scroll down to Brief 39.

2.  Moisture Problems in Historic Masonry Walls, Diagnosis and Treatment by Baird M Smith, AIA; published by the National Parks Service, Preservation Assistance Division.  This has a good discussion of the mechanism & chemistry of the deterioration-of-masonry process.  I don’t have an easy-to-access source for this, but it must be available from the U.S Government Printing Office.  Or search for it on the above website


Nels Roselund, SE

South San Gabriel, CA


From: Jim Wilson [mailto:wilsonengineers(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, August 03, 2006 6:24 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: old foundation block deterioration


I'm searching for technical information on deterioration of old cinder(or cement) block foundation walls about 50 years old, but I'm not having much luck searching on the web.  The deterioration is so bad in one area of this client's foundation wall that you could literally scoop the deteriorated masonry out of the bottom course with a bare hand.


I also browsed through Brown's foundation book and Newman's renovation book, but came up mostly empty there too.


Thanks in advance,


Jim Wilson, PE

Stroudsburg, PA