Clay Brick Foundation! ugh

Old 09-08-09, 01:57 PM
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Clay Brick Foundation! ugh

I have a house in Michigan built in 1873. Some renovations seem to have been done over the years and I have discovered a somewhat strange foundation while tuckpointing some concrete block in the foundation above ground, and need some advice.

Underground the foundation is 4 feet of stone that has been reinforced with concrete and is about 2 feet thick which is in good shape. On top of this is 2.5 ft of CLAY brick that is below grade(clay bricks are standard 2x4x8). It has obviously begun to crumble somewhat. Strangely on top of the clay brick are 3 rows of concrete block that then support the wooden frame and wall etc.

First off I am unable to pay to have the house jacked up and to put in the proper concrete blocks in place of the clay brick.

So far I have gone in and replaced the crumbling bricks and mortar where needed and now have a clean dry surface exposing all Clay bricks along the exterior wall.

I was thinking of waterproofing the bricks and going a bit overboard (probably not in reality because of it really being needed) and painting on rubberized foundation sealer on the clay brick and then covering this with some sort of rubber or other panel.

Then installed a french drain along the foundation to make sure minimal water gets to the clay brick causing it to crumble.

I am not currently having water problems in the basement and have a dehumidifier to regulate moisture in the air in the basement as well.

Is there a better way to go about this short of jacking up the house?

What sort of panels should I use? And which brand rubber sealer? I have Lowes, Home Depot, and Menards in my area.

There is a pretty high clay content in the soil around the house so it retains quite a bit of moisture which I assume was causing the bricks to be worse outside of the fact clay bricks shouldn't be used in below grade applications as far as I know.

Am I screwed in the long run anyway?

Thank you
Old 09-08-09, 02:21 PM
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There are some posters on here that are very knowledgeable about bricks and such so hopefully they will stop by. In the mean time, understanding bricks and moisture is always helpful.
BSD-106: Understanding Vapor Barriers —

Some bricks can and are used below grade, but not all. From the fact that yours are deteriorating, you are probably correct that yours are not.

Old 09-08-09, 05:43 PM
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What type of mortar did you use to repair the foundation?
Old 09-08-09, 07:31 PM
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That home was probably raised a little after 1900, since concrete block were really not used before that. - Commonly done to make a "Michigan basement" that sits further out of the ground than a more modern type. Usually to get headroom since the originals were built before there was a code.

Make sure you use the proper materials to preserve the old brick masonry.

Old 09-09-09, 05:48 AM
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mortar type

Well, I probably made a mistake and will have to go back to replace the mortar I already put in. I used Type S Mortar from Quikrete. I assume now having looked further into this issue that I should have used something that better matched the existing mortar? The existing mortar is dark in color (black).

Thank you for your help.

Last edited by popimor; 09-09-09 at 07:50 AM. Reason: more mortar details

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