Erosion Under Front Brick Veneer

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Old 09-06-15, 10:54 AM
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Erosion Under Front Brick Veneer

I need some advice please. I am the maintenance contact for our Condo Association. I am a retired auto technician. I don't know much about masonry, concrete, etc. Below is an example of a problem at many of our Condo units.





I live in Iowa, so we deal with extreme temp changes, snow, etc. As you can see, the brick veneer has a void underneath it. I am going to assume this is from water damage and ground shifting due to deep frost, etc. The cracks in the masonry, I have used some backer rod in the wide gaps, then caulked with a concrete/masonry sealer. It remains flexible in all temps, at least that is what the tube says! I don't know if this was the proper way to do this or not. Also what do I do about the deep void underneath the brick veneer? There is also a good 3/4 inch gap between it and the sidewalk, where I am assuming the water is getting in. There is also the same size or wider gap between the sidewalk and the garage foundation. This goes all the way along side the front steps. Should this be fixed with backer rod and the same caulk? Self-leveling caulk won't work as some of the sidewalks are not level. They slope down towards the street. Any help with these issues sure would be appreciated!
 
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Old 09-06-15, 11:06 AM
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Brick should have a corbel ledge block / footing underneath it that is part of the foundation that is below frost. If you poke back in there a few inches and find the brick is not sitting on concrete then you have a pretty big problem. Since I can see the poured concrete form pattern going around the corner it doesn't seem likely that there is a footing there at all. Cement from the sidewalk cannot be the means of support for the brick and it should not go under the bricks anywhere or frost heave will break the bricks and mortar up.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 01:06 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply xsleeper. Some of the units are like the pictures I posted. Others the brick veneer is sitting on top of the sidewalk. These side by side ranch style condos are 17-19 years old now. Many of the sidewalks have cracked and separated expansion joints. A few you can only see the crack all the way across the joint. Others have a half an inch or more gap. I was thinking that I would try backer rod and self leveling caulk on the wider cracked sidewalks, just to keep the water out and buy us some time before we may have to mudjack and or replace the sidewalks. Costs is the main factor. Stretch the expenses out as far as possible! One we are having mudjacked, as it has sunk down in the corner next to the foundation wall and the first step. Code is 7 inches for the step and it is at 12 1/2 inches now.
 
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Old 09-08-15, 11:18 AM
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While mudjacking is a great solution to some problems it's certainly not the best solution in many other cases. In many cases, especially when they involve sidewalks, it's just as cheap to remove the bad section and have it replaced. It's also a much better solution in most cases.

In this situation it would be very nice to remove a section of sidewalk to see what's actually under that brick veneer. It should be sitting on a brick ledge that is part of the foundation.
 
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Old 09-09-15, 08:40 PM
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I strongly suspect that backer rod and caulking are not going to correct the problems your units are experiencing. A good engineering consultant needs to evaluate what's there, develop a set of repair plans, and then administer a repair contract after a qualified contractor is chosen by the HOA. You would do well not to hire the same consultant who allowed brick veneer to be supported by concrete sidewalks--it's totally prohibited by all building codes, and should be grounds for license revocation.

Quick-and-easy fixes are nice when they work. But they rarely work, especially with serious structural issues such as yours.
 
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Old 09-10-15, 02:09 PM
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The only unit that I have been able to actually verify any type of ledge block/footing is one that has a stack of four cut 2x4's under the brick facing. I can see them because there is a 3 inch gap all around the sidewalk along the facing. This same unit has a gap between the sidewalk and the front step of 2 1/2 inches. I can grab the expansion joint foam panel with my fingers and move it towards the step and sidewalk slab. No sinking, and the slab is level. But the void is 6 inches deep! How in the heck do I fill that? Add sand, then cut more expansion joint foam panels to fit snug into the void? Then use masonry/cement sealant to close it up? I have a few others that have gaps nearly this wide.

I really appreciate all your input guys. I think I volunteered myself into a nightmare! Maybe I should think about moving! If we have to hire a contractor to fix these issues, we are in deep doo doo. The original contractor is long gone. No way to go after him.

The one sidewalk that we are having mudjacked, replacement bid from three cement contractors was $1200. They were within $50 of each other. The mudjacking is $300. And this company has been around many years and has an excellent reputation. But I agree with Msradell, I sure would like to see what is under or should I say, not under that sunken slab. I get the bids and turn them over to our HOA Board of Directors. I have no vote, I just give my opinions.
 
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