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dthornton 04-11-2012 07:43 PM

Crumbling brick
Okay folks, I am new to this (so please be nice to me). We bought a house built in 1890. Located in Iowa, it is a 2 story. Brick foundation, the rest is "stick" with the original wood siding. The roof was replaced (including new sheathing) about 8 years ago (So, it's basically a good "shell"). Here's my problem (one, at least): My wife started painting my "workshop" in the basement for me (one room of four). A bunch of the red brick on one INSIDE wall is crumbling off (i'm talking big chunks, some nearly haf the brick in thickness! :(). The floor is concrete, so there is no moisture bring pulled up into the wall. This is a load bearing wall, all the way up to the second floor. I know that the ideal solution would be to bring in a contractor and replace the entire wall. HOWEVER, I cannot afford this; even if I could, I would then have more $$ invested in the house than what I could sell it for. So, experienced guys, what I'm asking you for is this: How can I repair this wall in such a way as to make it structurally sound, WITHOUT draining my bank and credit accounts? (I'm maxed out anyway. I already tried and was rejected for a loan, so the "cheap" way out is the ONLY option). I DO, DO, DO want to make it strong ... this is OUR house and we really love it! PLEASE help if you have the know-how - give me some usable advice. Thanks, and God bless! :)

oldognewtrick 04-11-2012 08:01 PM

Welcome to House Repair Talk. Can you post some pics of the area you are talking about?

nealtw 04-11-2012 10:45 PM

You said this is an interier wall, I hope you mean in the middle of the house. If it changes to wood for the next floor, you could replace it with a wood wall quite reasonable. Do the floor joists land on this wall?

dthornton 04-12-2012 03:16 AM

I will try to post a couple of pics this weekend. I'm not at the house right now. Thanks.

Yes, this is a supporting wall. Also, the brick goes up at one point to form a chimney for the gas vent.

stuart45 04-12-2012 01:24 PM

Brickwork normally only crumbles when it gets damp. Moisture can draws salts onto the face which expand when they crystallize and break up the surface. Freeze/thaw also spalls brickwork.

BobAristide 04-12-2012 04:09 PM

Is this something that just happened or have you seen brick falling off in the past years too?
Welcome to the forum.

dthornton 04-12-2012 06:12 PM

The house was built in 1890. Nice old 2 story frame, brick foundation on concrete basement floor. It was a Fannie Mae and was vacant when we bought it last October. I will try to get a couple of pics of it when I get home this weekend (that's another thing ... anyone tell me how to put photos on here from my smartphone [preferrably] or my camera?). The wall in question is about 8' or so long, running in from the exterior wall. It supports the wall that divides the kitchen from the living room (as well as the 2nd floor above it). It is possible that it froze/thawed while it was empty, but we had the heat on low all winter. There is a lot of humidity in the basement, and there was a 2nd floor plumbing leak that soaked the dining room floor.I don't know whether or not this wall got wet from it, but I don't believe it was something that constantly stayed damp. There are a few spots in the foundation that could use a little sprucing up, but this area has some brick "chips" popping off. I didn't notice any until recently, when my wife went to paint.

dthornton 04-14-2012 09:56 PM

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dthornton 04-14-2012 10:02 PM

Here's the photos of the basement wall. Can I use cement like you would stucco to strengthen this ?

stuart45 04-15-2012 01:49 PM

I have seen that problem quite a lot on old houses. It was often caused by rising damp. Where the damp was at it's peak there were more ground salts which damaged the bricks. Old bricks that were used on interior walls were usually an inferior quality to external grade bricks and were prone to this kind of damage.

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