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joecairl 06-25-2008 10:09 AM

Spawling Foundation Block
I own a split-entry home where the foundation block is exposed about 4 feet above ground on either side of the house. On one side I have started notice a significant amount of paint lifting and flaking away. Last night as I was preparing the surface for Dry-Lok I noticed some spawling as well. some areas are real superficial, but some spots crumble away almost .25 to .5 inches deep. I know there are several products that claim to fix this problem, but what is the best solution? I want to repair the block now while it is dry and warm out. Also, Is it safe to use a pressure washer to remove all the loose paint and cement or do I run the risk of creating a larger problem? The block is typical concrete cinder blocks. The house was built in '79 and I have lived there for just over 2 years, so I really don't know how long the block has been this way. I only noticed it due to the paint chipping away. I should also not that I do not have a water problem in the basement, so perhaps this is indicating that the problem is on the surface and I'm catching it early. Please advise before I proceed.

Thank you


glennjanie 06-25-2008 04:35 PM

Welcome Joe:
I think the problem you have is water getting into the blocks and freezing which makes them pop off. Pressure washing would assure that you have all the loose paint and concrete off.
You can re-evaluate the problem after it is cleaned up. You may want to go with a sand and cement stucco if the damage is 1/2" or more over a large area. Otherwise you may want to use a cement based block sealer paint and follow it with a couple of coats of latex paint to weather proof it.
We would appreciate before and after pictures if possible.

joecairl 06-26-2008 08:06 AM

I will certainly take some pictures and post them to this thread.

joecairl 06-26-2008 08:10 AM

I guess I have one more question. You recommend the sand and stucco repair, but what about quickrete. Could I just repair with quickrete? Also, I bought Dry-loc to seal the block. Should I paint the sealer on then repair, then reseal and paint?

mudmixer 06-26-2008 08:30 AM

Sealers will only make the problem worse since they prevent the moisture from getting OUT of the block. The fact that the paint is being forced off the surface means by the vapor pressure of the moisture inside.

A sand stucco coat may work. A better, long term repair would be to nail wire/screen to the wall and apply a real stucco (not synthetic). This creates a mechanical attachment with a very thin air space to permit reducing the vapor pressure. Something like Drylok is just a specialized, glorified pant that can be used for the wrong application. - You do not have a structural problem.


inspectorD 06-26-2008 01:38 PM

I agree with Mudmixers advice. Putting sealer on only masks the issues for the first couple of seasons. This is why I advise folks not to paint their chimneys or the inside of the basements.
The stucco and screen mesh is the best choice.
Good advice.:)

joecairl 06-26-2008 09:24 PM

Follow up
I have taken the pressure washer to the foundation block and found most of the area in question to be in fairly good shape. There was an area of 2-3 blocks that is crumbling pretty good 1/2 in or so. In response to the stucco repair: Wouldn't I be covering up the block and blocking my view of future problems, or continued problems? I mean it would look nice on the outside, but underneath the stucco what if the block continues to crumble. Now I won't be able to notice any continued deterioration. Just a couple thoughts. I haven't encountered this problem before so I'm in unfamiliar territory. Also, I am only dealing with 4 feet of the wall. the moisture may be wicking in from the under ground, which I have no intention of excavating. So it is possible the moisture is getting into the block that way. I do not have a problem in the basement which is finished with drywall. So, I hear you point on the sealer and it makes me nervous that I would then be forcing the water into the basement since it would technically be sealed from the outside, but I still revert back to my first question. I guess I am really starting to sound pretty green over here. I'm not much of a cement guy. And the only experience I have sith stucco is ripping the stuff out, yuk.

inspectorD 06-27-2008 05:15 AM

The issue is with the paint holding back moisture. The existing paint on the wall is trapping the moisture which accumulates usually in the more humid summer months. The moisture from the building is try to get out and lifts the paint with it , and any cement attached to it. This is what is flaking off. If you remove the paint , you remove the issue to a degree. You will always have moisture in the block, it comes from the bottom of the wall at the footings and works it's way up, Like a chimney.
By installing the stucco, you leave a gap between the two where the water will accumulate and drip back to the soil, or work it's way through the stucco, which is a bit more flexible than concrete.
So you are masking the issue in a good way by controlling the moisture.
Hope this helps to make some sense, and I'm sure someone will be by to add anything I missed.
You could always just leave it alone, or install some lattice work.
Good luck.

joecairl 06-27-2008 09:43 AM

Thank you
Thanks for clearing that up for me InspectorD. I plan on living in this house for a while at least so I guess I have some decisions to make on the type of repair to do here. I certainly have to consider the depth of a project like applying stucco to the 100 square foot section on the side of my house (I say the whole thing just for giving it a clean look). I guess some shrubs will help make this project look even better.

inspectorD 06-27-2008 02:33 PM

Your welcome
The paint on the wall can stay...but it will be a maintenance issue always.
Good luck with your project, year round shrubs work the best.:D

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