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Chicago News Story About Split-Faced Block


hausdok
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Not missing a thing. The stuff soaks up water like a sponge, transfers it to the wood truss because no one installed capillary breaks, the truss saturates.

No roof vents, nice warm space below with the requisite 2 dozen TC recessed cans (chimneys), and you got a nice mold farm up there.

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There is a moisture resistant split face block. It is considerably heavier than conventional split face.

It's not just the block. The problem is multi-story wood floor platform assembly. The flashing cannot, repeat, cannot be detailed correctly. There is no way to correctly set the back and end dams on any of the flashing.

Everyone holds it shy of the face because they don't like how it looks, the front "outlet" is therefore blocked, and without a back dam, the water simply runs to the interior.

Split is fine for single floor strip malls, Walmarts, that sort of thing. It's a disaster for multi-story residential.

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Yes. The stuff can have really screwed up problems.

No one installs capillary breaks between the wood floor truss and the block, and most of the time there's no flashing either.

Some of the worst are in that pocket over just west of Western Ave., and north of Chicago Ave.. That area has some amazingly screwed up buildings. There, and Rogers Park.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So timely. This is a split-faced block from yesterday's inspection. 4000 S. Ellis. Built 2004. Water was coming through the walls at four different places that were obvious.

The worst was patching and water stains from the outside wall across most of the kitchen ceiling to about the middle of the building maybe 14'. There were 2 more levels above but I have to lean to the joist sponge effect Kurt explained because of the lay out.

It's really a shame.

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Yes, it is a shame. So many people are so totally screwed because they bought one of these things.

I'm developing a slide show to display just how bad this stuff is, and Vi Daley (14th Ward alderperson) is getting me and Steve Hier an audience sometime after the New Year to make our case to the City Council that this stuff should not be allowed on multistory residential buildings with the wood floor platforms.

No way are they gonna ban it completely, but there has to be some controls on it, and a strict installation methodology adhered to with regular inspections by, ummmm, me and Steve, and folks we train. We want to develop a training program for inspectors, and have a team of folks that are doing the inspections.

If it flies, you'll be on the short list for folks to do the inspectin' (if you're interested). Pie in the sky right now, but we're gonna make our pitch.

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Kurt, if I'm reading this right there is no really way to tell if it has all been installed properly, even if that's possible, without some very invasive methods. Where it's already gone horribly wrong is one thing, but it would seem that in some instances the problems might not show up...yet. So, how are you handling situations where a client is thinking of buying one of these but there are no obvious indicators?

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The general boilerplate, specifics added or deleted per building. I don't usually use all of it, but sometimes I do. It gets changed constantly, and anyone wants to plagiarize part or all, feel free..........It's appropriate to provide attribution, and thank you in advance. In that spirit, one of the paragraphs is straight up Walter J.

And if anyone (Katen, Morrison, Buehler, Buehler?) want to edit, be my guest.

"The sidewall material is "split face block". This material has been found to have serious water leakage problems unless it is properly installed. The City of Chicago Buildings Dept. claims the material is a satisfactory building material if it is properly installed and maintained.

The problem is, it's almost impossible to install correctly in this type of building, totally impossible to see what the real conditions are without opening up walls, floors, and ceilings to look inside the assemblies, and "maintenance" procedures are not standardized and are in a constant evolution. In other words, what the City has to say about it and what actually exists in the buildings are two entirely different things.

The current Chicago building code calls for a material called "dry block" which has been treated @ the time of manufacture w/ additives to make it water resistant, with the same additive in the mortar between the blocks. I have found many buildings where the additive was not in the mortar, so even if the block is treated, the mortar still soaks up water.

In addition to the requirement for "dry block", it is also necessary to install the block w/ through wall flashing, weepholes, & rope wicks above and below all windows, along grade where the block bears on the foundation, under all parapet wall coping and details, & at all floor platforms. The flashings, weepholes, & wicks cause any moisture that finds its way into the wall assembly to be diverted back out. The lack of adequate flashings, weepholes, & wicks has been found to be a major problem in some buildings.

This building has incomplete or sloppily installed flashings, wicks, & weepholes. While there may be flashing installed, I can’t see it in all the places I should be seeing it, & the sloppy installation doesn’t promote confidence in the overall installation.

Through wall flashings don’t go “through the wallâ€

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OK, thanx for being interested. I'll get you on the list.

Right now, it's looking like the end of January, but as you know, it's the City of Chicago; they might blow us off at any time.

I am definitely interested also. Are there available tech notes? Wouldn't they be the same as single wythe brick?

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