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Mike Lamb

Split Faced Block Discontinued - Chicago

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Will is taking a cue from another individual that has built his business with all kinds of home grown certifications and endorsements. Certified This, Certified That, all endorsed by the Certification Board of Certifiers, and recognized by......who exactly....(?).

He called me the other day to chat about split face a bit. I'm not sure why, but I'm always up for a yak, so I listened to him for a while.

He wants to be the go-to split face guy. For me, that's kind of like wanting to be the certified EIFS repair guy, which is fine if one wants that sort of gig.

Lamb hit the nail accurately.

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Gee, It doesn't seem like I'll be getting any answers from 'Split Block Certified Will'.

A while back, there was a Chicago inspector who posted here occasionally who had his own one-man organization. He was supposedly an engineer, so his schtick was say that you should only use a home inspector who is also a professional engineer AND a member of his one-member society. Being the nice guy that I am, I made up a logo for him to use. My offer was apparently declined. It was also removed from here after I posted it. I still have a copy. Maybe it's OK to post if I pixilate part of it.

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Sorry I have not responded earlier, but I was not aware that all this back stabbing was going on.  If you give me a chance, maybe I can answer all the "cool kids" here.

1) Links:  I have written a number of articles, as well as presented a number of classes and papers at conventions, about split faced block and water intrusion in general.  They can all be seen here:  https://www.deckerhomeservices.com/blog/

2) I think we can all agree that the root cause of this problem is that you simply do not build a single wythe masonry wall in the Chicago area.  Nuff said on that.

3) Given that #2 has happened, what do we do.  Of course improper flashing is the3 secondary cause.  This goes along with the substitution of Renaissance Stone for limestone coping.  Limestone does stop water if it is thick enough.  Stone, not so much.

4) The single most important flashing detail to the wall is at the parapet.  My proof for this is that I have yet to see a water intrusion problem in a split faced block building that was covered with a pitched roof.  Not parapet wall, no problem.  This is NOT to say that there were not problems with water intrusion, in general, but these were caused by bad flashing around above windows and the like, not specifically because of the block.

5) I have found that flashing the parapet wall, even if it is just re-installing clay coping tiles and properly keeping the air vents on the side of the tiles open, works very well.  The so called "wind driven rains" are not that big an issue.  Sure, you have to do regular maintenance on the block,  the single wythe structure pretty much ensures that there will be continuing cracking, but a regular maintenance schedule works well.  Also, sealing these cracks with a good caulk, like Vulcum, works well and I rarely see the cracks re-open if they have been properly sealed and caulked.

6) The ventilated coping solution, like that from Wick Right, is also very good.  I have recommended this many times and have never had a bad call back.

7) As to the Split Block Certified program, yes that is mine.  I have certified about 200 such properties so far (some condos, some SFHs) and have never had a complaint (knock on wood?).  All I do is inspect, recommend repairs by a contractor I know to be good (there are several) and re-inspect to verify the proper repairs.  You guys may not agree with this, but is works and I make money doing it.  More importantly, the clients now have documentation that the buildings were fixed.

8) Finally, the big discussion, sealing.  I agree that sealing the exterior block, provided it is done by a reputable company, with a good quality product and the product manufacturer's instructions are followed is better than not have it sealed.  BUT...  Sealing alone is NOT the solution.  My experience and tests I have done show that only about 8 - 12% of the total water intrusion (not counting cracks, which sealing does not stop anyway) comes THROUGH the block.  The overwhelming majority of the water comes from an improperly flashed parapet wall.  I know that all the young people who bought these places really want an easy (and inexpensive) "silver bullet" solution, but sealing just ain't it.  In fact, the plugger paint sealants actually work to retain moisture.  Completely relying on sealing, with warranties, is what has lead to multiple sealing companies going out of business.  In my experience, sealing the block is very little payback for a large cost (if the work is done right, it is expensive).

9) I am sure that you will all agree that new products and materials often lead to new problems and no one is really 100% sure of the fix because the problem is so new and solutions have to stand the test of time.  We now know that EIFS has to have a drainage plane and that Tyvek housewrap is not a drainage plane.  We also now know that drywall, be it gray or green, is made from paper and that paper is mold food.  And, as we go along, we find new problems and try to come up with solutions.  Mr. Lamb insists that adding an exterior layer of vinyl siding to the block is the solution.  I would pretty much agree, but hardly anyone will do it because it is expensive and also REALLY ugly.  But time marches on and the City will never take any responsibility (or liability) and builders will always go the cheapest route (with a few exceptions) and find ways to legally get out of any warranties.  But that is, at least in part, why we have our jobs.  We get paid to represent people who are buying houses (and condos, etc).  If the place is built like crap, we tell the client and do so professionally.  If an existing property has problems and the owners want advice on how to fix it, some of us do that too.  That is what I am doing with the program and, so far, it appears to be working.

If you have other questions, feel free to call.  You know my number.

Hope this helps;

 

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Since this program began we have some 172 condo buildings and 31 single family houses that have been inspected, some with repairs, and certified.  Some were, wonder of wonders, built properly to begin with and had no problems.  No complaints about the certification so it seems to be working.

I am sorry if all you old guys don't like what I am doing with the certification, but it works.  Ad hominem arguments are meaningless.  I saw a problem and came up with a solution that seems to be working.

Want to join in or just sit on the sidelines and complain?  It is much easier to just write reports defecting these buildings than it is to try to help the people who have bought into them.

Hope this helps;

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6 hours ago, willlong said:

Since this program began we have some 172 condo buildings and 31 single family houses that have been inspected, some with repairs, and certified.  Some were, wonder of wonders, built properly to begin with and had no problems.  No complaints about the certification so it seems to be working.

I am sorry if all you old guys don't like what I am doing with the certification, but it works.  Ad hominem arguments are meaningless.  I saw a problem and came up with a solution that seems to be working.

Want to join in or just sit on the sidelines and complain?  It is much easier to just write reports defecting these buildings than it is to try to help the people who have bought into them.

Hope this helps;

I'm not sure why builders have not figured this out but, un-flashed parapets are a chronic problem even in multi-wythe masonry. Ventilating the walls in single wythe SFB is great but does not help with through-wall flashing at the floor levels.  Does it?  I still see water problems at floor lines, and if there is a crawlspace , you can visually see the ends of the joists sucking water.  Your certification will have to stand the test of time, or there are bound to be complaints.

I agree that the few SFB buildings I've seen with a pitched roof with overhang and gutters did not show moisture intrusion problems the best I could tell.  I have also considered, in theory, that building a small roof over the top of the parapet wall will help shed water away from the walls, and may eliminate a lot of the water infiltration problems.  Just a thought.

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