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Split Face Block Chicago Roof Structure Disaster


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A pic from today... We opened it up because there was a soft spot in the roof sheathing. The truss are rotting in their pockets.

Anyone feel free to use this pic to get the word out.

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a perfect storm

architect designs for thousands w/no liability

contractor builds for thousands w/no liability

code official signs off, city gains thousands in tax revenue w/no liability

realtor sells for thousands w/no liability

home inspector charges hundreds, can't see and will get blamed for missing a latent defect w/e&o claim for thousands

sounds like a perfect world

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We're getting a few lawyers that are finding the ways to pierce the veil. Architects have insurance; they go at the architects insurer. There's liability. I predict a firestorm of construction defect litigation in the coming years. We're talking billions of dollars of residential property that's seriously screwed.

We've been talking about this stuff for years. If some bozo HI doesn't know enough to point out the major problems with masonry construction in the city, then they should get sued.

There's a reason I'm considered a crank by the old guard realtors, although the newer crop seem to get it. I've outlasted the old guard; at times, I'm downright dismissive of them. Business is good. Great, in fact.

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So what is to blame here? The split face block or lack of parapet flashing? Or both? Any other issues at the lower levels?

I did talk to Kelly a few months ago about installing rain screens and he told me it is too difficult to get a straight wall over the rough surface of the SFB. He feels that ventilating the top of the parapet and cutting out any through wall flashing should solve the SFB problem. It could work but I feel it is a shot in the dark.

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Everything is to blame. There's a lot of details at every step of the process that have to be right, and none of these things are even close. It's not the block; it's the installation. Not a one of them has back dam flaps, end dams, they use that crap IPCO plastic garbage bag membrane, the wicks are just plugs in holes that are too small and too few, the coping sags and water flows around the edges, there's no expansion joints, etc., etc. They're all ****ed up, and there are thousands of them.

And, it's not just split face. We're opening up cavity wall that's sopping wet. Why? Because the mopes at Local 21 are sure they know now to lay brick, and they **** it all up.

Kelly's not a shot in the dark. The stuff works. No one wants to believe it. So, we're changing people's minds one building at a time. We got buildings that prove it works.

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And a lot of these split block places have crawlspaces and either from wall moisture or damp rise from the foundation the ends of the joists with no capillary separation are sucking water and rotting. You are right when you say the problem is everywhere.

One of the few SFBs I have looked at where I couldn't find any signs of moisture had a pitched shingled roof with soffit and gutters.

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Well, you can tell I don't post much here with my screwing up.

Anyways, Kurt, I am curious as to how the repairs are going to be made.

A pic from today... We opened it up because there was a soft spot in the roof sheathing. The truss are rotting in their pockets.

Anyone feel free to use this pic to get the word out.

Click to Enlarge
tn_201655191225_P5050158.jpg

68.7 KB

Click to Enlarge
tn_201655191241_P5050160.jpg

63.64 KB

Click to Enlarge
tn_201655192013_P5050168.jpg

65.6 KB

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.. that is a nasty-case there... commercial or residential???

Residential. Built in the boom. We're finding that anything, and I mean darn near everything....be it SFB or conventional cavity wall....built from 1998 to 2008-09, has water issues at some level. The codes are wrong. The masons are wrong. The principles, materials, and methods....it's all wrong. We're getting used to the idea that people think we're completely nuts.

I'm getting really gun shy looking at these things. We've opened up too many of them, and I know too much. In conventional brick veneer, it's at least repairable by standard carpentry and redo the veneer. In load bearing cavity wall, it's the whole damn structure. And this one isn't even all that bad.

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I looked a two level shopping center a few weeks ago that was being purchased by a church to convert into a new church building. It all came to a grinding halt when I found split-face block on two staircase towers that had allowed water to seep in from the upper level and I could see the steel bar-joist were corroded to the point that several were no longer bearing on their ends. This building was 18 years old...

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I looked a two level shopping center a few weeks ago that was being purchased by a church to convert into a new church building. It all came to a grinding halt when I found split-face block on two staircase towers that had allowed water to seep in from the upper level and I could see the steel bar-joist were corroded to the point that several were no longer bearing on their ends. This building was 18 years old...

All the single wythe stuff is problematic once you go over a single story. I knew it was bad years ago, but had no idea we'd be seeing failures like this.

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  • 9 months later...

I've been educating myself about split face block issue for a few weeks, and there is a lot of contradictory information out there. Is there a consensus yet on the best approach to dealing with moisture in single wydth split face block construction?

There are a lot of masonry contractors, even large reputable ones, who will sell a $15-20k silane/siloxane sealant job to small building. However, I see lots of condo associations re-sealing after just 5 years. This is financially untenable for a 3 unit building.

I've seen an alternate approach to venting at the top of the parapet walls, essentially using the hollow core of the single wydthe wall as an air gap. This approach makes a lot of sense to me, and *looks* like a more sustainable long-term solution. However, Wick Right seems to have a patent on this approach, and I'm dubious that they are pushing a proprietary solution for their own interests.

What are you all recommending to your clients as a permanent and sustainable solution to the issue?

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