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1910 Mystery Foundation Material?


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I inspected a home built in 1910 in upstate New York (Seneca Falls). I have included several photos of the foundation, which is a combination of brick and another block material, which I am not familiar with and not certain how to describe in my report. Can anyone shed some light on this type of foundation material? Thanks!

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It appears to be a common block brick. Just a larger brick, high fired, softer in center than on exterior. Had an agriculture use for silos. Not real common in houses, as they were expensive and difficult to lay with common mortar due to weight and glazed surface. Usually seen in houses around Brick yards and kilns.

Anyway, that's the story for Michigan. We have a whole neighborhood of 1930's houses made from them. Never seen them used as a veneer.

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Originally posted by Les

It appears to be a common block brick. Just a larger brick, high fired, softer in center than on exterior. Had an agriculture use for silos. Not real common in houses, as they were expensive and difficult to lay with common mortar due to weight and glazed surface. Usually seen in houses around Brick yards and kilns.

Anyway, that's the story for Michigan. We have a whole neighborhood of 1930's houses made from them. Never seen them used as a veneer.

I've never seen anything like that. They must have been several hundred pounds each. How did they lift the damn things?

- Jim Katen

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Hi,

I think Les might be right. I used to build silos all over New York State and New England as a teenager, so I took a keen interest in how the older ones were built. Many of them were built with large glazed interlocking bricks.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Kurt wrote: "It looks too rough for telephone tile, doesn't it?"

The exterior has been painted in the photo. The interior looks like typical vitrification. The proportions look identical to the 4 cell tile conduit that I have seen. I'm sure you've seen much more than the few that I have. I remember reading that Chicago and suburbs have more tile conduit foundations than anywhere else.

I could be wrong, but I would bet on conduit over silo tile. Flue and conduit tiles have rounded corners. Silo tiles have sharper corners.

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I guess I should have been more specific. I am not "guessing" these to be silo tile, just of the type used for silo tile.

With material like this, it usually is very regional. The means, forms to form "cmu's", were often sold to the public along with the rest of the materials to build the house. So you can end up with a "cmu" made with most anything.

Personally, I dis-like the term cmu, for just that reason.

Around mid-michigan I have seen various bricks, cinder block, concrete block, cement block, all nature of tiles, wood, timber, clay, rammed earth, iron, steel, glass bottles & cement, field stone, cut stone, pea stone, white crysotile asbestos, pipe, telephone poles, etc.. Some times you just shake your head and don't argue with the success (or failure) of the system.

Methods and materials are limitless in our business!

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Since there seems to be some uncertainty as to what these "blocks" are made of. And since we wouldn't (or would we?)want to delay completion of a report on the exact indentification of such "blocks", how would one indentify them in a report?

"block foundation" or "cementious type block foundation" or what?

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Thanks for the info.

I can clearly see (since the end is broken off), that the smaller block on the bottom is (or was) hollow core. Do you think that the larger blocks are also of the same material? Hollow core?

I've seen them on occaision, and have always assumed they they were solid, but I really don't know.

Additionally, In the pictures from the interrior side, I see a "golden colored "brick". Is this the brick that is being referred to as a "silo brick"? My memory tells me that I have seen silos of this color. I have always assumed that they were regular bricks, possibly larger, possibly glazed (it's been a long time and I looked at things differently then). I don't remember ever seeing a silo constructed with anything that resembled the large blocks that we have now determined to be T&T conduit blocks.

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Steve,

I think I would report it as Bill indicated above.

Before we can move on to the next question - a more detailed explaination of methods and materials - more info is needed. For purposes of inspection for client, just report like Bill indicated and wheather or not they are performing as intended.

The silo "brick" is usually tile when yellow. Remember you are dealing here with some pretty sharp guys and we all use words a little differently. I guess I am just advising you about how things are reported. Every respondent to this thread would argue (discuss) for weeks, online and for minutes or hours if face to face. It is my opinion there is a limitless amount of info on this board about methods and materials and most of it quite good.

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I was just thinking about some of the questions and responses on this thread and wanted to clarify something.

The images originally posted by dtontarski show a very unusual material to be used as a structural part of a building. I'm pretty confident it is leftover or salvaged conduit tile, not the more common structural tile used for foundations and other masonry walls in older buildings.

I get at least one e-mail a month from homeowners, inspectors and other professionals asking me to identify a clay block material that they are not familiar with. Some have been incorrectly told that it is "telephone tile". The pictures that they send are always of hollow, unglazed clay blocks that is now referred to as "structural terra cotta". I have catalogs and pamphlets from the early 1900s that call it "hollow building tile".

2006417215414_stc.JPG%20

The ribbing is on both faces. When used above grade, the interior has plaster directly applied and the exterior usually is rendered or stuccoed. One building I inspected omitted the stucco, creating an interesting texture.

I've inspected many farms with tile silos (or piles of tiles that used to be a silo). I'll look for an image to post of the vitrified or glazed tiles used in their construction.

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  • 7 months later...

I wrote:

I've inspected many farms with tile silos (or piles of tiles that used to be a silo). I'll look for an image to post of the vitrified or glazed tiles used in their construction.

And I forgot until I saw this:

20061213201253_silo.jpg

The lighter blocks are severely spalled.

Yes, Mr. barn is tired and leaning against his long time companion, Mr. Silo.

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My home, built in 1929 has two courses of 2 cell tile "Tera Cotta colored" on top of the poured foundation wall, topped with old school hard fired brick, all of which are hand broken, not cut at the arches, I actually built a walkway with a bunch of the leftover tiles, I will include a picture later but it's dark, I would have to put down my Miller high life, get up off my lazy ass, hunt down my camera and flashlight, and well you get the picture... I'll show you tomorrow.

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