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missing gutters - moss on foundation


ctgo4it
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saw this on a foundation this week under a section of missing gutters and downspout. I know the growth is a result of that. Didn't see much on the inside. How would you write this up? Is this the beginning of water penetration, or is it safe to assume it will stay on the outside?

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Excessive moss is growing on the foundation. I dont think it's causing a problem at the present time, however it is causing moisture retention against the wall. This can lead to accelerated deterioration of the building materials. The moss should be cleaned off and the areas scrubbed with a bleach/water solution.

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The moss will hold moisture against the wall. Concrete, bricks, stone and mortar are all porous and will absorb moisture. When the embedded moisture freezes is will expand and can damage the building materials. Thats just plain physics.

I like moss and I think it can look appealing growing on the ground and on tree trunks and what not. However, you are in CT and it does get very cold there in the winter. Moisture saturated masonry and freezing temperatures are not good and can lead to spalling of the masonry units. The moss should be removed.

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Well,

At the risk of being accused of fabricating bullshift, I'll step in.

I think John is overstating the issue, but he's right, moss can do some harm to stone and masonry. Fungi uses an acid - oxalic acid - to digest its food; we do too, but I think our bodies use hydrochloric acid. Oxalic acid is powerful stuff and it can etch concrete; it's what you'd use on concrete or roof shingles if you wanted to age the surface rapidly so that repairs will blend in. That's a stone foundation. There are types of moss and algae that actually eat limestone and will soften mortar. Don't believe me? - just google it. I learned this at your old gig, Walter; it was an article or a Q & A that I read years ago in Old House Journal about the reasons that moss isn't good for masonry.

I see moss and algae damage all the time. I routinely find chimneys that are free of fungi on the sunny sides and then there will be moss or algae growing on the mortar on the north side. Scrape the mortar on the sunny side with a pick and it's in good shape. Pull a little bit of that moss off on the north side and scratch the mortar with a pick and it's soft, crumbling. discolored and more porous. The crowns on old chimneys are the worst because they're mostly old lime-based mortar as opposed to the new crowns that are mostly concrete. They'll be covered with moss and when I pull a chunk of the moss away it will bring the surface with it and wherever it sits on that old lime-based mortar the mortar will have turned brown and gotten really soft.

So, yeah, I believe that John is correct in his assertion that moss isn't good for that wall, but I don't agree that it's holding water against the wall; it's just growing on the areas that are moist from rising damp and is using it's digestive process to try and eat the surface. When the source of the water goes away, the moss will die, become dormant and stop trying to eat.

This is where I agree with Walter - "Tell the folks to find the source of the water, and make sure the water doesn't keep the foundation wet," because that moisture will freeze and damage the wall. I'd be looking hard at drainage and scratching around down there to see if there were a damp course in that stone masonry wall (Kind of doubt it, though.). The middle picture doesn't look like rising damp, it looks like water is running down the side of the house onto the foundation. It's narrow at the top and flares out; which is what you'd expect that water to do once it drains onto a porous surface. Are there eaves on this house or is it a typical New England cape without eaves and overflowing gutters?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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If moss hurt anything, would we not be seeing a crumbling foundation in that picture?

That is a stone foundation so it has to have a little age on it, say around 75+ years! I don't think that this is a new occurrence. My guess is that this has been around since day one, or when the trees grew to a point that they blocked the sun.

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That isn't stone. That's a stone-looking veneer applied over cement blocks or old brick; betcha' a dollar to a doughnut. We got 'em around here too.

I never bless moss, ivy, or any other sort of vegetation in contact with the house. It isn't a catastrophe, but it sure isn't useful. I'd tell them to get it off, sometime.

Brian G.

Vegetation is Over-Rated [:-thumbd]

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When you look at the last picture up there the angle shows the edge of the corner stone at the bottom. You can see the gap where mortar or concrete was missing and that somebody made an attempt to prop it up with a loose stone. From that angle, would you still say it looks like fake stone veneer?

I have seen the stuff around here but never took a close look at it so I cant really tell by looking at the picture but it looks like real stone from that angle.

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The stuff in my photo is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick overall. On that house it was installed over both cement blocks and old brick piers, and there were three different sizes of it. I've seen it several times and all were the same, but it may have been designed to copy the full thickness blocks in Walter's link.

So Abe, which was it? What did the foundation walls look like from inside the crawl space?

Brian G.

Oh Darling, When I Hold You Veneer [;)][-crzwom]

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I will say some more about moss. First of all I love it. It prevents erosion in my yard since 80% of my front yard is moss. I failed to keep up on the lawn maintenance and the moss took over. I have a shady yard with lots of big oaks.

It takes a moist shady environment for moss to get established. Once it gets established it is very hardy. The only way to really get rid of it is to physically remove it. It will survive the driest of droughts in the hot hot summers. My soil can be bone dry and all cracked up but the moss trudges on. I guess It must be surviving from the humidity in the air alone. Amazing stuff moss is.

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My backyard has a lot of moss. I tried to fight it at first but then realized I don’t like cutting grass! This has worked out okay for me –no more grass to cut in my back yard! I get moss on my foundation every so often I just hit it with water from my garden hose goodbye moss. I have yet to see moss causing a major problem on foundations on my inspections, but I don’t like any vegetation growing on buildings and recommend accordingly.

John C

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sorry, Ive been busy, haven't been checking in [:-bigeyes

Mike- This side of the house had no gutters or overhang. I believe the moss was caused by that.

The inside walls in the basement had no indications of water damage, although the floors were wet.

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Brian - The interior of the basement was all piled stone. The veneer is very common in my area.

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Neal - I must say, I'm a little surprised. With only 30 inspections under my belt in the last few months since I've started, everybody has been helpful when I wasn't sure of something or needed a different look at things. If I can't ask the more experienced inspectors here about something I'm not completely confident about, who could I ask? Did you start in this field knowing everything?

End of the story - I basically told them the lack of gutters and downspouts on that side of the house is causing water to penetrate into the basement and moss to grow on the exterior.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lets grow up! Moss is caused by moisture, lack of sunshine to dry it up will alow moss to grow. DUH!!!! Who cares if it's fake stone. The same thing will happen to brick. Been in the business for over 30 years. Tell your customer that moisture could be a problem in the future, and ways to get rid of it. If it's not a problem now don't worry about it. DON'T BE AN ALARMIST!!!!!

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