Other opinions on the hole

I have shown the hole, the one in the load bearing wall, to a few folks.
Auntie, who came by with the camera to take pictures that she can’t seem to email to me, just said, “Oh.”
IT looked at the hole as well as a lot of brick I exposed and he expressed concern about the mortar in the party walls, remarking that there was lots of sandy mortar. Sandy, sandy mortar.
Lastly, I was able to get a contractor to look at it. After a string of cursing and tearing away the hanging plaster, he expressed disbelief in the idea that someone thought they could get away with hiding this. Well it’s gonna add to my construction costs. Lucky enough, there was a steel beam that could support the wall already supporting the floor of the kitchen. However, walls and part of the ceiling in the basement may need to be exposed to deal with the problem. And maybe a wall in the kitchen. Two places I thought would be free from construction, so I didn’t bother packing up those rooms. Now I have to.

7 thoughts on “Other opinions on the hole”

  1. Mari, if you need some stuff done, I have a guy who is good. He doesn’t do foundations, but he does drywall and a lot of other stuff. Anyway, shoot me an email and we can talk.

    I ran into a structural issue too recently, but I need to look around for someone who does foundations.

  2. i’m enjoying the journey of this blog…i knew a drag queen named Sandy Mortar, and she was FIERCE!

  3. Mari – you may recall I had mentioned in these comments about 2 months ago the distinction between older lime mortar and modern cement mortar and how important it is that older masonry only be repaired with appropriate lime mortar. Without seeing pictures I have no idea what might have caused this, but lots of sandy mortar dislodged sounds like the issue I was trying to allude to – if it had been patched with cement mortar in the past, water has a tendency to build up and dissolve the softer lime mortar behind the harder (waterproof) cement mortar, often leading to issues like this and structural damage.

    Sorry this happened to you, but I hope this example will encourage you to double-check that anyone doing any masonry repairs is specifically not using cement mortar and is definitely using appropriate lime mortar from Virginia Lime Works or another source. If it came from Home Depot, its the wrong mortar – they don’t stock it (hence all the houses being incorrectly renovated in the area). Frager’s hardware on capital hill does stock it.

    2nd st

  4. No repairs, just a big gaping hole.
    The sandy mortar IT was remarking on was in regards to the other walls, the party walls that I had exposed. Nope, no one has repointed or rebricked or patched these walls in the last 50-100 years. I don’t know how the hole got there. But I do know that several bricks in the house are self destructing. Some of them are like brickshaped lumps of red sand waiting to be knocked loose.
    There is a strong guess that the house at one time was vacant and exposed to the elements.

  5. This is terrible, I’m so sorry you have to go thru this. I sympathize, right now I am having my back wall pointed, hopefully that’ll prevent my pipes from freezing again as the wall was about as good as a screen door. Brian Brown/NextGen is doing it and i’ve been very pleased. He also did my bsmt renovation & foundation underpinning – really good at foundations. If anyone needs his contact, feel free to email me niello8 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

    fyi all, truxton forum is compiling a very useful master handyman list.

  6. got it. the loose mortar is almost certainly from water damage to lime mortar so your guess about the house being open to the elements is probably right on. similar issue happened to me in an area where flashing had been incorrectly attached around a window – the mortar hadn’t been repaired wrong, but water seeping down over the years hollowed out the wall real nice.

    2nd st

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