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wndsofchng06
Pier and curtain foundation
wndsofchng06

Hello all! I am new here and new to the old house game. I just bought a Victorian farmhouse in Durham, NC. It is a lovely home, I am living in it while doing some work to it. I am trying to mitigate 3 puddles that form under the house after heavy rain. The house sits on brick piers and now has a cinder-block curtain wall between them. I've dug down next to the house some, and wondered how far down to the brick piers normally go? Also it seems as though the curtain wall consists of: below grade, gravel, 2 inches of concrete, then at ground level or slightly below a thin block with holes laid on its side, then the normal cinder-block stack on top. Is this normal? I was thinking we may need to put french drains around the house, but now I'm scared there isn't enough holding the house up and if we dig along the outer wall we might cause more issues. Below I've posted some photos.

She's standing pretty straight. The floors inside all sag toward the center, but I think thats normal for the long joist span in these old homes. They guestimate the front portion of the house to be 1890s and the rear to be 1909-1910 ($400 mortgage document as evidence of an addition).


Rear chimney is very deteriorated. I've been told these were coal burning fireplaces...


here's a brick pier I dug along, seems to only go 6-8" into the soil???

here's the block curtain wall.... see the "hole in the wall" with dirt where a skinny cinder-block is on its side?

when I reference "skinny cinder-block" this is what I mean.... http://www.lowes.com/pd_10382-69478-4X8X16+HW+BLOCK_4294858233__?productId=3306764&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=

Jack
Re: Pier and curtain foundation
Jack

First of all I don't think your house is going to fall down. If I remember correctly the frost depth for your area is only 5" and current code only requires a 12 " depth for foundations. Rubble footers were used for years and from what I've seen hold up as well if not better than poured footers. The ones on my house have held up for close to 150 years and are well about the frost depth which is 48" here.

Jack

wndsofchng06
Re: Pier and curtain foundation
wndsofchng06
JLMCDANIEL wrote:

First of all I don't think your house is going to fall down. If I remember correctly the frost depth for your area is only 5" and current code only requires a 12 " depth for foundations. Rubble footers were used for years and from what I've seen hold up as well if not better than poured footers. The ones on my house have held up for close to 150 years and are well about the frost depth which is 48" here.

Jack

Well I sure hope it won't fall down...... This is my first OLD house. Last one was only 50 years old and when I sold it we argued like hell over the foundation brick vs brick veneer.... still cost me 8k to get out of it. I just don't want to cause additional problems trying to fix others you know?

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Pier and curtain foundation
HoustonRemodeler

Normally we highly discourage the curtain wall of block (or anything aside from screening) around the perimeter. The idea is to encourage air flow which keeps it dryer under the house.

SOme folks fear animals and thus build the block walls which pens in the water. Bad idea round these parts.

wndsofchng06
Re: Pier and curtain foundation
wndsofchng06

Ya unfortunately this is already in place and on a concrete footer. I think in one corner the skirt may be carrying the load under the kitchen... UGH

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Pier and curtain foundation
HoustonRemodeler

Its pretty easy to tell. Just as in the picture posted, the block wall was added between the support piers.

The support piers will be located directly under each support beam.

Do a google image search for "pier and beam" and see what looks familiar for your neighborhood.

wndsofchng06
Re: Pier and curtain foundation
wndsofchng06
HoustonRemodeler wrote:

Its pretty easy to tell. Just as in the picture posted, the block wall was added between the support piers.

The support piers will be located directly under each support beam.

Do a google image search for "pier and beam" and see what looks familiar for your neighborhood.

I know it's pier and beam, just curious how deep the piers should be, and if every one thinks the sideways block is the possible source of water. This can get very expensive. Especially if I have to fill all the holes and put a french drain.... As for "others" I am the last in the "neighborhood". I am a three acre plot with an old house and I am the oasis in the middle of instant pop up subdivisions. :-(

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Pier and curtain foundation
HoustonRemodeler

With proper air flow having a huge lake under the house isn't always a bad thing. I have such a huge lake which can last for weeks after a good rain storm.

The key is balancing the humidity below, around and inside the house. If you have standing water below the house, trapped by side walls, and run the AC or dehumidifier inside the house, all you will be doing is slowly sucking the water from below up and through the house.

What damage is the standing water making ?

wndsofchng06
Re: Pier and curtain foundation
wndsofchng06

I'm worried about the water on two counts.... if it keeps the ground near the piers constantly wet could it cause more sinking and/or deterioration of the brick. Second, it keeps the fungus/mold growing. I have a structural engineer's report saying the house is mostly done settling and the sagged floors are due to long joist spans and it's not worth trying to correct. But his inspection was not done during a wet period. The home inspector had a fit about the water. I don't worry about the mold, I used to do mold remediation. Just don't want to make more work for myself, or damage the piers any.

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Pier and curtain foundation
HoustonRemodeler

Then you know the problem is the excess water.

If this were my house:

1- Wait until its dry enough to work under the house
2- Set as many additional piers as you think you'd ever want. Consider deflection for future remodeling, particularly tile installation. Do this before you.....
3- Fill in the space between the piers with stabilized sand or plain sand. leave voids around each pier for termite treatments. Also - termites do not like sand as they cannot build mud tubes from sand.
4- Dome the entire space so the water drains away to the outside (or better said - never comes in)
5- Do NOT make a soil dam around the perimeter. Termites love it and it will fill with water at some point
6- Remove as much perimeter skirting as possible

wndsofchng06
Re: Pier and curtain foundation
wndsofchng06

***. I'm really surprized everyone is saying the curtain/skirting is bad. Everything I've even learned to this point was to close it in.....

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