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Old 12-05-2013, 11:30 AM   #1
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1950s Construction Question


Probably a stupid question, but what is the deal with the rusty wire coming out of the concrete stem wall in the crawl space? This house was built in the early 1950s. Is there a way to tell if the concrete is steel reinforced?

If you look further back in the photo you can see there is no sill plate and the joists are just sitting in the concrete. What the heck? Is this "normal" 1950s construction?
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:53 AM   #2
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Looks like it is left from from the forms. If you dig on the outside you will probably find the end of the wire. It was twisted around the vertical support member of the form to hold the form from splitting apart. Notice there are two at every spot.
It would be equivalent to the red lines in this diagram.


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Last edited by joed; 12-05-2013 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 12-05-2013, 04:02 PM   #3
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1950s Construction Question


I agree with joed,sure don't look like normal form ties,but the impression left in the concrete wall doesn't look like conventional forms either.


Forgot to say I doubt the wall has steel in it.
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Old 12-05-2013, 04:16 PM   #4
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1950s Construction Question


My house was built in the 1940's and the foundation looks exactly like yours. Like the others said, the wire was there to hold the forms together while the concrete was poured. If you don't like them, you can cut them flush with the concrete.

Regarding the sill plate: My house has one all around the foundation, but it is very black in some spots, making it hard to see. You may want to get a closer look to see if there really is one on your foundation. If not, I don't see what the big deal is--the house has been standing since the 50's!

And finally, there is no way to tell if you have rebar in your foundation unless you do some destructive exploration of your foundation. Rebar was used in the 50's in my area (northern California), but each region of the country is different.
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Old 12-05-2013, 04:58 PM   #5
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1950s Construction Question


I'm pretty sure, those are form ties.
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:21 PM   #6
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1950s Construction Question


you can chisel a little hole around the wires cut it and fill with concrete patch. There is a good chance that if you took some siding off, or opened an exterior wall you would find the boards that were used to make the forms, used for sheathing. ("waste not, want not") Probably no rebar, but a metal detector might tell you.
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Old 12-06-2013, 09:40 AM   #7
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1950s Construction Question


Thanks all for the explanation. I hadn't thought about it being left over from the forms. I did look at the wall from the outside like you said and they're visible there too--but since they're cut flush with the concrete they are really hard to see.

I also noticed that they must have reused the forms to make parts of the subfloor. In the crawl you can see concrete dust and remnants still stuck to the bottom side.

Thanks everyone for clearing this up for me.

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