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Old 07-28-2009, 07:25 PM   #1
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Sinking Porch Wall


Hi,

Recently purchased the house. Want to know what can be done about the wall supporting the porch. It looks like it has been sinking in the past (i don't think it is actively moving). But there is a ton of mortar between the blocks and currently there is even more space there. Thanks for any advice.
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:54 PM   #2
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Sinking Porch Wall


Well by the looks of it, the block was installed after the porch. First off what purpose does the hatch in this wall serve? Also it looks as though this area was never properly tied into the existing structure. Just slapped up as a temporary solution. Do you live in an area with winter/icy conditions? Water can seep into cracks, freeze expand and open the crack further. Best bet may be to knock it out and redo with a level first course of block, or use another method of enclosure.

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Old 07-29-2009, 04:16 PM   #3
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I'm guessing the original blocks are from 1932 (when the house was built). The metal hatch was used to get coal into the basement for heating (it is obviously not used anymore). The block is supporting the porch, the brick column is supporting the roof of the porch (and part of second story), the other side is the house. I didn't think porches should be tied into the structure of the house.
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Old 07-29-2009, 04:22 PM   #4
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Sinking Porch Wall


First and foremost, make sure that rainwater is diverted away from the ground that surrounds the porch area. Sometimes that means adding some dirt to get that grade pitching away for several feet. Be sure that any gutter downspouts nearby are piped away from the home in some manner. That'll help ensure that any settlement caused by water problems is minimized.
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Old 07-29-2009, 04:44 PM   #5
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"thekctermite" makes a very good point, especially with older homes, but applies to all homes, water displacment solves so many issues!! Also, did you have a home inspection done? Hope so! Do you have an access to the underside of the porch? Crawl space, or just the decorative hatch? Porch or deck they have to be supported somehow. Are there any other major cracks along the top side/decking of the porch? Because if not, that decking is strong, or supported by some other means.
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Old 07-29-2009, 05:06 PM   #6
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We did the home inspection, so we were aware of the problem before we bought it. Even got one contractor to come out, but his idea was to tear down the porch completely and rebuilt from scratch. Seems a bit excessive to me, so wanted to get other opinions.

The hatch opens up, so you can crawl under the porch. There are some cracks on the porch, but they look they have been there a long time)
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Old 07-29-2009, 05:49 PM   #7
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Sinking Porch Wall


In your second picture it looks like you have some relatively "new" mortar and still nice sharp edges on some cracks which leads me to think the settling is fairly recent and therefore still active. However if your concrete deck isn't cracked then maybe not - or maybe it's new.

I also notice in the first picture that this wall is just a block wall inserted between the house and the original old brick porch pillar on the left. The masonry on the pillar and house look fine (and you can tell the mortar is much older than the infilled block wall).

My diagnosis is that someone decided years ago to replace the old porch wooden skirt or latticework with block to better keep out gremlins but they didn't put an adequate footing under the new block. Later another new row of block was added when they switched from the wooden porch deck to a concrete deck.

You could always tuckpoint it for now and check it in a year to see if it is still settling. The good news is that it doesn't appear the house or porch pillar are moving.

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