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  • Sample of masonry inspection


    MASONRY BASEMENT WALL INSPECTION

    RE: Masonry wall inspection

    Per owner request, we inspected the east basement and east garage walls at the site.

    East Basement wall: This wall is exhibiting the symptoms of excessive horizontal soil
    pressure. The bowing is readily visible. The amount of stress developed in the masonry
    is proportional to the amount of bowing, and therefore must be assumed to be fairly high.
    Two vertical steel channels help to restrain the wall. These channels appear to be at their
    load carrying limit, and can't be counted on to resist any increase in soil pressure. It
    should be noted that the top of the channels are attached in a way that should be modified
    to properly get the load up to the subfloor diaphragm. At mid width, a floor beam bears
    upon the wall. We discussed the idea of locating a post support for this beam right next
    to the wall. While this may serve to take load off of the bowing wall, it is likely that this
    beam is helping to prevent wall bursting by providing compression to the masonry, which
    counteracts the tension being caused by the soil pressure. Therefore, any safety post
    would need to be installed so as to take no load off the wall, but be there in case of wall
    failure. This may not be possible.

    East Garage wall: This wall too, is exhibiting the symptoms of excessive horizontal
    soil pressure. The bowing is less visible than the basement wall. Cracks propogate
    diagonally from a floor beam bearing near wid-width. This indicates, as with the
    basement, that the compression provided by the beam is helping to stabilize the wall.
    This "pyramid" of blocks is holding up the beam. The adjacent triangular areas get
    no compression from the beam, and tension cracks open up due to the soil pressure.
    As with the basement, adding a post right next to the wall may not be a good idea.

    There is no practical way to determine how close these walls are to significant or
    sudden failure, but it must be realized that they exist in a condition of extreme stress and
    questionable stability. Soil pressure forces vary over time, and can only be estimated.
    Any attempt to show, with calculations, that the walls are structurally adequate would,
    in my judgment, be futile.

    Soil pressures are best reduced by removing the backfilled soil, re-plumbing the wall,
    reinforcing it, then backfilling with sand over a drain tile. It is very important that any
    existing wall drain tiles be kept free of any obstructions, as undrained groundwater will
    build up increased pressure on the wall. No tiles were observed, though they may have
    been hidden under snow. If existing drains are found to be plugged, they must be cleared,
    and the wall monitored for decreased bowing.



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Grand Rapids, MI 49546
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