Foundation Lintels?

SparklingWaterAugust 9, 2014

Hi, I'm cross posting this with same in Old House forums and posting here as basement forum is pretty dry slow.

I'm wondering you might give comment on foundation lintels. Our house was built in 1948, In 1975, two additions were added laterally with crawl spaces enclosed by concrete and brick foundation.

Steel foundation lintels were designed to bridge height difference between original and new addition. The lintels are on the front wall foundation near the ground below concrete and bricks, just as you enter the crawl space opening from the original furnace room.

These steel lintels were used in place of continuous footings, as there was a change in footing elevation. The original concrete basement is sub grade around 8 feet, and the adjacent crawl spaces are sub-grade around 3 feet.

With all the rain we've had in the mid-atlantic area this spring, preceded by the polar vortex multi-freeze days and subsequent thaw, we had an isolated episode of heavy water entry (ground water rise and surface water). Over the last four months, focus of the source of the main water entry has feel upon these steel lintels, as the area beneath the lintel is open. This opening may be for venting of the crawl space as required then by code, and/or by contribution of dirt erosion from water.

I have been in the crawl spaces multiple times to check the brick on cinder foundation walls. Both exteriorly and interiorly there is no evidence of bowing, heaving, horizontal or vertical cracks. The steel lintels are not dislodged, are anchored on both ends of their length, show some rust as expected in a crawl space from moisture. They are roughly 5/8" (H) x 6" (D) x 4' (L).
Does anyone have any thought on how to reduce water entry? By the way, this area of the front foundation had full exterior waterproofing and drainage system away from house done by same company.

Thank you for any insight.

This post was edited by SparklingWater on Mon, Aug 11, 14 at 8:38

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I wouldn't fool with these.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 6:12PM
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Ha, Trebruchet. Do you mean leave well enough alone? Do you have any suggestions how to minimize water intrusion through this area?

That is where I am confused. Surely when this was foundation built, it passed City code, with the lintel installation.Is the hole for venting as I have read?

This post was edited by SparklingWater on Mon, Aug 11, 14 at 8:40

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 6:42PM
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This post was edited by SparklingWater on Sat, Aug 9, 14 at 22:40

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 9:27PM
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A photo would help a lot but if I had to guess, the waterproofing was probably not adequate. Many builders use damp-proofing and call it waterproofing. The first thing to do is prevent surface water from getting near your foundation.

A vent to the outside would be required by code but it is usually not effective and the wood can be attacked by fungus. But I don't know your climate or the floor surface of the crawl space. The steel lintels should be galvanized.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 8:49AM
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Thank you Renovator8. Below is a photo.

Regarding the exterior french drain and foundation waterproofing: this is a Best List/Angie List engineer owned (civil and geological) firm with few complaints over the years. They came well recommended and were paid well for their work. I do wonder why we were not told of these openings when they did the membrane part. I have faith in all steps except question if a good amount of course gravel was used in back fill (like 50%) rather than just put in the clay dirt removed which is a possibility, as well as if the pvc was wrapped in a glove to avoid silt entry. I have asked without response, but will ask again. After excavation, first any foundation holes were filled, then tar paint applied then thick water membrane was affixed. All of the exterior foundation 4" pvc runs to a pop up a good distance to the side which we check regularly. 6" gutters all-around the house with intact downspouts merged with their pvc. A 6" grade drop away from the house is my next step this fall. No tree roots in vicinity of foundation.

As to the dirt/cement crawl space surface, I removed all wet old plastic and broken tar paint- a laborious process done by hand, rolling up the old thin plastic, scooping the dirt/tar and putting all into heavy black garbage bags. I'll include a photo too of the work I just did in one of the two crawl spaces with installing new membrane over cleaned surface. Vents to this crawl are closed off to disallow humidity (zone 5).

This is a big work in process for me.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 4:13PM
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This post was edited by SparklingWater on Tue, Aug 12, 14 at 16:18

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 4:15PM
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