Block wall issues?

What are the requirements for supporting a block wall? I did a comercial inspection today. Metal building with a split face block wall on the front of the structure. 1 story. Photo 1 & 2 shows the exterior. 3rd shows the wall from the interior above the drop ceiling. Photo 4 shows some separation between the wall and the metal siding on the sides (I don’t know if the separation is due to wall movement or caulk shrinkage). I counted at least 17 courses of block above the drop ceiling with no visible support. I don’t know if they are tied in to the structure from the ceiling down (sheetrock walls at the front interior hid the building method).

022210 039.JPG

022210 147.JPG

P.S. Anyone see anything to prevent water entry into the sheetrock wall system? (Below the ceiling, the building interior is traditionally finished with sheetrock.) The owner called me to inspect it because he’s having water entry problems, that he thinks is due to leaking windows. I think it’s due to absorption through the masonry. No weep holes present either.

Not knowing myself, my initial thought is you are trying to do a phase construction after the fact.

Just notate the issue with the joint .

I guess I stumped everyone but Bob.

Here’s what I ended up saying:

"The single wythe split-face block wall at the front of the building has no apparent system to prevent water entry. It is an exceptionally porous type of wall system. No drainage plane or weep holes were apparent and the interior cells of the block wall probably were not designed to shed the water which naturally and easily penetrates the block. Effloresence visible on the interior of the block wall, above the ceiling, indicates that moisture migration through the wall occurs. And there was no indication of the application of a water repellent to the exterior surface of the block. Where water proofing is applied, it generally requires a re-application every 3 to 7 years. Moisture wicking into the block may be trapped in the cavity between the block and the sheetrock, a condition conducive to mold growth behind the sheetrock walls. The masonry wall was also in contact with soil, which is another source for water migration through the wall. That interior cavity was not visible to us. Our client mentioned window leaks, but we suspect the leak is actually due to the wicking of water through the block, as the windows appeared to be generally well sealed. With a lack of weep holes (at the main building–they were present at the addition), any water entry into the cavity holes can drain as easily into the building as out of it. We observed no interior moisture present on the day of the inspection, and we also could not view behind the sheetrock. We recommend an evaluation of the wall structure and water proofing methods by a licensed general contractor familiar with the construction of split face concrete masonry walls.

The concrete masonry wall at the front of the building may have moved, as a large gap was present between the metal siding at the left side and the front wall. This provides a path for water entry and should be sealed at the minimum. We suggest that you have a licensed general contractor ensure that the wall is properly anchored to prevent lateral movement."

Looks good Joe, I will be interested to see what others have to say. I believe you covered it by mentioning that the block should be sealed.

Unlike residential construction, the commercial side has so many variables involved that each plan is unique and as a result engineers directions but be followed precisely including those dealing with moisture management.

Other than dealing with water management issues and reviewing blueprints available, a GC is limited as to what they can truly offer in regards to bringing solutions to the table… an engineer is what is needed along with the blueprints which could be on file with the county.

I would simply report what I see, the issues with split face block and that further evaluation is warranted including review of existing blueprints.


PS. Metal building manufacturers are a dime a dozen…some provide engineering for various facades including split face block however most do not… they defer to outside architects and engineers.