Looking for advice on porch system

Place I looked at today was a 3 deck metal porch system with steel I beam supports going into exterior full split faced block and half CMU at beam pockets inside free standing wall for support.

OK in case you are wondering I am guessing the design was for the wall to also block noise from an el train system behind it.
This is all in the shadow of Wrigley field.(damn Cubs).(Go Sox).:slight_smile:
Question is how should this be designed to prevent the beam ends from rusting?
Does the wall need flashing like a regular building wall?
Remember it is free standing and parallel to the rear of the building but away at the far side of the porch system.

Yes the beam ends are rusting and the pockets are sealed.
Should they be open? and should there be some kind of flashing.
Any helpful links,codes, intelligent reasoning, is pleaded for.
(oh ,the porch is only 5 years old)



Not sure of an answer for you, as I rarely see this scenario, and then it’s usually in commercial applications. My only thoughts are that an annual maintenance plan, which included sealing the exterior (weather side only) of the block wall to minimize moisture migration, would have prevented most of the problem.

I must come up with the tough questions.
Thanks for bumping it though.

Give Will a call, if you are still on speaking terms with him. :wink:

OK BOB I will try but excuse the technical answers ( lack of ).
See that often in Montreal Qc.
The beams are rusting and will damage the cement as the rust deepens. It expands and beaks the cement and any wielded jointing.
You will start to see staining from the iron beams( rusting )being carried onto the block.
Sorry best I could do.
Now the first photo ( I ) beam in pocket must be grind-ed then rust proofed.
All the metal rust must be stabilized.
The construction looks 4 years old at the most and was not rust-proofed.

You will have to look into the cement blocks integrity.
Bring the photo to your local brick and block yard.
I have heard of certain exterior styled facade block in Chicago area having problems with wicking water inside ( accepting water ) and showing effervescing stains and that,s the start to the breakdown of the material.
Call out in your report to have a mason ( will rounded ) look into the work.
Problem with that in Montreal is that a mason only knows masonry and will not comment on anything but… You have painting (sealing) problem and if not sealed the metal will start to break down. Wielded areas and cement by explaining rust.

Will does not work on Saturdays so I am not sure he even goes on here .


As a minimum I would suggest the rust be removed and the steel primed and painted. All structural steel should be protected from the weather unless you have rust resistant metal such as stainless, galvanized, aluminum, or A588 weathering steel,etc.

Would be tough to do what is inside that split block I imagine.
Wouldn’t it be too late?

Yes that is split block.
But does a self supporting wall need flashing since both sides are open (actually 4 sides)
There was a weak attempt at the pedestrian entrance.(lintel)


Ideally all the steel should have been primed and painted. As it is right now prime and paint all visible steel and maybe seal the block around the steel to help prevent additional moisture form wicking into the block.

Looks normal for a 5 year old structure. Find something more important to worry about.:wink:

That may not be a good idea with no flashing.
Sealing may trap it further.

Bob looks like a maintenance nightmare and in my opinion exposed steel in a poor product for exteriors unless as Randy stated rated for such use. Finding a solution is possible but wont be easy due to access. I think all you could do short of cutting some block is get the surface you can reach with some chemical rust treatment. Once it rust it will be a continuing maintenance issue.
Not much help I know, but 1/2 an idea.

Should this be left as an open pocket?

Also would you guys recommend porch contractor or Mason?

I feel a Mason would be a better choice for proper repair. Who knows what a porch contractor would do.

Again the Montreal-area , that is number 5 zone, there is a greater use of metal fire escapes on multiply level condos and apartments.
It is always primed and painted.
Normally when I assisted in building ( as mason ) the beams hangers where bolted in cement and the wielders would attach by direct bolting or wielding certian facets of the stair construction.
In BOBS picture the beams are anchored on place in pockets in the block work, and again iron is used as a form of bridging the gap between the block and the beam to atchive a level and anchoring points that the beam rests on.
I have seen this practice used before( pocketing the iron ) but by inexperienced contractors ( block masons ) that are cutting corners by not introducing the design to the iron workers to approve the bracing design.
Again bolting or pinning and wielding being the best standard to use.
I am guessing mind you ( about the standards used in BOBS photos)and will run out to get photos in the spring to show you the workmanship in Montreal. Hopefully sooner.
The pockets for the iron work in BOBS photos can lead to failure faster due to the rusting and any movement caused by the expansion and contraction in the mass of iron work in those stairs.
My opinion.

Bob I would think interviewing a few Contractors, listen to them and get details see if they make sense.If they scratch thier head it can be a good sign.There are several out there that are really craftsmen and understand how things work to say a porch or mason contractor my leave you missing the right guy. A true GC would understand but might be hard to find. They employ several trades in house. Maybe an Exterior Restoration Contractor. They Paint,Tuck-point, Fabricate etc…

To top it off they used concrete on the stairs which is spalling heavy and is in use at the deck ares with slab like cracking.
Normally see diamond plate on those surfaces.