Need lots of help here!

Ok I inspected the oldest house I have inspected yet. The foundation walls were one brick wide but the girders sat on the thicker portions of the walls that were three bricks wide. Is there anything that needs to be said about a foundation wall that is one brick wide? Please let me know if anything you see in them looks wrong. I have never seen anything like what I saw today. It was a mess.may 1 236.jpgmay 1 240.jpgmay 1 249.jpg

Is the shut off valve lead? What is causing the orange stains? A rusting lintel?

What is the second photo of? It was under the fireplace? Any comments on the last picture would be helpful as well. If you want more photos just ask. ANY comments on any of these photos would be appreciated. The more the better. I have a general idea of what is going on in the photos I just need some experts to help me put my thoughts into words.

Obviously opinions are limited and as with pictures they may not adequately portray the condition of noted materials since we are not privy to any probings to the materials in question.

It is apparent that there are moisture problems as is evident by the fungal growth, insulation on the ground and efflorescence.

The shim under the girder should extend the full block with this type of notched girder. (what type of shim is that)

The mortar joints should be probed and any cracks around the perimeter of the foundation should be noted along with any related issues such as negative grade, soil erosion, etc. You should have also probed the footing…on many older homes such as these brick masons typically would hew out a footing, if you want to call it that, and then fill it with mortar and then start their foundation…this usually accounts with courses not being leveled.

The lumber is rough sawn which typically is pretty hardy since its old growth lumber
however probings should be down where ever there are plumbing fixtures as well as
around the entry doors or other areas where moisture intrusion could occur.

Insulation is not only fallen but installed wrong…paper side should be toward the heated area of the home (face up).

Looks like galvanized lead pipe…probably on a private well… or simply the pipe is rusting…from the inside out…that would account for the staining.

Looks like they tried to reinforce the concrete with 2 1/2" pipe but did not have the spacing correct. Can’t comment much further on that without looking at the fireplace
both at the interior and exterior.

That is what is see off the top of my head however its late and the Zmonster is kicking my butt.


Thanks for all the comments man! The shims are like some sort of thin slate rocks wedged in there. I guess I can write that it may be lead. Recommend a contractor or structural engineer?

Juan, pic 1 concerns me as it appears from the photo that the beam juncture is not level. The top of the joint looks wider.

That is what I was thinking as well. The improper shim created a sort of pivot point for the beam/girder to split on.

A few things to remember when inspecting a really old house, especially regarding foundations and framing, is;

How Long has it been like that?

Is it imposing a negative impact, or threat, on the structural integrity of the building in general?

Is it fairly plumb and level?

Did it appear to be (feel) solid?

Chris that is what my AHIT mentor always says and I always ask myself that. Everything felt solid and I know its an old home but I just really need as much input as possible. I want to make the report as accurate as possible without making the situation sound worse than it is. I have the NACHI narratives which is really going to help.

Huh? Slate is not lead. Considering that you are in Virginia, I think finding slate shims would be somewhat common. I’ve found slate shims here in San Diego in older, richer areas.

I was talking about the pipe possibly being lead.

Stone shims are fine worked for all this time has it not.
Insulation upside down, down way after the home was built
Mortar failing because of moisture , recommend repair needed, most likely the foundation is a pillar type and the brick is a filler in between the piers .

From your description, the brick perimeter wall appears to be be just that (a brick wall to enclose the crawlspace, not a foundation wall). This appears to be a post/pier and beam type foundation (brick columns/piers). This is a very common type of foundation in my part of virginia. I believe others have noted the issues in the photos: insulation installed wrong; moisture staining; mortar deterioration; etc.
It looks like slate roof tile were used as shims in one photo; probably not the method of choice (I have seen the same thing multiple times; I always note it in the report).

Can’t thank you guys enough! I guess the place was just a mess and I felt a little overwhelmed.

I won’t comment on the foundation. CA and VA are different worlds when it comes to adequate foundations.

That is the hearth extension for the masonry fireplace. It looks “ugly,” but it’s a typical installation.

In cases like this I take lots of shots and summarize rather than give exact detail on every single issue by stating the general condition and several examples with an explanation of the age,past techniques not being the same as today’s standards and as Chris mentioned look for anything that might cause massive failure.

Recommending outside contractors (specialists) needs to be considered.

The main water supply in the picture does not appear to be lead.(scratch it if not sure.)

Note (document)water intrusion and structural defects as main concerns then go from there.
Most of that red brick is after the fact.

Thanks Jeffrey! I had never seen it before but glad to know its typical.
Thanks Bob. That is a very good way to go about it and i totally forgot about scratching to test. Lead is soft and scratches easily right?

Actually it does not matter what material as you are just scratching the surface c-ap off.
Usually scratch is not needed if you look under the standard water meter placement on residential the pipe out of the ground is often curved or mis shaped slightly that you can tell or has a ball of lead solder at the joint/coupling area.

Never be overwhelmed as you only need enough to prove further review is needed unless you are going to play Engineer.
Non the less you must keep learning and most of us have far to go .:slight_smile:

Example: look at that beam connection and think it is totally wrong but is that how they used to do it and is it showing signs of failure (maybe not) however where it gets complicated is when they alter the living space structure and live load /dead load calculations might start to matter so keep studying ,I know I do.

Not enough time to add further bur I am sure to have someone dis-agree .LOL
Just read and enjoy.

Thanks for the info man. You are absolutely right.

Rock shims may or may not be adequate…simply because it’s rock does not mean that it is strong enough to support an undetermined amount of direct and tributary load upon it… I have seen these break and crumple.
I only recommend either 1.) pressure treated blocking, at least 1" thick or 2.) metal shims (engineers I work with only recommend metal).


Put a small magnet in your kit so that you can tell lead from steel.