Crumbling Foundations – Devastating Homeowners and Communities

February 15, 2017

guglielmo

By: Senator Tony Guglielmo

One of the challenges facing many homeowners in Eastern Connecticut this year is the problem of crumbling foundations. While many of my constituents are already in the process of dealing with this devastating problem – there are many people who have never even heard of the problem.

The problem is presenting in homes that were built in the 1980’s or later, and is caused by an iron sulfide mineral called Pyrrhotite. This mineral has been found in one quarry in Stafford, Connecticut which provided building aggregate for construction projects in the region. Over time, Pyrrhotite that is exposed to oxygen and water reacts and causes swelling and cracking. As a structure continues to deteriorate, it often becomes unsound. While many engineers have researched ways to resolve this problem – currently the only fix is to replace the entire foundation of the affected home. Replacing the entire foundation of a home could end up costing the homeowner $150,000 to $200,000 per foundation.

Does your home show signs of the Pyrrhotite cracking?

Warning Signs of Crumbling Foundation:

  • The cracking is not normal settling or shrinkage
  • Cracks typically take 15 to 20 years to present
  • Brown stains or drips may appear that resemble rust

For more detailed information and photos detailing crumbling foundations, visit the Department of Consumer Protection website, at www.ct.gov/dcp/cwp/view.asp?Q=569328.

There are a few steps that I would encourage you to take if you think your home may be affected.

Contact a structural engineer to evaluate your concrete. You can verify the licenses and registrations of home improvement professionals such as home improvement contractors and professional engineers at www.elicense.ct.gov.
If the structural engineer determines that Phyrrhotite is present, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is asking homeowners to file a complaint form, so that the state can continue to determine the scope of the problem. Contact the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection at 860-713-6100 or at dcp.concrete@ct.gov to request your complaint form. Make sure to fill out the form as completely as you can and submit it.
Many homeowners have filed claims with their insurance companies, which have generally been denied. However, the Connecticut Insurance Department has notified insurance companies that they cannot cancel or non-renew a homeowner’s policy due to a crumbling foundation. Review your insurance coverage right away.

Even though Governor Malloy has been an advocate for families, both requests for intervention from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been denied. I will continue to voice my concerns for the denial of these claims – as I truly believe that this is within FEMA’s jurisdiction to help fix.

Moving forward it is imperative that we work together to help bring constructive solutions to this problem. There is no doubt in my mind that this has the potential to be a 1 billion dollar problem and it is right in our back yard. I want to remind everyone not to be short-sighted about this as this challenge will have a ripple effect on the towns and cities where crumbling foundations are discovered – especially as it relates to property values.

I am pleased to report that in Hartford, we have been working diligently across the aisle and have two upcoming events that homeowners will want to monitor and possibly attend.

The Planning and Development Committee will host a second Crumbling Foundations Information Forum on Friday, February 17th in room 2D at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The informational forums will be available online at www.ctn.state.ct.us .

On February 28th there will be a joint public hearing with the Planning and Development Committee, Insurance Committee, the Banks Committee and the Public Safety Committee. In order to make it easier for folks to testify at this public hearing all four committees will hear bills regarding crumbling foundations; the February 28th public hearing will be held at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, and will start at 10 a.m. in room 2C.

If you need more information about the informational forum or the public hearing please call my office at 800-842-1421 or email me at Anthony.Guglielmo@cga.ct.gov.