I-Team: Free Concrete Test Could Help Future Homeowners Whose Foundations Are Collapsing

WARE, Mass. (WWLP) – The 22News I-Team learned about concrete testing for homes in western and central Massachusetts that may have crumbling foundations. The University of Connecticut has received money from the federal government to perform free tests and collect samples that could help homeowners in the future.

“There are tens of thousands of homes out there,” said James Mahoney, associate director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Institute at UConn. “We want to be able to try to help them. “

The Connecticut Transportation Safety Institute is participating in a multi-year study that tests concrete to determine how much pyrrhotite it contains. The mineral pyrrhotite causes crumbling and cracking of concrete when exposed to oxygen and water. Engineers drill a one-inch hole in different areas of the foundation. They bring these concrete samples back to UConn to be tested for pyrrhotite levels.

An engineer from the Connecticut Transportation Safety Institute at the University of Connecticut drills the foundation of a house to test for the presence of pyrrhotite.

“We’re trying to build a risk assessment program so that we can have some level of confidence – low, medium, high, or whatever way we define it as we go along – as to whether Is there enough pyrrhotite in the foundation to be a problem, or is it low enough that it’s a minimal risk type of thing? ”says Mahoney.

They can also test for pyrrhotite using electricity. They send small amounts of electricity through concrete to see how well it penetrates it. If it does not flow well through the concrete, it means that water and oxygen are less likely to enter it.

“It’s a much lower chance that you will have a problem because those are the two ingredients needed for this reaction to occur,” Mahoney said.

The Connecticut Transportation Safety Institute at the University of Connecticut uses electricity to test pyrrhotite.

They hope that one day they will have enough samples to find out exactly how much pyrrhotite makes a foundation unsafe. But Mahoney said they need more foundation to test to get there.

“The more homes we have, the better we can do that estimate and that assessment,” Mahoney said. “What we’re trying to do is collect as much information and data as possible so that we can then help people down the road, so that if you’re trying to sell your house and someone wants a test the foundation, and it comes back with pyrrhotite, maybe you will have a better understanding of the degree of risk to buyer and seller.

The solution to crumbling concrete is to lift the house, dig the wrong foundation, fill a new foundation with good concrete, and then drop the house. This is not covered by insurance and costs homeowners hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Michelle Loglisci advocated for legislation in Massachusetts that would help homeowners pay to repair their foundations. She urges anyone who thinks they might have concrete falling apart to get tested ASAP.

“We need the people of Massachusetts to step up and be counted,” Loglisci said.

Anyone interested in more information about the free baseline test can contact the Connecticut Transportation Institute at the University of Connecticut at 860-486-5400 or by email at [email protected]