Tolland, CT

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Know Before You Show



A quarry is an area of earth (usually a large hillside) of different formations of solid bedrock.

The rock is excavated, crushed and then used in various forms of construction. One common material produced from a quarry is aggregate (crushed stone) used in the production of concrete for the construction of roads, building foundations, etc. A “batch plant” is a facility (usually within a quarry or nearby) that manufactures concrete.

Pyrrhotite is a sulfide mineral (one of a group of minerals containing sulfur) that requires iron and sulfur to form. Excessive amounts of pyrrhotite in quarry-produced aggregate can be highly reactive in concrete.

When pyrrhotite is naturally exposed to water and oxygen, it breaks down producing sulfuric acid and various secondary minerals. The powerful formation of these secondary minerals takes up more space than the pyrrhotite they replace and this “expansion” cracks and degrades concrete.

What are the odds of a quarry in northeastern Connecticut . . .

Starting operation in a section of the quarry containing deposits of pyrrhotite . . .

Producing construction aggregate containing excessive amounts of the mineral . . .

Trucking the aggregate to a nearby batch plant . . .

And manufacturing concrete that ended up in the foundations of perhaps thousands of homes and other buildings?

Well, whatever the odds . . . It happened in 1983.

  Geologic Formations Containing Pyrrhotite - (Reference - CT DEEP Geologic Maps)

* "Ground Zero" Towns (Separated by Green Borders)

Soon after, several towns of the north central and northeastern parts of Connecticut discovered homes with foundations that were cracking and crumbling.

The phenomenon can take twenty or more years to develop and thus, for many, many years was largely unknown or at least unaddressed.  

But (a theory of this author) is the extensive amounts of snow that fell during the winters of 2012 through 2014 where sometimes three to four feet of wind-driven snow and ice accumulated on the roofs of buildings.

Out of fear of damage (snow rakes were sold out) and the accumulations were removed resulting in tons of snow and ice resting and melting against the foundations of homes and other buildings.

Remember – the expanding reaction of pyrrhotite requires water and oxygen.

The melting of these extreme amounts of snow and ice likely created a “feeding frenzy” for the pyrrhotite in the foundations.

Around 2015, homeowners began seeing the results in the form of significant and never-before-seen cracks.

The failing foundations reduced the market value of effected homes. And, it was soon learned that lifting a house to replace and re-pour a foundation would be a very expensive undertaking.

Around 2016, Connecticut towns provided financial assistance in the form of property tax relief for homeowners. This involved various inspections (with one-time fee reimbursement) followed by tax relief for affected homeowners.

On February 1, 2019 financial assistance for the replacement of crumbling foundations became available. This requires specific visual inspection that assigns a “Severity Rating” to the conditions existing at the time of inspection. Fee reimbursement may or may not be available.

However, this program qualifies a foundation for assistance even if no deteriorating conditions exist when inspected.

Remember, it can take twenty or more years for cracking to develop. So, regardless of the findings (cracks or no cracks) once the one-time inspection is performed, the foundation qualifies for assistance should cracks develop “down-the-road”.

In addition, if a qualifying visual inspection has not been done, it must be done prior to a purchase or the new homeowner may not qualify for the assistance should cracks exist or develop later on.

While a few homebuyers will accept all that comes with a home needing foundation replacement, this is unusual (likely temporary) and most will reject the home and move on.

Learning about a crumbling foundation at the time of sale can be a stressful and devastating crisis for a victim homeowner, especially when looking to take advantage of long-time, earned equity and move on in retirement or another phase of life.


(Click on Pictures to enlarge)





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Note from the author . . .

I have been inspecting homes and small commercial buildings for 36 years. During my career, I have seen asbestos, lead paint, mold and the discovery of the abundance of radon gas become important environmental health concerns of home buyers and sellers. However, the crisis of pyrrhotite-bearing aggregate in the concrete of residential foundations has been, by far, the most stressful and devastating experience Connecticut homeowners must face.  (L. Willette)

*    Due to the possibility of "dry aggregate" being transported to other batch plants, Pyrrhotite-Bearing Aggregate may exist in building foundations located in other towns throughout CT.