Crumbling concrete in Connecticut causes building issues

Crumbing concrete foundations are causing issues, including potential building collapse, across campus and across the state. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Faulty concrete foundations throughout Connecticut are causing houses and buildings to become at risk of collapsing, with at least one building at the University of Connecticut having a chance of damage.

Connecticut houses built in the ‘80s and ‘90s have been reported to have large cracks and signs of damage in their concrete foundations, according to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. The cracking can cause houses to shake, vibrate and shift as the foundations deteriorate.

In the 1980s, the concrete company Joseph J. Mottes Co. used concrete obtained from quarries containing high amounts of the mineral pyrrhotite, which consists of iron sulfide, according to an investigation report done by the DCP in July.

When exposed to water or air for extensive amounts of time, the mineral oxidizes, essentially rusting and causing it to degrade. This leaves pockets and cracks within the concrete that the mineral is suspended in.

Currently, one building within UConn, the Advanced Technology Laboratory within the Bio Science Complex,  has been found to have concrete foundations provided by J.J. Mottes, said university spokesman Tom Breen, as well as some sidewalks around UConn.

“We have not received any report or complaint to date, or observed any issue, that gives reason to doubt the safety of the Advanced Technology Laboratory,” Breen said. “As always, we will continue to monitor and inspect all of our campus buildings, and take action to address any problem that may arise.”

So far, 34,000 homes within the Connecticut have been found to be at risk, according to the state, and many homeowners have been forced to find new residences. Foundation issues cannot be fixed easily, according to the state, and usually require extensive and expensive repair if the home is to be saved.

Homeowners have also had their insurance at risk of being cancelled. Currently, it is illegal for insurance companies to cancel or renew coverage plans due to crumbling concrete foundations, according to the state.

The DCP also encourages homeowners to have their houses inspected as soon as possible for re-evaluation on tax values.

Recently, The Capitol Region Council of Governments created an ad-hoc committee that met earlier this month to discuss the issue, including possibly providing assistance to current homeowners dealing with the faulty foundations and drafting a list of vendors for homeowners to contact, according the council's press release.

The exact number of houses damaged due to the faulty concrete is still unknown, though homeowners are urged to file a complaint through the DCP if they encounter any signs of structural issues within the foundations of their houses, according to the state.

Though no issues with off-campus student housing due to the concrete have been reported so far, renters are urged to contact the homeowner as soon as possible if any cracks are seen in the basement or foundation areas of the building, according to the state.


Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing