Crumbling Foundations: Governor Says State Is Monitoring Issue - NBC Connecticut

Crumbling Foundations: Governor Says State Is Monitoring Issue

In response to an NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters investigation, Gov. Dan Malloy says the state and private homeowners should monitor concrete foundations if it was poured by J.J. Mottes Company. (Published Wednesday, July 22, 2015)

Ed. Note: The original version of this story incorrectly referred to John Patton as the president of the J.J. Mottes company. He is, in fact, a spokesperson.

The state is finally taking notice of an issue of an issue plaguing eastern Connecticut homeowners for nearly 20 years.

In an exclusive interview with the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, Gov. Dan Malloy said the state is aware of the crumbling residential foundations allegedly poured between the early 1980s to late 1990s by J.J. Mottes Company, a concrete and septic supplier in Stafford Springs.

Malloy said it’s too early to know the full scope of the problem but is concerned it’s not only concrete placed for residential homes facing the issue.

"I’ve been briefed on it. We’re looking into it," Malloy told Troubleshooter George Colli. "Obviously this is going to take quite a bit of monitoring on the private sector side, and quite frankly, on the public sector side as well."

The state Department of Transportation is going through contracts from the 1980s and early 1990s to determine if J.J. Mottes performed any work on state roads or bridges. Spokesperson Kevin Nursick said the department's electronic database only goes back to 2008 and the company is not listed as a vendor during that time.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters investigated the problem and found that, according to contractors and town building officials, there is no fix. They said the concrete foundations must be totally replaced.

Dozens of affected homeowners told the Troubleshooters their insurance companies immediately denied coverage for the claim. The costs could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket. Not until recently have insurance companies begun to settle with policy holders, but only after a long legal process.

Malloy said he understands the issue to be a mineral mixed with cement "causing an expedited failure rate." One contractor is more specific, saying it's pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide mineral that, when oxidized by water and air, causes the concrete to swell and eventually crack. He said the characteristics of the cracking he’s seen in up to 75 homes is unique to the chemical reaction caused by pyrrhotite.

Malloy acknowledges this is not a situation anyone wants to face.

"We’ve just learned in the last 10 days that this is a condition that they’ve discovered, so it's way too early,'" said Malloy. "Folks who can trace their cement to that particular site are going to have to monitor it."

J.J. Mottes declined to comment on the governor’s remarks, but in a statement released Tuesday, company spokesperson John Patton said the company has had no reported issues with its concrete poured after 1998.

In the statement, Patton did not address the reported issues encountered prior to '98.

Contractors say the cracks often don’t begin to show for 15 years.

The company acknowledges it's just "begun working with managers, geologists and testing labs to review manufacturing methods and materials."

This review began this week only after NBC Connecticut first contacted them.

Many viewers contacted NBC Connecticut following the investigation airing on Tuesday. If you’re concerned you could have the issue with a J.J. Mottes-poured concrete foundation, email troubleshooters@nbcconnecticut.com with your story and pictures.

Ed. Note: As the Troubleshooters have reported on this issue over the past year and a half, the Joseph J. Mottes Company (JJ Mottes) has evolved its response.  Click on this link to see the company’s most recent full statement to NBC Connecticut and its response to the State of Connecticut.

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