New Crumbling Foundation Test

Trinity College Professors devise less expensive test for mineral causing homes to crumble

Hundreds of homes in Connecticut are in danger of collapsing because of their crumbling foundations, and now a pair of professors at Trinity College have come up with a less expensive way to help homeowners test for the issue.

Crumbling foundations are a problem NBC Connecticut Investigates exposed three years ago, and there could be many more homeowners who don’t know they’re at risk.

Up until now the only way to determine if concrete has the mineral causing the collapses was to drill several core samples from a basement, and count crystal specimens under a microscope.

That usually costs between $4000 to $5000. This new methods cuts the price in half.

It has the attention of Bill DuPont from Stafford. He built his home, and now has a basement crumbling underneath it.

DuPoint is among hundreds of homeowners across Connecticut with a problem that can cost $200,000 to repair, and most insurers don’t cover it.

To get state help, DuPont needs to test his concrete for pyrrhotite, a naturally occurring mineral experts say causes the cracking. That testing has historically cost upwards of $4000.

Now there’s a test that costs half that, about two-grand.

Trinity College Environmental Science Professor Christoph Geiss helped devise a two stage method that detects pyrrhotite by testing for its magnetic properties, down to a few tenths of a percent.

At first, Trinity had no plans of offering this to the public.

But Geiss said they changed their mind when “it became clear that it would actually be of value for homeowners for this test.”

So far, Trinity has analyzed two dozen sets of concrete cores for pyrrhotite since offering the service.

Dupont says he’s interested in the test.

“If it’s half the price, sure, I’d be in for something like that,” said Dupont.

The coring and testing through Trinity also qualifies for a rebate from the state, of up to 50 percent for two cores. In the end that reduces the total cost for a homeowner to $1000.

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