Many of the old wood-frame buildings in my region were originally built on full-basement masonry foundations with masonry piers supporting the first-floor carriage beam at midspan.

It may seem that a brick pier makes an ideal choice for this task, especially when compared with a decay-prone wood post. But over time, many of these piers have deteriorated in response to the effects of rising damp, which is the movement of ground moisture up through the concrete footing into the brick. Once that happens, salts in the mortar —...

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