Hundreds, possibly thousands, of homes in nearly 20 towns across Northeastern Connecticut have crumbling foundations, with fissures so large you can slip a hand inside, reports Kristin Hussey and Lisa W. Foderaro of The New York Times. (subscription may be required.)

The scope of the problem is so vast that state officials have begun an investigation, and they recently announced that the crumbling foundations had been traced to a quarry business and a related concrete maker, which have agreed to stop selling their products for residential use. The stone aggregate used in the concrete mixture has high levels of pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide mineral that can react with oxygen and water to cause swelling and cracking. Over the past 30 years, the quarry has provided concrete for as many as 20,000 houses.

Insurers have mostly refused to pay for repairs, which, to replace an entire foundation, typically ranges from $100,000 to over $200,000, by inserting the word “abrupt” in policy language.

Because the affected swath of the state is home mostly to working- and middle-class families, many face financial ruin since their homes represent the biggest part of their nest egg.

“This is such an emotional roller coaster,” said Tim Heim, a homeowner who started the group Connecticut Coalition Against Crumbling Basements. “You can’t eat, you can’t sleep. When you’re told your home is now worthless and your biggest investment is now worthless, it’s devastating.”

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