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  1. #1
    Robert Gable's Avatar
    Robert Gable Guest

    Default excessive expansion joint gap?

    Hello,
    I'm new to this forum. I am not an inspector, but I am a first time
    home buyer. Here is my question: Me and my wife are looking at a house
    in Wylie, TX. We really like it and have already had an offer accepted on it. But before we close on it, we hired a certified Texas Home Inspector to check it out for us.

    He found several issues on the house, some trivial, but some concerning. I'll give the top two in my eyes. The first is there is about an 1" crack in what appears to be an expansion joint at the ridge line on the south end of the house. When I first saw his picture, I thought that is a big crack and prob shouldn't be there. But from what I've read online and in this forum, this is not a splitting of the brick in two, but a planned split, or expansion joint. It appears now that it has a visible crack there. I assume that it would've been filled in with mortar at the original construction, and over time has separated.

    Anyway, he seems to think that it is not a foundational problem, but he did recommend a structural engineer take a look at it. He also took a picture of this from the inside of the attic and it shows some caulking. So, maybe the previous owners knew about this and sealed it off from the inside to prevent wind and water instrusion?

    Again, he doesn't think that the house has a foundation issue, but there is a bathroom door on that side of the house that sticks a little when it's shut. There are small cracks in the garage and on the front porch, which may not mean anything. Also, he found a small crack in the foundation in the front corner of the house.

    Here are the particulars of the house: built in 2000, has had 2 owners, has not had a sprinkler system soaking the foundation, so don't know if it was properly watered. Is a 2 story house, with 3 bedrooms and bath upstairs, and has a slab foundation.

    Any comments? Would you say this crack, or any of the other findings a major concern? Thanks in advance of any replies. I will later enclose some pics if I can figure out how to do so on this forum!

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    I agree with your inspector. Any of the items taken by themselves may not mean anything but together paint a picture of movement, maybe foundation, maybe rafter thrust, maybe... a lot of things. Get a structural engineer to take a look, and maybe some measurements and his documentation with the house if you decide to go ahead with the purchase so the next buyer will have it.
    By the way, that does not sound like a planned expansion joint from your description.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
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    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    Don't rely on a sprinkler system to properly water around the foundation either. Most do not water evenly as would be needed to maintain proper moisture.

    I recommend the use of soaker hoses.

    rick


  4. #4
    Robert Gable's Avatar
    Robert Gable Guest

    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    Thanks for the replies.

    Yes, the inspector did mention that the crack may have been caused from excessive weight on the roof, ie, new shingles. But, he did not see any evidence that the shingles have been replaced.

    Also, I have heard from others that a soaker system would be best than a regular sprinkler system.

    Also, he noticed that the master toilet leaked a bit when flushed. Seems that the top part lost its seal with the bottom part. That bathroom is in the same vicinity of the house as the sticking door. Could foundation movement have caused that seal to loosen, or is that a reach?

    Attached are some pics of the things I mentioned.

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Gable View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    Yes, the inspector did mention that the crack may have been caused from excessive weight on the roof, ie, new shingles. But, he did not see any evidence that the shingles have been replaced.

    Also, I have heard from others that a soaker system would be best than a regular sprinkler system.

    Also, he noticed that the master toilet leaked a bit when flushed. Seems that the top part lost its seal with the bottom part. That bathroom is in the same vicinity of the house as the sticking door. Could foundation movement have caused that seal to loosen, or is that a reach?

    Attached are some pics of the things I mentioned.
    That expansion joint is not right, there is something major going on there. You need a structural engineer to figure out what is going on or just walk away and find another house.
    The concrete cracks in your photo have nothing to do with foundation movement, but that does not mean there is no movement.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  6. #6
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    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    That expansion joint is not right, there is something major going on there. You need a structural engineer to figure out what is going on or just walk away and find another house.
    My thoughts exactly.

    Even when taken into consideration in and of itself after seeing that photo (which were not available at the time of the first two replies - that photo makes a BIG difference).

    The concrete cracks in your photo have nothing to do with foundation movement, but that does not mean there is no movement.
    Agree with that too.

    I would not say "Run Forest, run." ... yet, but ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
    Robert Gable's Avatar
    Robert Gable Guest

    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    Thanks guys, I appreciate the candor. I was so-so on whether to
    proceed with the purchase after the seeing the inspection report,
    but after seeing your responses, we will prob be seeking another
    home.

    The place is a foreclosure and has other issues, the second worst
    problem after this crack, is that it has some big HVAC issues. There
    are 2 units, one for each floor. The bottom story unit doesn't blow cool
    or hot air, while the upper unit works decently. The inspector seems
    to think that it would need some servicing, but how much who knows.

    Jim, I noticed on your website that you know a bit about HVAC systems.
    The inspector noted that the "heat strip on the lower unit seems to be
    inoperable" and "in the a/c mode, with the thermostat at 73 degrees, the
    duct shows 75". The seller agreed to a home warranty on pre-existing items, but I don't really want to deal with a system like this that may have chronic problems.

    Saying all this, I would have to say that we're going to have to start looking again!


  8. #8
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    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    Why would someone put an expansion joint down the centre of a gable wall? Never seen one ever as in the picture.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    The thing with expansion joints in brick is that brick is well known to come out of the oven "as small as it will ever be", thus "expansion" is a given which must be allowed for.

    However, what is shown in that photo is neither expansion nor contraction, that is "movement further apart" resulting from something going on with that wall, its foundation, the brick ledge, or ... ???

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
    Robert Gable's Avatar
    Robert Gable Guest

    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    Yikes, sounding worse after each post..

    Here are a couple pics of the house from a wider angle that we took.
    This might offer some perspective. Pic 004 shows the south facing wall that has the crack at the ridgeline. The other shot is looking at the west side of the house.

    Really like the place, but think it could be a real headache..

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  11. #11
    Derek Kelly's Avatar
    Derek Kelly Guest

    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    Built in 2000!!! Sorry,too much to worry about .. move on


  12. #12
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    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    Structural Problem/s. Although I'd like to see more pictures of the framing in the attic what has been shared shows shifting, missing, and significant movement, and that great stuff foam proves the problem was existing when last occupied.

    Whether it was hacked after movement or the hacking then loading caused movement, or the attic was overloaded, or there was a catestrophic event such as earthquake or severe storm; what we're seeing now is spreading in addition to significant shifting.

    L collar lie dropped, main beam end support shifted to R and ridge beam shifted to L. Also note drop in the brick courses. Not sure if a photographic artifact or lense distortion, but the long view photo looks like the upper facing wall might be bowing as well.

    Unknown scale unknown if attic floor joists serving to tie correctly or lower ties are present.

    Its a given significant remediation expenses the only question is how much and how it could be engineered. A structural engineer can specify materials and methods whether or not it could be cabled (come-a-long together) etc. However, at a minimum the facing brick on the gable end would have to be Removed to allow for bracing during the corrections to the framing & Replaced since it cannot be allowed to remain as it is with such significant movement and it would be tied in to the sheathing and that alone would be very expensive, likely the roof deck or a portion would likewise need to be R&R'd.

    Then there is the unknown water intrusion/moisture/mold/insects/rot behind the facing brick breach.

    If you're not prepared to negotiate some more invasive examination and testing with the holder and investing in engineering reports, and not willing to partake in some serious down time (no occupancy) while significant structural repairs are taking place, still unknown if there are additional foundation issues, etc. I'd recommend recision and looking elsewhere. If you are willing to invest in further examinations and reports then do so and see what the engineer determines. You might want to first explore how realistic your selling entity is to negotiate after they see the photos, if they're not willing to allow more intrusive examinations - then definately pass.

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    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 10-22-2009 at 07:18 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    Location
    TX
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    Default Re: excessive expansion joint gap?

    Hello,
    i have a similar split in my expansion joint on exterior brick wall. Did you ever find out if it was a structural problem or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Gable View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    Yes, the inspector did mention that the crack may have been caused from excessive weight on the roof, ie, new shingles. But, he did not see any evidence that the shingles have been replaced.

    Also, I have heard from others that a soaker system would be best than a regular sprinkler system.

    Also, he noticed that the master toilet leaked a bit when flushed. Seems that the top part lost its seal with the bottom part. That bathroom is in the same vicinity of the house as the sticking door. Could foundation movement have caused that seal to loosen, or is that a reach?

    Attached are some pics of the things I mentioned.



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