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  1. #1
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    Default Foundation Wall Crack

    Does this look serious enough to have a structural engineer called in to have a look? The first picture is the outside and the second picture is in the garage. The crack was visible in 2004 but to what extent I am not sure. There were no pictures taken then. The inspector did say it was not significant then. And they have tried to repair it as you can see.


    Jim Murphy

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  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Looks like there is about 3/8" movement to me, since the patch was made, which was after 2004.
    Yes, call for a SE to determine what should be done.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    I would definately call for evaluation by an SE on that. Just my opinon.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Looks like I can even see daylight through that crack in places.

    I would definitely call for a structural engineer to design appropriate repairs. That wall cracked, was patched, then cracked again. That wall may have been patched and cracked again several times.

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

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    A crack that was has been patched and cracked again is one of the easiest calls you'll make. A cracked patch indicates some level of ongoing movement.


  6. #6
    Richard Pultar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    I don't see a repair.why waste money to have somebody say its cracked, just get a mason to replace the cracked block.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    I don't see a repair.why waste money to have somebody say its cracked, just get a mason to replace the cracked block.
    You're right, it was patched, not repaired. But simply replacing cracked blocks may not resolve the problem. That much cracking requires an engineer or a smart person of some kind to determine what has gone wrong with the foundation, and then design a repair. It's not just a fault of the blocks.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    I don't see a repair.why waste money to have somebody say its cracked, just get a mason to replace the cracked block.
    OK, how about a cosmetic patch?

    Getting a mason to replace the cracked block is akin to having a drywall installer replace ceiling material damaged by a water leak when the leak is till ongoing. Yeah, you could replace the cracked block but what do you do when it cracks again? You need to figure out why it cracked and correct the root cause before replacing the cracked block will make any sense.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    Why over think?
    a simple ? replacement of block maybe with durawall or a few rebar spanning the area where the fear of a recurring crack might appear is a better use of money than only looking at it.

    Doing ANY repairs without "looking at it" to figure what really needs to be done would be the real waste of money.

    I simply do not understand inspectors who would rather waste fist-fulls of money one after the other rather than address the CAUSE and correct the problem. Simply boggles my mind why inspectors would think that way.

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

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Pultar View Post
    the house was probably designed for a thirty year lifespan tops 50. Why over think?
    a simple ? replacement of block maybe with durawall or a few rebar spanning the area where the fear of a recurring crack might appear is a better use of money than only looking at it.
    If money is no issue then soil boring etc , go for it , I'd really lean towards pilings or a helicoil lift job.
    If you can tell that just by seeing a couple pics of a cracked wall, you're in the wrong line of work.

    Inspector: No need to fix this wall. The house was only designed to last 30 years. 50 years tops. Just patch it up and knock the whole thing down in about 10 years.

    Client: ...................WHAT???????


  11. #11
    Allan Davis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    This is really an easy one. Crack top to bottom inside and out, light shinning through. If you recommend anything less than a qualified contractor to evaluate and repair as needed, you won't be in business for long. It's obvious that the foundation has failed below the crack. I would recommend a qualified strucutral repair contractor to evaluate and repair as needed.


  12. #12
    Phil Brody's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    It probably wasn't significant then and probably isn't now,unless someone needs the money. A couple of tubes of flexible sealant and paint unless there is some visible sign of movement else where.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    The foundation hasn't failed the footings have!


  14. #14
    Pat Rodio's Avatar
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    Default Further Evaluate

    I would def. recommended further evaluation. Like Jerry noted, you can see daylight shining through, and you don't know the condition of the footing.

    And don't worry about client's "wasting money." You're actually looking out for them (and protecting yourself).

    If you tell them to simply patch it and it ends up that the footing has failed, you'll be wasting YOUR MONEY when they sue ya.


  15. #15
    Allan Davis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Correction to my previous post, I meant to say footer (thanks raymond). When you report on cracks like this you have to look past what you think (thats like gambling sooner or later you will lose). You report what you see, what the implications are and your recommendations. If you recommend sealing with caulk, then you are taking on liabilty if you are not correct or if your recommended method doesn't pan out. Don't get me wrong, if it was my garage I would probably do that (but I'm not going to sue myself). I feel that a much better recommendation is to have a qualified contractor evaluate and repair as needed. It clearly places more liability on the buyer to either act or not and liability on the qualified contractor. But thats just my opinion. Remember the nice buyer today is the one next month that calls and says the you were wrong and they would have never bought the house but you said caulk would take care of it. Now they want you to pay for the 5 piers they have been told they need. And of course the contractor will throw you under the bus and say "WOW your home inspector should have caught this." Contractors love to come into problems like this because they smell blood in the water. They know price is not much of an issue because someone else other than the homeowner maybe paying for it.


  16. #16
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    Post Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Yes, a licensed structural engineer should be hired to evaluate and design a repair.

    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    As an engineer, I state that no person, not matter what his or her qualifications are, can simply look at one foundation crack and determine whether the foundation is structurally sound and stable. Many other factors enter into the investigation, such as the home structure and construction and site characteristics. For sure, where there is one crack, particularly of this size, others likely exist either in an adjacent or perpendicular wall. If I were investigating this crack, as has already been stated, I would be particularly concerned that the crack was repaired and has reopened, apparently with a vengeance. The indication is that the foundation is not stable. Cover your tail and recommend a SE.


  18. #18
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    St. Louis, Mo. area.
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Anytime I see a crack that has been patched, and has then reopened again with significant movement, I point out that the underlying cause has not been addressed, and I recommend further evaluation by a qualified structural engineer or foundation repair contractor. This one is a no-brainer!

    Last edited by Michael Chambers; 11-08-2009 at 11:30 PM. Reason: To fix the stupidity that the spellcheck missed!

  19. #19
    Phil Brody's Avatar
    Phil Brody Guest

    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    As a PE we get these all the time, generally if it is less than a 3/8" with no other signs of movement (drywall pulls, cracks etc. ) it is not significant, but should be monitored.The footing might not have failed the soil load bearing capacity probably did .........Again location Daniel Island SC , special soil considerations.


  20. #20
    Patrick McCaffery's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Seeing this significant a crack, I would try to see if there is a root cause; house built on the side of a hill, water from downspouts too close to the foundation or possible back fill problems. Even if I was able to find a root cause, I would also recommend having a Structural Engineer investigate and advise. The Structural Engineer would be able to determine the significance and would also recommend the correct repair.


  21. #21
    james hise's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    A vertical crack through an older cement block wall is almost always a settlement issue. Most likely there is another crack hidden on an adjacent wall or even across the room. I'd suggest a second look for confirmation. Caulking a crack like this is only a feel good cosmetic repair. Settlement cracks are also usually larger at on end and smaller at the other...hard to tell with a partial picture.
    Look upstairs around doors and windows for diagonal drywall cracking to confirm settlement in this area of the house.A structural engineer is a good investment for something like this. jim Expert Basement Repair Company


  22. #22
    John Pignatore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Determining cause and stabilizing movement is necessary prior to making any repairs. An SE with a recommended method to cure is the best way to go.


  23. #23
    Robert Pike's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Klein View Post
    As an engineer, I state that no person, not matter what his or her qualifications are, can simply look at one foundation crack and determine whether the foundation is structurally sound and stable. Many other factors enter into the investigation, such as the home structure and construction and site characteristics. For sure, where there is one crack, particularly of this size, others likely exist either in an adjacent or perpendicular wall. If I were investigating this crack, as has already been stated, I would be particularly concerned that the crack was repaired and has reopened, apparently with a vengeance. The indication is that the foundation is not stable. Cover your tail and recommend a SE.
    I agree -a licensed structural engineer should be hired to evaluate and design - repairs have been on going for years. What did the site look like ? Expansive soils ? tree roots? cracked foundation ? There are other things to look at as well.


  24. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Chandler, AZ
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Yikes, and OMG! Not to beat a dead horse, but if an inspector doesn't call for more evaluation, they may be buying that house, or paying for the repairs.

    As an Arizona inspector, and this is taken from the "AZ Standards of Professional Practice" for which we follow....
    "...inspectors are NOT required to report on:
    Life expectancy of any component or system.
    The causes of the need for a major repair. Etc.

    Yes, we don't want to scare buyers, but we do want them to know if we feel something needs more evaluation. Then it is up to them to decide to do it, or have Bubba come out and put another band-aid on it.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Thanks guys.

    Dave Hill
    Buyers & Sellers Property Inspections LLC
    WWW.BuyersSellersPi.Com

  25. #25
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    I call any cracks out. further review by a contractor/licensed structural engineer.

    Start with a contractor for a cost and then a licensed structural engineer if they want to buy the home.

    Best

    Ron
    Santa Rosa California Home Inspection - Exterminating & Thermal Imaging

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    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 11-09-2009 at 10:20 PM.

  26. #26
    Stacey Van Houtan's Avatar
    Stacey Van Houtan Guest

    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    Having repaired various foundation issues as a contractor in the past. I would only recommend a SE if it appeared unusual, different that what I see on a regualar basis. I would recommend a Foundation or Structural contractor. A SE only if special designs are needed. This will save the client money many times. If it is a FHA loan then the lender MAY require a SE (or in my backwards State a PE) review.


  27. #27
    Patrick McCaffery's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foundation Wall Crack

    To Stacy,
    If there is evidence of a crack and a previous repair, I would think that repairing is not solving the problem, therefore determining and correcting the root cause of the problem is required. A home inspector should try to find the root cause, however having a PE or Structurl Engineer recommend the repair would probably be warrented.
    On one inspection of a 90 year old home, I found a foundation wall that was bowed and showed signs of previous repair. At the time of the inspection, I could feel moist sand at the bottom of the foundation wall. I was able to determine the cause for the moisture, (an overhang and improper gutters) on the outside of the house. I suggested some solutions for the overhang and gutter, but referred the wall to a Structural Engineer. The Engineer indicated that there was no problem with the wall. Whether is opinion is correct or not, the liability is now on him. The client did buy the home.


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