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Thread: Cracked brick

  1. #1
    Jon mackay's Avatar
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    Default Cracked brick

    Just curios what you would recommend when you find a small crack in brick.

    The picture shows the only crack found. The crack is located to the right of the lintel area and is about 6 courses long. Would you want to just seal the crack with mortar or caulk to prevent water entry? Or is there something else that should be done?

    Also note the soffit at the left is falling. It looked as if it was only glued in place. I was assuming that it can be reset with fasteners to prevent future recurrence.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    The "step cracks" that you mention sound like they are very common. It doe not appear to be brick construction. Depending on the severity of the cracks I normally recommend to my clients to monitor these cracks and have tuckpointing as needed. I would also recommend that you comment to the client not to caulk the lintel where the soffit is. The cracks in the brick face are from the lintel rusting and expanding, any more moisture will just add to the problem and caulking these areas can just retain moisture.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Those cracks go straight down through the bricks so they're not step cracks. From the location of the cracks, it looks like the weight from the brick load above the window created enough downward pressure on the edge of the window lintel/shelf to cause the damage. Maybe the lintel/shelf wasn't pocketed far enough into the wall and doesn't have enough end bearing surface to spread out the weight.

    Sealing the crack would be only to keep moisture out and wouldn't really fix the cause. Weak bricks? Improper installation of the window lintel/shelf?


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Not any weep holes in the brick over the lintel either. That might have caused the soffit to come lose....moisture not being able to get out.


  5. #5
    Jon mackay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Interesting.. yes I wonder if the lintel does not extend the full 6"..

    I would be inclined to advise to seal the cracks and monitor for further separation before spending money on a major repair. Only because there really is no way to ascertain if the issue will worsen or not..


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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon mackay View Post
    Just curios what you would recommend when you find a small crack in brick.

    The picture shows the only crack found. The crack is located to the right of the lintel area and is about 6 courses long. Would you want to just seal the crack with mortar or caulk to prevent water entry? Or is there something else that should be done?

    Also note the soffit at the left is falling. It looked as if it was only glued in place. I was assuming that it can be reset with fasteners to prevent future recurrence.
    Jon, that is a strange crack. Not like any I have seen that were due to settling. My guess would be that it is due to some form of push-out. Possibly framing too close to the brick and then fire-blocking that was too long and was pounded into place.

    I would recommend re-pointing the cracked mortar and sealing the broken brick to prevent moisture intrusion and provide a means of monitoring for further movement.


  7. #7
    Jon mackay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Vern, that makes sense.. That is what I was leaning toward.

    Thank you..


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Do you guys write up missing weep holes in the veneer over lintels for doors and windows?

    Last edited by Wayne Carlisle; 02-12-2010 at 11:36 AM. Reason: added missing

  9. #9
    Bob Barnett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    Do you guys write up missing weep holes in the veneer over lintels for doors and windows?
    I only state missing weep holes for proper drainange and ventilation behind brick siding. I leave it that. But I also consider the age of the house and tell the clients that when the house was built weep holes were uncommon.


  10. #10
    Bob Barnett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon mackay View Post
    Just curios what you would recommend when you find a small crack in brick.

    The picture shows the only crack found. The crack is located to the right of the lintel area and is about 6 courses long. Would you want to just seal the crack with mortar or caulk to prevent water entry? Or is there something else that should be done?

    Also note the soffit at the left is falling. It looked as if it was only glued in place. I was assuming that it can be reset with fasteners to prevent future recurrence.
    When I look at the picture i see a few things. First off there appears to be cracks above as well I could be seeing things but it appears directly above the corner. I also do not see the lintle in the pocket. Typically most houses I do will have a slightly larger mortar line at door ways and windows to accomodate the metal. This one does not look like it does.


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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon mackay View Post
    I would be inclined to advise to seal the cracks and monitor for further separation before spending money on a major repair.

    Okay, here is a question: "Monitor" on who's dime?
    - A) The seller's?
    - B) The buyer's?

    Hopefully, you will see the problem with "monitor" something when there is a change in ownership.

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

  12. #12
    Jon mackay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    I didn't notice any cracks above..

    Hmm... ok Jerry, I do see your point.

    What would you advise if it were your client? I didn't see any other cracking and its a 25 year old house..


  13. #13
    Chris Turner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    The cracks should be ground out and be tuck pointed with mortar to match. Broke brick should be replaced. It is noted sometimes the repair in these case's is more noticeable than the crack due to difficulty in matching mortar. The crack should be monitored for ongoing cracking indicating active movement and the need for more invasive repair.



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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon mackay View Post
    What would you advise if it were your client? I didn't see any other cracking and its a 25 year old house..

    When I think I know what the problem is, or at least am pretty sure, I explain as much as I can about the problem and its related costs to fix and to not fix.

    When I think I am making a good guess as to what the problem is, I explain that to my client along with what the problem might be and the costs I can think of, and try exploring things I've not not thought of and tell the client same, which means recommending someone to come in and make appropriate repairs, acknowledging that they cannot first determine what repairs are needed with making their evaluation of it (which mean I do not need to tell someone to "further evaluate" something as that is a no brainer, that is like telling a "painter" to "paint" - that is what they do, they just need to know "what" "where" and "what color" to paint it).

    And when I have only a scientific wild arse guess or a wild arse guess (there is a difference between them) I recommend the appropriate contractor/engineer/etc. make appropriate repairs. I possibly postulate about possibilities I can think of, but make sure that my client knows I am just working through logical "guesses".

    Back to the brick ...

    When brick or block cracks vertically down through it ... SOMETHING did not go right.

    In the case of the photo that might be the lintel has insufficient bearing, that it is a shelf angle and there was no compressible material between the brick below the shelf angle and the shelf angle metal, could be shrinkage of the wall framing which was not fully allowed for, could be ... many things ... but the only way to "know" is to open something up and take a look - and THAT, as they say, "ain't gonna be cheap" and your client needs that information to go forward, or to not go forward with - their decision.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
    Bob Barnett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Okay, here is a question: "Monitor" on who's dime?
    - A) The seller's?
    - B) The buyer's?

    Hopefully, you will see the problem with "monitor" something when there is a change in ownership.
    If the purchaser accepts the responsibility then he would monitor it. But why not put a statement in the sales agreement about this crack and if it develops further the seller will be responsible for it.
    If it was me, I would let a structural engineer do his job. We are not experts just generalists. Once you act like one, you will be expected to be sued like one with any wrong calls.


  16. #16
    Bob Barnett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon mackay View Post
    I didn't notice any cracks above..

    Hmm... ok Jerry, I do see your point.

    What would you advise if it were your client? I didn't see any other cracking and its a 25 year old house..
    9th brick up 3rd brick from the right in the joint.
    Have you lived in Endicott for long? I was born and raised in Bingo town.


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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Barnett View Post
    If the purchaser accepts the responsibility then he would monitor it.
    If THE BUYER suggests they do that, all the more power to them, but the *HI* should not be the one to suggest that in their report.

    But why not put a statement in the sales agreement about this crack and if it develops further the seller will be responsible for it.
    Bob, take 2 minutes and think about what you just wrote ... time is up ... ... tell if you really think ANY seller is going to agree to be held hostage (put money in escrow, but - how much money in escrow) when they sell a house and walk away?

    If it was me, I would let a structural engineer do his job. We are not experts just generalists.
    That's what I (and a few others) are always saying - get the structural engineer - or other qualified person for other things - to make the appropriate repairs, do it BEFORE closing, divvy the money up, cut the losses, never count your money at the table, know when to walk away, know when to run (Kenny Rogers )

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

  18. #18
    Jon mackay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Thank you, its so good to get all of the different perspectives.... Very helpful and it all makes sense...

    Bob,yes I have been here for quite some time...


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    I would be a short lintel 4" causing the crack Simle fix install a angle on the interior on the opening and tack it to the lintel and rest it on the foundation


  20. #20
    Bob Barnett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If THE BUYER suggests they do that, all the more power to them, but the *HI* should not be the one to suggest that in their report.
    I don't put it in the report, but I will make a passing mention of the possibilty


    Bob, take 2 minutes and think about what you just wrote ... time is up ... ... tell if you really think ANY seller is going to agree to be held hostage (put money in escrow, but - how much money in escrow) when they sell a house and walk away? If they want to sell the house bad enough they will. especially with the crappy market we have right now. as for price, Dunno ask a structural engineer for a better idea.



    That's what I (and a few others) are always saying - get the structural engineer - or other qualified person for other things - to make the appropriate repairs, do it BEFORE closing, divvy the money up, cut the losses, never count your money at the table, know when to walk away, know when to run (Kenny Rogers )
    See remarks above


  21. #21
    Bob Barnett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon mackay View Post
    Thank you, its so good to get all of the different perspectives.... Very helpful and it all makes sense...

    Bob,yes I have been here for quite some time...
    All of my family lives up there in Vestal and Endicott.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Jerry: If THE BUYER suggests they do that, all the more power to them, but the *HI* should not be the one to suggest that in their report.
    Bob: I don't put it in the report, but I will make a passing mention of the possibilty
    Jerry: That can still get you in trouble, the HI *should not* be suggesting the buyer take future responsibility for something which the seller SHOULD address before changing ownership to the buyer.

    Jerry: Bob, take 2 minutes and think about what you just wrote ... time is up ... ... tell if you really think ANY seller is going to agree to be held hostage (put money in escrow, but - how much money in escrow) when they sell a house and walk away?
    Bob: If they want to sell the house bad enough they will. especially with the crappy market we have right now. as for price, Dunno ask a structural engineer for a better idea.
    Jerry: Not even a seller needing to dump the house would want, or be able to, do that. They would be far better off just coming to a compromise amount and walking away, instead of agreeing to leave a large amount of money, for a long time, for something which they will likely never see nor hear from again. If the seller needs to leave that badly, the bank will likely have the house and the buyer will then be stuck working with the bank (good luck there), so if the buyer wants the house *WITH THE PROBLEM* let them get as much as they can, knowing that they may well have to kick in an unknown amount at some unknown time, and buy the house ... or ... if they are not comfortable doing that, then cut their losses and walk away from it.

    A great many HIs seem to have a habit of counting their buyer's money or the seller's money and trying to make the HI report fit "the money aspect". The HI report should report what is found, in all of its unadulterated gory ... it is up to the real estate agents to sugar coat a POS and make it look and smell like something other than a POS - it is the HI responsibility to report that a POS is, indeed, a POS, regardless how much perfume and makeup has been applied (and is it common that the more perfume and makeup applied the greater the smell and the worse the look is beneath that applied crap ... A rose by any other name is still a rose ... and a POS by any other name is still a POS.

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

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    I would recomend you to seal the crack with mortar.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Since the brick veneer could be removed down to the foundation and the house would not fall down I would not consider the crack in the brick to be structural. If it is was in the foundation I would consider it to be structural to some degree. My recommedaton would be to seal the crack, monitor, and repair as needed. The buyer knows this is my opinion before they buy the house and therefore know they could have the expense of fixing the problem if it gets worse. It is up to the buyer to decide if they are willing to accept the risk. They could still ask the seller to fix the crack even if I do not say it needs to be repaired in my report.


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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    Since the brick veneer could be removed down to the foundation and the house would not fall down I would not consider the crack in the brick to be structural.

    James,

    That statement is correct as far as you took the statement, however, if you were to take that statement further, you would understand why that statement is incorrect in its totality.

    "Since the brick veneer could be removed down to the foundation and the house would not fall down I would not consider the crack in the brick to be structural."

    Properly installed brick veneer does not crack through a brick, or more than one brick, on its own - the brick is suitably strong to resist cracking. Thus there was an unintended movement of SOMETHING SUPPORTING the brick (we do not know what moved or why it moved) and that unintended movement of something supporting the brick allowed/caused the brick to crack. As such, then, "the cracked brick" is not the serious problem which needs to be addressed, but "the something which moved" and caused the brick to crack is what needs to be addressed - and sealing the crack will do nothing toward finding out or solving the "something which moved" problem.

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

  26. #26
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Jerry....I agree that something unseen caused to to crack but it could be something as simple as a bad batch of mortar used to lay the bricks in the area that cracked. The brick veneer is no more structural than vinyl siding.

    I'll stick to my opinion that cracks in brick veneer are not structural problems and cracks in foundation could be structural and may need a SE to evaluate. Every crack in every brick does not need to be referred to a SE IMHO. If the brick veneer is falling off the house due to cracks or bowed due to corroded wall ties then I don't refer it to a SE. I say it needs to be repaired.

    I do make my clients aware in the report that if cracks in the veneer gets worse it may need to be repaired on their dime. I doubt that the crack in the OP picture is from a foundation problem. It looks like a brick veneer problem.

    Your mileage may vary! :0


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Cracked brick

    Due to the window opening immediately above, I suspect the most likely cause is water infiltration from above and behind the brick facing, which flows and freezes immediately above and to the right of the lower elevation opening behind and inside the less than solid facing brick.

    Weeps and drainage don't help much when the freeze/thaw cycles prevent the water/moisture behind and in the facing wall to freeze before it can drain dry.

    Most common in the north, especially with hairline horizontal cracks in the mortar, ice dams, and ice cycles/freezing on the face of the facing brick.

    I'd be looking for points of intrusion, above at the window opening immediately above and adjacent to this opening, the top of the wall, near the roof, signs of ice daming, icecicles cascading on the wall, and areas caulked/sealed that shouldn't have been, and for bowing in this area of the wall & above.

    An experienced mason would be amongst the suggested evaluators. Since the original post was during a February, some thermography may also have aided pinpointing cold spots and areas where heat loss and moisture pockets/frozen pockets behind and within the facing wall. IIRC correctly mention was also made of an area of soffit or frieze which required attention, although the photo didn't appear to include that - perhaps a location where ice problems are occuring.

    Work raking joints clean and replacing mortar is called repointing. I agree that the cracked bricks should be replaced but this area likely needs flashing work first (requiring excavation as well) due to the replacement shorter fixed & slider unit installed inset.

    Facing bricks are usually not solid bricks, even if solid - in a northern climate cracked bricks should be replaced or reset with mortar joints on all sides excepting a finished side exposed vertical for a designed weep. "Sealing" facing brick in the north is usually a "no no" especially in older construction (house now 26 yrs. old) will generally lead to failure from trapped moisture freezing within and the rapid deterioration of the brick itself.

    P.S. Upon blowing up the photo, it appears the slider unit was replaced with an "off the shelf" height unit rather than the originally taller unit and the opening capped off at the top - thus the sagging "soffit" reference. This improper installation and lack of proper flashing remediation of a too-short unit and "capping" creating its own entry point and a pan/catch basin of sorts, may well be the main entry, collection and transport means of water/moisture to the problem area to the right, trapping moisture and possibly freezing in the voids of the facing brick itself , and behind. There also appears old (butyl?) caulk under the soldier sill for the window above and no open areas for drainage from same.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 03-21-2010 at 09:20 AM. Reason: post script after "tweaking" larger image of photo.

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