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  1. #1
    Ven Sri's Avatar
    Ven Sri Guest

    Default Cracks in the walls

    Hi,
    I am planning to close a property and found there are quite a few cracks on the walls predominantly near the door and window frames. I have attached a few photographs of the same.

    Surprisingly, the home inspection report is very shallow in this regards, did not recommend any action and has only the following to say.

    "A slightly larger than normal interior crack was observed at various areas of the wall. For cosmetic consideration we recommend repair of the surface and the underlying material as well, if necessary for a permanent repair."

    Can folks in this forum recommend/suggest looking at the picture.

    • I would like to know if these are cosmetic or something deeper and has any structural/foundational implications/causes.
    • What would be the cost of repair?


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  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    There is no way anyone on this board can look at those photos and tell you if that the home has structural problems.

    Drywall cracks as such are typical to see and they appear to be worse looking due to someone's crappy repairs.

    rick


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    I would recommend contacting your home inspector for further clarification since he inspected the home.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    i concur with the others but am interested on where the inspector trained for that artful photography technique...

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
    Commercial-Residential-Construction-EIFS-Infrared Thermography
    life is the random lottery of events followed by numerous narrow escapes

  5. #5
    Ven Sri's Avatar
    Ven Sri Guest

    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    I did contact the inspector. He has the following to say.

    "Variious cracks were noted on page 16 of report. I am unable to determine the cause of these cracks only that they are present. I also recommend that you contact a drywall repair specialist for cost estimates."


    The other things is the pattern. The cracks in all the walls originate from either a door or window frame. All I wanted to know was is this something common (for a 1960 construction) and folks experience this pattern commonly. If so is this normally major and needs to be attended immediately.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    I'll throw my 2 cents in. I see cracks like that very often on interior walls above door frames. The cracks typically indicate some level of deflection in the floor joists. As the joists sag or deflect under weight of furniture, property, and people, the walls get slightly pulled down as well resulting in the cracks. Cutouts in walls for doors are the weakest area of the wall and are typically the first areas to crack. Areas that have visibly been patched but cracked again indicate whatever caused the crack in the first place is still ongoing.

    Some of those cracks appear to be on exterior facing walls above windows. Are there any notations in your inspection report about cracks or repairs on the exterior walls or any mention of issues with the windows (hard to open or close, not locking, popped thermal seals, etc.)?

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  7. #7
    Ven Sri's Avatar
    Ven Sri Guest

    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    The home inpsection report only has the following in the exterior section. Also, the house was recently painted.

    "The exterior of the home shows signs of normal wear and tear for a home of this age and construction.

    There are minor sized cracks in the exterior stucco that should be patched and sealed as part of preparation for the next painting. Flexible patching materials are recommended rather than rigid cementious patching compounds.

    The driveway shows evidence of minor cracking. The cracks could be sealed for a better appearance and to prevent moisture intrusion.


    The walkway is badly cracked. The cracks could be sealed for a better appearance and to prevent moisture intrusion.

    The wood retaining wall at the rear shows evidence of minor water damage. This condition should be monitored. It is impossible to determine the rate of deterioration during a one time visit to the property.

    There are some larger than normal sized cracks in the driveway. The cracks could be sealed for a better appearance and to prevent moisture intrusion.

    The porch is cracked and/or heaved. We recommend the heaved and cracked areas be repaired or replaced as necessary."

    Also in the interior section, I found the following

    "One or more interior bedroom closet doors do not latch properly. We recommend that hinges, latches and strike plates be adjusted to restore full operation."


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    Where are you located? That seems like a whole lot of cracking going on. Try to find out why.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    I'm guessing that you are located in Sunnyvale, CA 94086?

    I agree that it sounds like a bunch of cracks. I would also like to say that your inspector has written the report in such a manner that it is non-alarming. We call this a soft report in our profession.

    Your inspector should be able to tell you that the home has foundation problems based on what he found during the inspection. It is not rocket science when it comes to determining if a home has had foundation settlement/movement. It really sounds like your inspector does not have the experience or intestinal fortitude to tell you what is going on!

    Based strictly on the pictures and what the inspector wrote in the report, I would say that the home in question has some type of foundation movement. The severity of it will need to be determined by an engineer who specializes in residental foundations.

    The above is my opinion only......

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  10. #10
    Richard Soundy's Avatar
    Richard Soundy Guest

    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    Of course the 1960 Home in SF Bay Area has been subjected foundation settlement/movement - at least 3 fair sized Earthquakes in close proximity in that time period.

    Quite possibly Ven Sri is new to the area and as such I would expect the report of the observed cracks to be reported in a non-alarming fashion. The shown cracks are common to all homes in that area.

    Calling this a "soft" report would lead one to believe that every home in the Bay Area requires a structural engineer evaluation prior to ownership/occupation. It is not going to happen and is not necessary.

    All the best - Richard


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    That makes good sense Richard assuming this house is located in an area of the country that has a history of earthquakes. That said, and again assuming the house is in an area with a history of earthquakes, the HI should be be able to expand a little bit upon what he sees and give a possible explanation as to why there may be so many cracked, heaved, and broken surfaces inside and outside the home.

    I would expect there to be some mention, either verbally, in the report, or both stating something to the effect of the area having a history of past earthquakes which could play a role in the observed condition of the property. Whether or not this was ever brought up verbally during the inspection is an unknown. Blanket statements like "normal wear and tear for a home of this age and construction" don't mean much to a homebuyer without some expansion on what normal wear and tear are.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    Ven,

    As has been said, exact cause is difficult for us without having done the inspection. The Loma Prieta quake could have opened-up those cracks and then poor patching would have exacerbated it. However, there are other considerations.

    For instance, I am in an area with a lot of expansive soils and cracks like that are fairly typical in homes constructed prior to the 1980s. Many homes constructed in the '60s did not have properly sloped/drained lots and expansive soils are present in much of the SF Bay Area. If expansive soils are present and if drainage off of the lot is minimal or poor, you might be able to minimize future cracks caused by seasonal expansion/contraction of the soil with installation of drainage.

    Is the foundation heavily cracked? Significant cracks in a foundation can transfer up into the walls.

    Oftentimes, a home inspector can only report what he/she sees. It is not always possible to determine underlying causes. If you are particularly concerned about the cause of these cracks, you might want to talk to a soils engineer or structural engineer.

    Department of Redundancy Department
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  13. #13
    Bruce Hutton's Avatar
    Bruce Hutton Guest

    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    Houses with no roof ventilation can contribute to cracks in walls / window heade Areas.
    During the heat of th e day the roof swells / expands / flexes.
    No collar ties in the attic & there is a lot of movement / stress going on.
    Are there cracks in the ceiling as well?
    If no ceiling cracks then probably not a venting issue.

    As Rick said...It is just hard to tell by the photos.


  14. #14
    Ven Sri's Avatar
    Ven Sri Guest

    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    The property is in Fremont, CA. Yes it has been exposed to major earthquakes. As far as the structure, the following is from the report. Hope this helps.

    "There is a condition known as efflorescence on portions of the foundation walls. This fuzzy material is a salt deposit left
    when moisture in the foundation evaporates on the inside of the foundation. This indicates an occasional surplus of
    moisture on the outside of the foundation. Steps could be taken to improve the exterior drainage (See “Roofing” section
    downspout locations for additional comments/recommendations in regard to this condition).

    Minor cracks were observed in the foundation walls of the house. This type of cracking usually occurs during the curing
    process of the foundation as is typical of most houses. If further information is desired in regards to these cracks the
    appropriate trades should be contacted.

    Surface deterioration (known as spalling) was observed on the exposed foundation walls in the crawl space or
    basement. This condition is common in many homes and does not usually represent a structural concern. In an effort
    to prevent long term deterioration, it would be wise to consider parging or patching deteriorated areas. Lot drainage
    improvements, as outlined in the “Roofing or Exterior” section of this report are also recommended."


    Last edited by Ven Sri; 10-20-2010 at 08:59 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Phoenix, AZ
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    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    Look, stop all the hand wringing and decide if you want the house or not. From the pictures, and the age of the house, it looks like the walls may be plaster, most were around that time. Plaster by it's nature is classified as a "brittle" surface cladding and will not hold up perfectly under the conditions in your area. The cracks are minor in nature and consistent with the condition of 99% of the houses in the immediate area. This is earthquake country, remember! If they bother you have the plaster broken out and install some control joints in the form of back-to-back casing beads, that might help the chances of them reappearing or getting worse after the next rumble, and there will be several over the course of time.
    The foundation, slab cracking and heaving may warrant serious consideration of major repairs, but the wall cracks are only indicative of the conditions where the house is. Not it's structural integrity. For that to be the case, there would have to be muck larger in appearance, and transfer through the entire wall cavity to the exterior. Then you have something to really worry about. Not these.

    I'm a dyslexic agnostic-Don't believe there is a dog...

  16. #16
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Cracks in the walls

    Typical, might be , maybe, should have, may have is all pretty silly as far as I am concerned.

    As soo as the heaving word showed up it was time to end the speculation as to whether or not the earth quake moved the home arouns and cracking occurred.

    Get a foundation company or even an engineer to take measurements around the home. They will tell you what is up, what is down, and what may have shifted where and how much as well as any possible structural repairs needed or grading and drainage at the exterior.

    For those that live, well, anywhere that there is expansive clay home do move but there is no such things as normal settling cracks. I see homes literally right next to each other where one home has been poorly maintained, wash out next to the home, flat around the home, no gutters etc etc etc that is cracked all to hell and the home next door has never been touched in 40 years but has been maintained and there is not a crack or patched crack in sight.

    Earth quakes.....well yeah. I would say you have movement from earth quakes. Soil conditions should be corrected when ever necessary to keep the home stable and there would not be all those cracks.

    I think it was a soft report and an engineer or at least a foundation company come in for some measuring.


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