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  1. #1
    Bill Wong's Avatar
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    Default Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Hi All,

    Thanks for reading this thread and hope that you can help me know if the horizontal crack/line spanning the entire width of the wall in the attached photo is enough of a concern to not put an offer on this house.

    Thanks!

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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Hire an inspector to look at it prior to putting in an offer. Can't tell what is going on with out additional information What type of soil? the grading is bad an the downspout needs improvement. both of these issues will affect the foundation.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    I don't see that as a 'crack' as you are probably thinking. i.e. defective wall, will the rest of the house crack apart, is the house going to fall apart, should I run the other direction, etc.
    When you see a crack line that consistent across a wall its probably a separation gap between dissimilar materials or varied installation at that level. Maybe they installed a different brick at that level, maybe that's where the rim joist is set, etc. You'd have to see the inside to hopefully get more indicators. Was the house raised at some point?
    Hire a good inspector, not some cheap checkbox idiot.

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  4. #4
    Bill Wong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Quote Originally Posted by stanley frost View Post
    Hire an inspector to look at it prior to putting in an offer. Can't tell what is going on with out additional information What type of soil? the grading is bad an the downspout needs improvement. both of these issues will affect the foundation.
    Thanks! We are in New Jersey but I do not know what type of soil it is. Not sure if my understanding of grading is correct but the grading by this wall is basically the slope of the property. From the seller's disclosure, this wall is part of an addition put on in the 70s.

    By inspector, would a home inspector suffice? Thanks!

    Last edited by Bill Wong; 10-05-2012 at 07:09 AM. Reason: clarification added

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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Wong View Post
    Hi All,

    Thanks for reading this thread and hope that you can help me know if the horizontal crack/line spanning the entire width of the wall in the attached photo is enough of a concern to not put an offer on this house.

    Thanks!
    Try this site it might give you more information
    How to Evaluate and Diagnose Foundation Cracks: Foundation cracking, foundation bowing, foundation settlement, foundation leaning, foundation movement - Chapter on how to diagnose the cause and how to repair foundation cracks, foundation leaning, fou

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

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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    My guess is that the did not have enough concrete on the initial pour and had to order more to finish it causing the cracking between the first and second pour.

    Galen L. Beasley
    Inspections Supervisor
    Housing Authority of Kansas City MO

  7. #7
    Bill Wong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Hi Scott,

    I did read that site last night and I noted that in the section regarding horizontal cracks, the site has the following statement:
    "HORIZONTAL FOUNDATION CRACKS - Patterns

    These notes presume that you are examining a wall which is entirely or nearly all below-grade level."

    Since this wall is entirely above grade, I am wondering if the information on the referenced site applies to it.




  8. #8
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Bill, That appears to be a block foundation with a parge coat. This type of foundation does have a tendency to have lateral cracks which can be a reason for concern. But in my experience such cracks are not normally found so high in the wall. At this point I wouldn't run screaming out of the neighborhood just yet. As Stanley referenced, the grading seems to be sloping in towards the foundation which can put notable pressure on the wall but that's a landscaping issue.

    A good home inspector who has some real mileage and training under his belt could guide you as to whether there's a real concern or not.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  9. #9
    Bill Wong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Hi Markus,

    Thanks! I realized that for this particular wall, I did not get to see the inside of the wall as the door was locked then. It is part of an addition that was added in 1970. From what I can see and remember, it is a block concrete wall with a concrete coat (not sure what to call this) on top of it. I am pretty sure that the crack line runs along the mortar between the two blocks.

    I have to arrange to go back to see it again and yes, I will definitely get a good inspector to look over it. In NJ, we usually only have the inspection after the contract passes attorney review though....

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    I don't see that as a 'crack' as you are probably thinking. i.e. defective wall, will the rest of the house crack apart, is the house going to fall apart, should I run the other direction, etc.
    When you see a crack line that consistent across a wall its probably a separation gap between dissimilar materials or varied installation at that level. Maybe they installed a different brick at that level, maybe that's where the rim joist is set, etc. You'd have to see the inside to hopefully get more indicators. Was the house raised at some point?
    Hire a good inspector, not some cheap checkbox idiot.


    Last edited by Bill Wong; 10-05-2012 at 07:30 AM. Reason: Added clarification

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    From what I remember and if you look at the bottom right corner, the wall is constructed from concrete blocks (my realtor says cinder block when we were looking in the basement and not this addition) with a concrete face coat. Would the below statement still apply?

    Thanks!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Galen L. Beasley View Post
    My guess is that the did not have enough concrete on the initial pour and had to order more to finish it causing the cracking between the first and second pour.



  11. #11
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks! I have recommendations from my friends on a good home inspector.

    But it seems that I am advised to go into contract before getting an inspection.




    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    Bill, That appears to be a block foundation with a parge coat. This type of foundation does have a tendency to have lateral cracks which can be a reason for concern. But in my experience such cracks are not normally found so high in the wall. At this point I wouldn't run screaming out of the neighborhood just yet. As Stanley referenced, the grading seems to be sloping in towards the foundation which can put notable pressure on the wall but that's a landscaping issue.

    A good home inspector who has some real mileage and training under his belt could guide you as to whether there's a real concern or not.



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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    I suggest you go back and hang a string with a weight (plumb bob) against that wall. If the major portion of the wall is plumb, straight up and down, then you likely have little to worry about. A leaning block wall is trouble, in varying degrees, and then you need someone to look at it more closely.

    'Cinder blocks' are a cheap version of a concrete block, having waste cinders from factories added to the concrete to lighten them. You want to build a foundation with Concrete Blocks or 'CMU's.

    The wall has been 'parged' with a stucco coating, for looks and weatherproofing. Small cracks are normal.

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

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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Bill,
    Just as a side not. Cinder block wasn't used past the 50's much. Mostly pre 1950 .
    Many people still use the term cinder block as a generic term for a block as apposed to a continuous poured concrete.

    Contract and then inspection says to the seller you are serious. Always can back out based on inspection, if so written in contract. Pretty much standard on the east coast.


  14. #14
    Bill Wong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Hi Garry,

    Yes, the house is really in great condition other than this horizontal crack line in the wall of the addition and maybe 1 other crack along the mortar that I noticed in the basement that's below grade. They all look straight and without any bowing of the walls. (I have seen 1 house where the basement wall is bowing in)

    I believe the contracts in the East Coast does have the clause that we can back out if there are any structural issues.

    Hi John, I will take the above suggestion to use a line and weight to check for plumb.

    Thanks so much!


    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Bill,
    Just as a side not. Cinder block wasn't used past the 50's much. Mostly pre 1950 .
    Many people still use the term cinder block as a generic term for a block as apposed to a continuous poured concrete.

    Contract and then inspection says to the seller you are serious. Always can back out based on inspection, if so written in contract. Pretty much standard on the east coast.
    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    I suggest you go back and hang a string with a weight (plumb bob) against that wall. If the major portion of the wall is plumb, straight up and down, then you likely have little to worry about. A leaning block wall is trouble, in varying degrees, and then you need someone to look at it more closely...



  15. #15
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Close up shots:





  16. #16
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Wong View Post
    From what I can see and remember, it is a block concrete wall with a concrete coat (not sure what to call this) on top of it. I am pretty sure that the crack line runs along the mortar between the two blocks.
    Looks like the crack and movement you get between a bond beam and the wall section below it when no or insufficient vertical filled cells, and/or there is no vertical steel in the filled cells.

    I also see the same type of crack at the corner where the corner should be filled cells with steel in it, there is probably no connection or HJR from the corner into and across the wall.

    That is where an infrared camera sets you apart from others as you would be able to see the filled cells, or lack of filled cells. And, before this is asked, no, the infrared camera will not show the vertical steel in the filled cells - okay, it might show if the steel is right up next to the face shell (you might see it then, but I doubt it), but if you see that steel line the required clearance between the steel and the face shell was not provided.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Bill, be sure to ask the vendor for an historical perspective of the condition in addition to the other suggestions.


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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    That is where an infrared camera sets you apart from others as you would be able to see the filled cells, or lack of filled cells.
    OR
    you could tap on the block. Hollow block sounds different that filled block.
    (That is how the AHJ inspectors do it around here)

    Of course, being the experienced inspector that you are, you already knew that. However some less experienced inspectors may get the idea that using an IR camera is the only way to tell.

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

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    OR
    you could tap on the block. Hollow block sounds different that filled block.
    (That is how the AHJ inspectors do it around here)

    Of course, being the experienced inspector that you are, you already knew that.
    Doing that rubs the skin off my knuckles if I do that much, and my knuckles hurt from that.

    However some less experienced inspectors may get the idea that using an IR camera is the only way to tell.
    I would *hope* that no one thinks that the only way is to use an infrared camera, however, the infrared camera will tell you more than knocking on the wall with your knuckles or even a hammer - see photo below, you can see the filled cells, the webs, and the mortar joints.

    A very good way to tell is to knock on the wall with a hammer ... if you don't mind damaging the finish on the wall and chipping out a little bit of concrete block.

    While inspecting the concrete infill walls on some high-rise condo towers I kept telling the contractor that the cells were not being filled as they were supposed to be. I still had my infrared camera at that time so I checked the walls with it, he did not believe the camera, so I had him mark where the filled cells were (most locations were already marked on the wall with marking crayon), I had him select walls where he was absolutely sure the cells were filled, looked at the walls and told him which ones to hit with an engineer's hammer ... 100% of the ones I had him hit were not filled ... he became a believer in the infrared camera pretty quickly - and chewed his crews butts out, and then he got chewed out by the project manager because he was not checking the walls as he should have been.

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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Doing that rubs the skin off my knuckles if I do that much, and my knuckles hurt from that.
    As the Doctor would say, " Don't do that".


    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I would *hope* that no one thinks that the only way is to use an infrared camera,
    Some may, especial those promoting IR cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    however, the infrared camera will tell you more than knocking on the wall with your knuckles or even a hammer
    I agree

    My post wasn't a jab at you or anyone else, I just wanted to point out that a reliable inspection method existed (and still exist) before the IR camera age.

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

  21. #21
    Bill Wong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Went to see it again earlier. The crack seems to be on the outside wall only or rather there is two different types of material used at that area where the ceiling of the storage room is right at the crack line.

    There is a small area lifted up around the window and from that vantage point, I can see the wood beams and it looks like the interior wall does not have this crack present.

    Below are the photos I took near the window frame area where the crack line on the outside would be:







    Is there anything that you can see which may be a concern due to the horizontal crack outside?

    Thanks!

    Given how well maintained the house is, I was surprised to see the messiness in this storage room that the owner admits she has not been in for the past 15 years... (even the door to it was jammed shut and took us a while to open it)

    Last edited by Bill Wong; 10-05-2012 at 05:37 PM.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Concerns about horizontal crack/line spanning width of wall

    Duplicate post

    Last edited by Bill Wong; 10-08-2012 at 09:09 AM. Reason: Duplicate post

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