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Thread: Corner Cracks

  1. #1
    Linda Swearingen's Avatar
    Linda Swearingen Guest

    Default Corner Cracks

    My client's condo rear corners at the party walls have cracked this winter, and have the appearance of wallpaper on a corner where one wall has dropped with respect to the other. However, there is no displacement visible in the crawl space. There is a vertical crack going through the blocks in the block wall at about the middle of the party wall, which suggests impact. Is this likely the result of an earthquake? We just had an ice storm, but I am told that no trees actually fell on this structure. There would have been considerable wind, but there should not have been the direct shocks of tree branch impact. Any ideas?

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default Re: Corner Cracks

    A lot depends on the age of the building. If it's new, it well may be just the framing drying out and moving a bit. Basically, expansion/contraction cycles.

    If it's not new, the answer is likely a bit more complex. From what you describe with cracking in the block wall I'd be suspicous of some type of support problem. So, you're on the right track with checking the crawl space. I'd be looking for posts not bearing weight where maybe the blocks beneath them have settled.

    I'm sure some others will chime in... do you have any pictures?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Plano, Texas

    Default Re: Corner Cracks

    Linda, what part of the country are you in?
    That sounds like typical (not acceptable, just typical) settlement in this area.
    Do you have expansive soils?

    Jim Luttrall
    Plano, Texas

  4. #4
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Corner Cracks

    A little bit of settling going on. Do you know for a fact that it suddenly appeared or were you just there doing a home inspection. As far as in the crawl the piers may have stayed still and the exterior settled or if there is moisure in the crawl the piers may have lifted from the soil swelling. The party wall may have settled. Obviously not being there, who knows

    Anyway, the tape rinkled in the corner is what you really do not want to see. Same thing with a simple drywall seem crack over a window or door compared to an angle crack over a window or door. Much different in the settlement as far as severity. Anyways it would be advisable to recommend further review by a foundation company or engineer. A foundation company will take some measurements throughout the home and see whats up and what has settled and recommend repair if needed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Georgetown, KY

    Default Re: Corner Cracks

    Hey Linda,

    Good to see you back on here. Do you have your power back on yet?

    Which wall appears to have moved, the party wall or the exterior wall? Which one has the high side of the tape?

    With the ice storm and unusually low temperatures, I'd first suspect frost heave.

    I'd think if a tree smacked it hard enough to move it, you'd see evidence of it on the nearby trees (f there are any still standing).

    Remember we had that 5.4 earthquake over in Indiana last year.

    You might want to fill out your profile so everyone knows you're in Western Kentucky (wiped out by the ice storm)

    For those of you who don't know her, Linda is a long time ASHI member and sacrifices her time to serve on the Kentucky Board of Home Inspectors. (Nine hours of driving time for every monthly meeting).

    Thanks Linda.

    The ice storm wasn't quite so bad in my area. I was only out of power for a few hours.


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    Last edited by Erby Crofutt; 02-19-2009 at 08:41 PM.
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  6. #6
    Linda Swearingen's Avatar
    Linda Swearingen Guest

    Default Re: Corner Cracks

    Dear Erby,
    (Thank you for being concerned; I was VERY fortunate--we were only out for about 2 1/2 days. And my cell phone is on Verizon, so we still had phone service when ATT was out, both cell and land lines) What is weird is that the blocks in the crawl space have no visible shifting between these walls. It was not a home inspection--the owner had called me about an unrelated issue in her personal home. She also owns this 16-year-old condo--it has party walls on both sides. The corner in question is the back corner of one party wall and the exterior wall. She was concerned that she had somehow caused this crack because of the heat being off in this unit during cold weather when both adjacent units were occupied, but I don't see how that would cause this. And there was plaster dust and paint chips on the carpet, where the place had been cleaned and vacuumed when the renter moved out, which suggests actual cracking occurred pretty recently.
    Your comment about the earthquake is probably the one with the most potential; something could have been weakened which only failed with the swings in temperature. It probably wouldn't hurt for the structural guys to analyze it, especially since there is some sagging in another area where there should have been a doubled truss joist under a two-story wall. That needs some attention anyway.
    Thank you for your suggestions!!


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