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  1. #1
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    Default Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Hi all,

    My name is Nick, I do not have extensive knowledge on this subject, so please forgive me if I sound like an idiot.

    My house was built in 1971 and I purchased it 5 years ago. At that time, my home inspector pointed out the crack to me. He told me he was confident that the crack was from settling and nothing I should worry about, but to watch it. I have watched it and it has not changed.

    Fast forward 5 years and I am selling the house and the buyer's inspector is suggesting a structural engineer. In five years there has never been any cracks in the walls, doors and windows do not stick, and there are no other cracks in the brick.

    I wasn't really worried about it until I started googling and every website made me think a crack in the brick meant doom and gloom. I also noticed some cracks in the garage floor (the outside crack is on the outside garage wall) and I thought they might be related.

    I looked at my neighbor's house and noticed that he had a couple stair step cracks in his brick. From what I am reading, every house has or is going to have some settling similar to my house and will not need any repair, or i am in for a repair costing thousands of dollars.

    What do you all think?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Impossible to definitively say without looking at the entire house.....BUT in general, I'm with the home inspector. I see these type cracks regularly. I inspect in an area with very active soils. Stresses build and stresses get relieved. Cracks happen. While we prefer stair stepped cracks over the kind you have, if there hasn't been any change in that crack since you've lived there, our concerns are even less. We don't like constant settling or movement, but occasional movement is rarely a concern.

    Some home inspectors do CYA when they see something like that and call for further evaluation by an appropriate expert.

    My guess based on your photos and past report from your inspector; an engineer will acknowledge settling, recommend monitoring and nothing more.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Thank you for the reassurance. I have watched a couple videos, and I have learned from those that Oklahoma also has very active soils and cracks are common.

    I think the crack has been there for decades, but obviously I can't prove that. I actually lost my copy of my inspection from 5 years ago due to a computer crash (I will search all my disks and pray I backed it up). I have read that engineers should be able to do a pretty good job of approximating the age of cracks. Obviously it would be better if I could prove it has been there at least 5 years.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    That's a reason that I include cracks like that in the report, with a photo. It's so that later on, if the house is being sold, the crack can be identified and verified that yes, it is the same as before or no, it has changed and is an issue to deal with.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    There are crack monitors available which will indicate if the crack is active.
    Crack Monitor Gauge Kit - Avongard Structural Monitor

    In my view it would be advisable to have the crack repaired to prevent wind driven rain from entering. This could be as simple as having the crack filled with polyurethane type caulk to having the bricks removed and re-mortared, but I would not entertain that until I knew the crack is stable.


  6. #6

    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Brick "siding is not structural it is siding. Having stated that i also agree that cracks in masonry is almost normal and should be expected as long as the cracks are not active and/or have displacement.
    This is a very short answer but any more will require a dissertation.

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Thank you for replying. I was able to get a copy of my home inspection, and the inspector does document his recommendation to monitor the crack, but unfortunately did not get a good picture of it.

    At least I have proof it is not a new crack.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    While it is not uncommon to have cracking in masonry which follows the mortar lines and joints, cracking through the masonry units themselves, such as cracking through all those bricks, is not common and is indicative of a problem.

    The problem may be expansive soils, but just because an area is know to have expansive soils does not make cracking like that in the photos acceptable, all it does is indicate that the contractor did not do what was needed to accommodate for the known soil conditions.

    Shear cracks like that through all those bricks? I'd first want someone to dig down to find out what the brick veneer is setting on ... the brick ledge of brick foundation may not be adequate, may not be attached to the house, may ... ???

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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    The crack looks significant - more than a 1/4" and is no hairline crack in my view.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    I have measured the crack and there is no crack that is part of the actual brick greater than 1/8 of an inch. There are cracks in the mortar that are larger than 1/4 of an inch.

    Does that make a difference?


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Water entry and insect entry.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    It is difficult to know what is going on without more details. Close-up photos are good, but they do not tell the whole story. Masonry or frame construction? Age of house? Regardless, from what I see in the photos, as a structural engineer, I doubt that I would have much concern with that crack.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Mark

    You don't have any concerns about water entry and concealed damage as a result?


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Thank you all for the free knowledge. I appreciate you all taking the time to look at the pictures. I am a CPA, so this isn't my field of expertise.

    Raymond, i never thouht about potential water. I have been most concerned about structural issues. I do think the probability of enough water being blown in to cause a problem, is probably small. However, after a decade or so, I see how it could have an impact.

    Knowing what I know now, I would have had a structural engineer come out just for peace of mind. I was 24 and this was my first house. Live and learn, unfortunately the lesson can be expensive, hopefully not in this case.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Nick

    The chance of water entry depends on which side of the house the crack is on due to prevailing weather conditions.

    Water could enter in the lower areas of the wall where the crack is not protected from the overhang of the roof.

    You did not mention if there are any weep holes at the base of the brick which would allow water to exit should be be driven into the crack.

    Concealed damage could consist of rotting wood and mould and an attractant for wood destroying insects such as Carpenter Ants or Termites.

    1763 copy.jpg


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Mark

    You don't have any concerns about water entry and concealed damage as a result?
    Sure, water entry is possible. In an older home the WRB would probably handle any water entry, but I would suggest sealing the crack. In a newer home I would be more concerned about damage if the wall sheathing was OSB and because or poor workmanship.

    My initial response was regarding the crack being a structural concern.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    I have never seen a structural engineer check out anything. They send an office worker with a ZipLevel. You may want to check out Richard Rash: Foundation Repair Consultant.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Adame View Post
    I have never seen a structural engineer check out anything. They send an office worker with a ZipLevel. You may want to check out Richard Rash: Foundation Repair Consultant.
    The engineers, I know, show up themselves and crawl in the dirt right beside me.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick parson View Post
    Thank you for the reassurance. I have watched a couple videos, and I have learned from those that Oklahoma also has very active soils and cracks are common.

    I think the crack has been there for decades, but obviously I can't prove that. I actually lost my copy of my inspection from 5 years ago due to a computer crash (I will search all my disks and pray I backed it up). I have read that engineers should be able to do a pretty good job of approximating the age of cracks. Obviously it would be better if I could prove it has been there at least 5 years.

    Try contacting your home inspector. He may still have a copy of your home inspection and should have no problem re sending it to you. I keep mine for at least seven years in case of anything like your situation.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Nick,

    I never saw a mention of what type of foundation you have. Around here, 1971 may have a crawl space. If so, you could see what was going on. Most likely brick veneer, not structure. I agree with Jerry, that the cracks "through" the bricks may indicate something more than just settlement, but if no other damage is indicated on the interior, I would recommend filling the cracks and monitoring for further movement.

    Tim Kerce
    Preferred Real Estate Inspections, LLC
    preferredinspections@cox.net
    405-514-8583


  21. #21
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    re there any control joints down that side of the home. How long is that side. What was the engineers recomended spacing of control joints

    All that adds up to, did they do it right from the start. Even stable? soils you can still have a bit of moving around. With control joints there should absolutely be no cracking if it is done right.

    There is a vast amount of knowledge needed to determine what and why.

    There is no such thing as "normal" cracking. Normal should be removed from the library of home inspectors. There is always a reason for the cracking. Not, just "active" soils.

    By the way. Stop looking at your neighbors home. It has nothing to do with your home. If his home had everything done right since day one then he would not have any cracking.

    An 1/8th of an inch is a good crack. The front of the garage could be down considerably with an 1/8th inch crack in the brick

    I just inspected a home north of Dallas. The right front corner of the home was down 3.5 inches from the zero point in the home. They raised it three inches. There are 3 tiny almost insignificant cracks over three windows on that side of the home. They were there befiore and after the lift.

    3 1/2 inches in 20 feet is huge. By the way, no doors out of square, now windows sticking, no cracks in the drywall et etc et


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    It appears that the top of the crack is wider than the bottom which suggests a pivot point at the foundation (I am assuming the the left side of the photos is up). Are there similar cracks in the sheetrock inside the building? This seems to suggest some foundation movement, but there is not enough information given to in those 3 pictures to tell for sure.

    Incidently, stair-stepped cracks in masonry or brick construction indicate poor mortar and/or inadequate reinforcement. Masonry or brick walls, if constructed correctly, should become a homogenious unit like a concrete wall. The mortar should bond to the masonry, and any cracks that might occur should go through the blocks regardless of joint location, and not stair-step.

    Thom Huggett, PE, SE, CBO

  23. #23
    Glynn Penn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    OK guys, I am an inspector in Texas for 40 years with over 17K inspections and if an inspector in Texas has been in business for 6 months he has seen loads of this type of cracks in brick walls.
    Some builders put expansion joints in wall, hoping the wall will move at the expansion joint.
    Probably 75% of brick veneer homes 20 to 30 years old have cracks in walls in Texas. Rebar foundations have more cracks but cracks are smaller while post tension foundations have fewer
    cracks but they are larger. Check approximately 2 o 2 1/2 ft on either side of wall crack for small
    foundation cracks. The crack in the garage floor may be shrinkage cracks resulting from lack of watering to reduce heat during days after concrete pour (floors under carpet probably also have
    cracks). Often times watering yard next to foundation will cause cracks to get smaller. Best of luck.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Huggett View Post
    It appears that the top of the crack is wider than the bottom which suggests a pivot point at the foundation (I am assuming the the left side of the photos is up). Are there similar cracks in the sheetrock inside the building? This seems to suggest some foundation movement, but there is not enough information given to in those 3 pictures to tell for sure.

    Incidently, stair-stepped cracks in masonry or brick construction indicate poor mortar and/or inadequate reinforcement. Masonry or brick walls, if constructed correctly, should become a homogenious unit like a concrete wall. The mortar should bond to the masonry, and any cracks that might occur should go through the blocks regardless of joint location, and not stair-step.
    Building construction varies quite a bit by region. Around here vertical cracks in block and concrete foundation walls are very common. Always wider at top than bottom, and not due to settlement. Shrinkage is the typical cause. Settlement cracks in block often stair step-mortar is almost never as strong as the block.


  25. #25
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I worry about these cracks in the brick veneer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Glynn Penn View Post
    OK guys, I am an inspector in Texas for 40 years with over 17K inspections and if an inspector in Texas has been in business for 6 months he has seen loads of this type of cracks in brick walls.
    Some builders put expansion joints in wall, hoping the wall will move at the expansion joint.
    Probably 75% of brick veneer homes 20 to 30 years old have cracks in walls in Texas. Rebar foundations have more cracks but cracks are smaller while post tension foundations have fewer
    cracks but they are larger. Check approximately 2 o 2 1/2 ft on either side of wall crack for small
    foundation cracks. The crack in the garage floor may be shrinkage cracks resulting from lack of watering to reduce heat during days after concrete pour (floors under carpet probably also have
    cracks). Often times watering yard next to foundation will cause cracks to get smaller. Best of luck.
    Good info. But IU am amazed that the amount of inspectors out there use the term normal. Noramal as in what. Everyone either screws up and does not engineering. Normal as in no one adds gutters onn their homes and it takes toll after a while. Normal as in no one maintains there home to the point of not getting cracks over time.

    Or normal as in all the way from the engineering to the maintenance is totally inadequate. The vast majority of the things I see is a grading and drainage situation. That does not make it normal. It needs correcting. No gutters, washout, dogs digging a trench around the rear end of the home etc etc, home moves around due to this. It needs correcting.

    There is always a reason and always a correction and a maintenance program that will keep it from happening again.

    Of course 40 years inspecting in Texas or any state one would already know this so I am not telling you anything you don't already know.

    Normal. Don't cut it. Cause and affect and correction is what the client has to be taught. Not normal.

    As far as watering the foundation with a soaker hose. I tell everyone that it is not the way to go. Install sprinklers around the perimeter that adds the same moisture level around the entire perimeter that can be watered. To wet, bad. Too dry, bad. Soaker hose don't soak. They suck.

    I have seen inspectors eat their inspection using the word normal only for a short time later the folks do get a foundation company and find out just how messed up there foundation is.

    The example in my last post is a very prime example on why no inspector should use the word normal. Due to floor covering, furniture etc that homes foundation lisp of 3 1/2 inches could have been missed. I am sure someone missed it in the past. It did not happen over night. They actually put piers based on the extreme measurement all across the front and several half way up each side with varying amounts of lift and the house just did not show it that much due to the lay out. furniture placement and floor covering.


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