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  1. #1
    jason lutz's Avatar
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    Default outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    I just bought a home that has a few cracks in the foundation. The home is a slab home that appears to be set ontop of some kind of large cinder blocks. There was recent work done on the foundation on the end of the home that has these cracks so at first i didn't really look that deep into the problem thinking it was fixed and most of all the other homes i looked at had the same kind of cracks. after we moved in and all the furniture that the old owners had was remove i noticed that the bottom of the exterior walls is seperating from the interior walls. this crack slowly gets smaller as it goes up toward the ceiling and it is totally gone about 1/3 of the way up. i also notice that along the baseboard of the exterior wall thats the carpet was most likely originally butted up against the wall but now there is a gap between the carpet and wallboard. from the outside it does not appear that the wall is bowing out or anything. I did a look around outside and seen that the corner where the cracks are in the foundation, the bricks that the slab sits on are about a half inch lower than the slab itself and the gap gets smaller as you go farther away from that corner until it eventually touches the slab again. is this a seriouse problem? I am a new home owner for the first time and i really dont have a ton of money to have that whole wall replaced. i don't know if that is even necesary. My thought was to shim the gap between the bricks and the slab to take the pressure off the walls a little bit and on the interior spray foam in the gaps between the walls sand it flush and paint it. is this a possible solution or should i call a professional. i have no idea what to do and really need some advice!!!

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    What did your home inspector say about it prior to you purchasing the home?


  3. #3
    jason lutz's Avatar
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    well i know that i will be criticized for this answer but i had a friend that is a contractor look it over to save a few dollars. we noticed the cracks outside but did not notice the problems on the inside as the people had a huge L shaped entertainment center blocking this whole mess. maybe this was not the best idea to not have an inspector look it over but at the time it seemed like a smart money saving oppertunity being we just had our first child every little savings helps. that may not be the case now. more than likely had we known we still would have purchased the home because my wife is in love with it.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    Well I guess it's time to spend the money you were trying to save and hire the right person, who at this point is a structural engineer. Some pics might be nice also as it doesn't seem that you have a full grasp on the situation and while we would love to give our opinions your description is not very clear.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    Jason,

    Many people as yourself have done the same to save a few bucks only to costs them more in the long run. Remember most contractors don't really know much about a home in my opinion, but have a list of vendors that actually do the work. Most contractors I've seen only deal in cost analysis.

    Did the seller provide you any documentation such as a disclosure statement (which in Texas is a law) that stated anything about foundation movement in the past or any repairs.

    If the wife loves the house as you say, looks like your going to be there and be figuring out a way to do the repairs if needed.


  6. #6
    jason lutz's Avatar
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    The sellers did tell me of this problem but i do not have any idea what was done or how long ago it was done....i am however tracking down that information through my agent. I now know that about the contractors...wish i wouldn't have been such a cheap skate in the first place but whats done is done.....i will be posting pics as soon as i can find my camera.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    I have a hard time reading long run on ramblings, so I've broken this into sections which do not ramble on.

    Jason Lutz stated:

    I just bought a home that has a few cracks in the foundation.

    The home is a slab home that appears to be set ontop of some kind of large cinder blocks.

    There was recent work done on the foundation on the end of the home that has these cracks so at first i didn't really look that deep into the problem thinking it was fixed and most of all the other homes i looked at had the same kind of cracks.

    after we moved in and all the furniture that the old owners had was remove i noticed that the bottom of the exterior walls is seperating from the interior walls. this crack slowly gets smaller as it goes up toward the ceiling and it is totally gone about 1/3 of the way up.

    i also notice that along the baseboard of the exterior wall thats the carpet was most likely originally butted up against the wall but now there is a gap between the carpet and wallboard.

    from the outside it does not appear that the wall is bowing out or anything.

    I did a look around outside and seen that the corner where the cracks are in the foundation, the bricks that the slab sits on are about a half inch lower than the slab itself and the gap gets smaller as you go farther away from that corner until it eventually touches the slab again.

    is this a seriouse problem?

    I am a new home owner for the first time and i really dont have a ton of money to have that whole wall replaced. i don't know if that is even necesary.

    My thought was to shim the gap between the bricks and the slab to take the pressure off the walls a little bit and on the interior spray foam in the gaps between the walls sand it flush and paint it.

    is this a possible solution or should i call a professional. i have no idea what to do and really need some advice!!!

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

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    Talking Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    Jason, don't kick yourself to hard if the L-section was covering the gaps on the floor chances are the home inspector would not have noticed the problem anyway.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    Now to address, in sections, what was stated.

    Jason Lutz:

    I just bought a home that has a few cracks in the foundation.

    The home is a slab home that appears to be set ontop of some kind of large cinder blocks.
    That would indicate that the slab is a post tensioned slab.

    There was recent work done on the foundation on the end of the home that has these cracks so at first i didn't really look that deep into the problem thinking it was fixed and most of all the other homes i looked at had the same kind of cracks.
    What kind of work was recently done? That would go a long way into helping try to understand what is going on.

    after we moved in and all the furniture that the old owners had was remove i noticed that the bottom of the exterior walls is seperating from the interior walls. this crack slowly gets smaller as it goes up toward the ceiling and it is totally gone about 1/3 of the way up.
    If the post tension slab was sagging at its center, the slab could kick the interior walls in away from the exterior walls, creating an inverted 'V' crack which was wider at the bottom.

    If the post tension slab was being pushed up near the center, that could being trying to bowed the interior walls upward, resulting in the same inverted 'V' crack which was wider at the bottom.

    i also notice that along the baseboard of the exterior wall thats the carpet was most likely originally butted up against the wall but now there is a gap between the carpet and wallboard.
    First, you stated "along the baseboard", then switched to "between the carpet and wallboard" - so now I am confused. If it was "along the baseboard" but is now separated from the wall, is the slab sagging and separating from the wall, allowing for a gap below the baseboard through which you are now comparing the carpet to the wallboard behind the baseboard, or, are you still referring to the baseboard in both cases?

    from the outside it does not appear that the wall is bowing out or anything.
    Not bowing inward either, right?

    I'm still trying to figure the slab out.

    If slab on ground, then there would not be any bricks under it, in fact, you could not see under it.

    If slab is an elevated slab (post tension or just steel reinforced), then there may be piers below in the space which can be seen, but bricks?

    Ask your contractor friend if they do post tension slabs in that area, he should at least know the answer to that question.

    If the answer is no, then we can rule out post tension slabs and how they are made.

    Leaving the rest for later.

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

  10. #10
    Kevin Barre's Avatar
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    If I understand your description correctly, it sounds to me like your footing is rotating and this is pulling the foundation wall away from the interior of the home at the top. It's not real common around here, but I'd suspect expansive soil. You have probably had some significant changes in soil moisture levels at times, causing the soil to swell and/or shrink. The soil under the outer edge of the footing will be more susceptible to this than the soil under the slab itself since the inner soil is protected more from drying out by the presence of the fill dirt and slab above it. If the soil under the footing along the outside edge dries out more -- which is common, especially if there are a lot of shrubs sucking up moisture -- and it is indeed reactive soil, then that soil would shrink more than the soil under the inner edge of the foundation. This will allow a rotational movement. The ceiling joists and rafters will help tie it together at the top, so the cracking will narrow as the crack nears the ceiling line.

    At this point, your slab is effectively cantilevered for at least a few inches. This explains the gap between the bottom of it and the top of the foundation block.

    Better call an engineer.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    here are the pics.... i am sorry for rambling on but you did a good job cleaning that up. also i talked to the guy that fixed the foundation and he told me that he poured a 4 yard footer under the spot that was settleing that caused the foundation to sink. he also said that he put rebar into the footer up through the b lock so it would not move any more than it has. does that sound likw the proper fix to you guys? he did assure me my wall would not fall out or anything like that, and that i could pay him to patch the cracks but he told me exactly how to do it and said i should be able to do that myself.....jerry i don't really know whar a pier is so i guess it could be those it just looks like bricks to me maybe you can tell fromt he pics.

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    Last edited by jason lutz; 09-16-2008 at 07:03 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    Jason, good start. now take some more pics. Full side shot, full rear shot. Whole house not just small areas.

    Then come in to full corner, ground to soffitt. We need more perspective to see what has happened.

    Why did the footing settle? Downspout drainage?

    Did it cause the plate to shift?

    Did it slip to the rear or to the side?

    Looks like it but need more pics to be sure.

    Is your property on wetlands? Was it built on fill?


  13. #13
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    i will take those pics in the morning it is dark right now. not sure why it settled the man did not say he did say that 3 years ago he fixed the same problem on the back side. i am not in wetlands and not sure if it is on fill dirt or not.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: outer walls pulling away from inner walls

    Jason Lutz stated:
    I did a look around outside and seen that the corner where the cracks are in the foundation, the bricks that the slab sits on are about a half inch lower than the slab itself and the gap gets smaller as you go farther away from that corner until it eventually touches the slab again.

    Jason,

    Please take a photo of that 1/2" space.

    I believe I am now understanding what you were stating.

    The house is probably on an inverted tee footing and stem wall, with a floating slab on compacted fill inside the perimeter stem wall.

    The compacted fill is settling (not properly and fully compacted), or possibly expanding (expansive fill used instead of using good, clean, fill which could be compacted properly.

    It looks like the interior slab is settling down from the exterior wall at visible at the exterior wall base in that photo (presuming it was an exterior wall, although the same would apply to an interior wall - refer to recent thread with posts regarding walls hanging from the ceiling).

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

  15. #15
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    Jason. set up a string from one end of the foundation to the other.
    use a 2x4 block to space out from the foundation. take some pics. of any uneven areas with a tape. Do the same with areas of the walls.

    Check it horizontal and vertical.

    Jason
    You are a bright young man with a good out look on life.

    So you now have some good info to use as life moves along. always buy the best. tools, cars, trucks, lawyers, doctors, ( Home Inspectors.)
    You only cry one time that way. This was something i pick up as a young man. Much the same way you just did.

    Best

    Ron


  16. #16
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: outerwalls pulling away from innerwalls

    Jason Fritz makes a very good point. you can also pull back the carpet and sound the concrete slab floor with a hamer. tap all over the floor.
    If you find any voids you may have a big problem. Large voids can be from a long standing plumbing leak or a lot dranage problem. Q. Is the lot on a hill or flat grade? Is the house above the street ?

    Best

    Ron


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