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-   -   What is wrong with this brick wall? (http://www.houserepairtalk.com/f17/what-wrong-brick-wall-13895/)

foundation 04-30-2012 08:50 PM

What is wrong with this brick wall?
 
7 Attachment(s)
Hi Everyone,
I'm new here but any help would be greatly appreciated.
I had 2 different opinions from a home inspector that was physically at the site and a structural engineer that looked at pictures I sent via email.

The house is the first house of an attached house built in the 1970's that sits on a downward sloping hill (the slope is going left/right with the left of the house on higher ground than the right (the attached house is also attached on the left of the house at the higher point of the slope). The house shares a wall and roof with the house next to it however there are no visible issues with the house that is next to the one in question. The house is a 3-story with a basement.

There are vertical cracks on the front and the back of the house and the garage door is pulling away from the wall. The wall perpendicular to the front and rear of the house (the one not attached to the other house) is apparently pulling away from the house (according to the home inspector). The I-beam supporting the 2nd floor is exposed in the garage and the brick / cinder blocks it is resting on shows a very slight buckling, showing signs that the wall is pulling away. The cracks on the back of the house were previously patched when the owners purchased the house ~ 5 years ago, but the cracks on the front were never patched.

Apparently when the current owners bought the property they did hire a licensed engineer to analyze for structural problems when they were buying, and it said that there were uneven floors were within normal tolerance, and only one door that was hard to close. Cracks in brick wall needs to be patched (did not say front or back or both and no pictures) but attested that foundation was fine.

The basement ends where the garage starts so the entire section of the house starting from the garage is sitting on a slab With no basement underneath.
The inspector feels that the wall perpendicular to the front and rear walls ( facing the driveway) is probably not tied to the rest of the house properly and is almost a free standing wall and/or has poor footings or is not deep enough or is pulling away from the house so that is why the brick veneer and masonry walls are cracking.

The structural engineer, based on pictures, says that these cracks are probably due to no expansion joints and incorrectly built wall and it is not an issue with the foundation. He believes expansion joints should be cut into the brick veneer and masonry wall behind the veneer, temporarily caulk the cracks to prevent water damage and to monitor if it stops cracking and if that is the issue, the repoint and fix the cracks later on once it is confirmed. He is unsure about the slight buckling of the masonry wall as he cant come to the site to see

Based on the information and the pictures attached, what is really the root cause and is this fixable or will it just be a major headache?

JoeD 05-01-2012 07:26 AM

My guess is the part of the house with no basement has a poor foundation under it and is moving. Movement is what causes the cracks in the brick. Until you stop the movement the cracks will keep coming back.

foundation 05-01-2012 07:31 AM

Thanks, im assuming whats under the section of the garage is just concrete a concrete slab.
When you say movement are you referring to settlement by stopping movement do you mean adding new footers?
Thanks!

nealtw 05-01-2012 07:47 AM

Before you discount what the engineer says, is there proof of movement like windows out of level, doors that are sticky or have been trimmed are now not square top and bottom. Look at the crack between slab and walls in the garage, any cracks in the foundation.

foundation 05-01-2012 08:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nealtw (Post 72158)
Before you discount what the engineer says, is there proof of movement like windows out of level, doors that are sticky or have been trimmed are now not square top and bottom. Look at the crack between slab and walls in the garage, any cracks in the foundation.

The windows were replaced by the current owners withn the past 5 years. I did notice they were not hard to open or close. However, all the bedroom doors on the 2nd and 3rd floor are hard to open and close and one is actually rubbing against the floor. The owners hired their own licensed engineer in 07when the purchased and in that report, it said only the the 3rd floor bathroom door was sticking and that the floors were uneven but within normal tolerance. where the doors are is actually in the middle of the house, above the left side of the garage door.
When i asked my general contractor (he did the initial look, not the house inspector) he also said that these seemed normal to him but i was still a little skeptical so i got a home inspector and also consulted a structural engineer.
as for the slab in the garage, they had too much things in there but i was able to walk thorugh the middle and did check for cracks but did not see any. on the interior side of the garage (masonry cinderblock walls) there is a harline crack above the garage door. Aside from that crack and the slight buckling of the 2 bricks supporting teh 2nd fl ibeam, i did not see more cracks in the inside of the garage

JoeD 05-01-2012 10:57 AM

The proof of the movement is the cracks and the fact that they have obviously been repaired once and are back.
It could be seasonal because the garage is only on a slab and not a full foundation. Only and onsite inspection by specialist could determine for sure what you have.

mudmixer 05-01-2012 11:21 AM

foundation -

That is a rather large structure that can move and you occupy an end unit that is subjected to more movement.

The masonry was not properly repaired (tuck-pointed) that is usually done periodically in the life of a structure. Mortar was just slopped on the walls without routing out the joints for a proper maintenance.

Is the building a flexible wood frame building or a rigid concrete or masonry structure that would not have the movement to cause cracks? The cracks all seem to start where expected and the height is near the limit to accommodate the shrinkage of the wood frame, while masonry, concrete or steel would not have that much shrinkage or movement.

Dick

foundation 05-01-2012 12:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mudmixer (Post 72166)
foundation -

That is a rather large structure that can move and you occupy an end unit that is subjected to more movement.

The masonry was not properly repaired (tuck-pointed) that is usually done periodically in the life of a structure. Mortar was just slopped on the walls without routing out the joints for a proper maintenance.

Is the building a flexible wood frame building or a rigid concrete or masonry structure that would not have the movement to cause cracks? The cracks all seem to start where expected and the height is near the limit to accommodate the shrinkage of the wood frame, while masonry, concrete or steel would not have that much shrinkage or movement.

Dick

Based on what we could see from the exposed interior walls of the garage. the outer walls are cinder block / with some rows of bricks inbetween, with a brick veneer.
im not sure if i am answering your question but aside from the masonary walls, i has structural steel ibeams running parrallel to the front and rear walls with wood joise runnig perpendicular to the front and rear walls.

also the cracks gets wider as it gets to the top of roof in the rear.

foundation 05-01-2012 12:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeD (Post 72162)
The proof of the movement is the cracks and the fact that they have obviously been repaired once and are back.
It could be seasonal because the garage is only on a slab and not a full foundation. Only and onsite inspection by specialist could determine for sure what you have.

ok thanks im tempted to also go to the town records dept to see if they have any blueprints.

nealtw 05-01-2012 05:01 PM

I have owned a house with a unconnected foundation and footing on the far side of the garage and it did move with the water table. I haven't worked on a lot of brick buildings but I would expect to see a lot more damage. I would expect the crack to start at the left side of the garage opening. When thing move up and down they get wider, wouldn't the cracks open up?


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