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USOB 11-17-2008 11:11 PM

House settling?
I have a 1962 brick ranch with full basement. As I was considering its purchase 10+ years ago, I noticed a crack in the living room drywall which ascended up the wall and half way across the ceiling. (A similar crack was later found in the basement wall just below the upstairs one). It had been repaired and no new indications of cracks. When asked, the home inspector I hired said it was no problem, normal settling for a house this old. Fine.

Now over the past 10 years, the crack has reappeared, along with a few in the kitchen and dining room. Small, but there, all the same. Then I noticed along the front side of the house a crack in the masonry extending pretty much the full height of the exterior side. Also over the years, I've heard the house occasionally creaking and the floors are a little noisier, but all door openings still appear square. Also, no apparent sagging or uneven areas of the floor.

So, with that brief description, I'm looking for input as to whether this is a serious problem, or "normal" for a house of this age.

Thanks for any responses.


inspectorD 11-18-2008 05:20 AM

Is this a concrete foundation or a masonary block foundation?
Block will crack easier than solid concrete. A settlement crack or two is common in any home. When you have an issue where the house is settling quickly over a short time of the houses life, it is usually a bigger problem.
Sometimes water under the foundation which was not there before will erode away your soils. Or when the backfill is the old house building materials and finally rot away, you can get settlement.
One other thing is expansive soils and earthquakes. You laugh but they occur when you are not around and finally notice a bunch of cracks in the wall.
Get an engineer who has experience in this area, they are the only ones who can get a good idea of what is happening.
Good luck and let us know what happens.

Kerrylib 11-18-2008 12:51 PM


I'm here in CO also. Do you have Bentonite soil around your home? There are lots of areas along the front range with this expansive clay that really creates havoc with everything from foundations, sidewalks, streets, etc.

My house is 1965 and has had some definate settling. Over the course of 10 years it doesn't sound like major problems. Going through drought a few years ago my inlaws' house showed lots of cracks throughout home in the old plaster. As the moisture level in the ground dropped, the soil shrinks back, shifting the foundation causing telltale cracks. Of course too much moisture is even worse with this soil. It then expands and pushes EVERYTHING out of its way.

Make sure you have good rain gutters and downspouts to divert water away from the foundation. If you have south and west exposure, you might want to put down a vapor barrier for 4-6 ft out from foundation to keep it from being baked dry.

USOB 11-18-2008 07:23 PM

Looks like a concrete foundation. Now that I think of it, the majority of cracks happened during a relatively short period of time, and may speak to the drought we had in CO over a period of several years.

I don't think Bentonite is a major element in my neighborhood, and no closed mines either. But I have been told we have expansive soil.

Good point about the downspouts. I have addressed those in years past, but we've had so little rain I don't think it'd matter anyway. :)

I'll work on getting an engineer to look at it. Thanx much for the help.


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