Spalling cement brick wall... repairable?

Discussion in 'Bricks, Masonry and Concrete' started by vitus, Nov 27, 2019.

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  1. Nov 27, 2019 #1

    vitus

    vitus

    vitus

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    There is spalling on this house that was built in the mid 50s. The cracks are on both sides of the wall so I guess the bricks are split in half. The biggest cracks are the vertical ones, they are about 4'-5' tall. There are some horizontal ones high on the wall that are only about 2' long.

    Below are some not very good photos to see what it looks like.

    How would one go about fixing something like this? Are the walls safe until it is fixed? This house is in Hawaii so there are no freezing temps to worry about.

    Thanks

    -v 29287006-5dcb-4405-91e6-a7f2c82d55e0.jpg b8585450-3446-4549-b561-0a822158acff.jpg 72dd92a7-e555-43f8-aa98-feb8ef73b8de.jpg e280b364-44ff-4f9c-96b5-562d8aa200ca.jpg 0e4492ef-381b-4a28-8c2d-30de7d07c0e0.jpg
     
  2. Nov 28, 2019 #2

    vitus

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    I forgot to mention. I thought this was a settling issue at first until someone pointed out it is spalling because the foundation and sidewalks do not have cracks it in.
     
  3. Nov 28, 2019 #3

    oldognewtrick

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    spalling-brick-virginia-min-300x225.jpg

    I'm not seeing spelling on your wall, the above is an example of brick spelling.
     
  4. Nov 28, 2019 #4

    bud16415

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    Those are defiantly cracks and not spalling. Spalling would occur as a defect in just the brick most common part or all of the face pealing off. What you have are continuous cracks running from brick to brick and the fact that you see the same crack on the inside as outside tells me the wall is a single brick thick and structural.


    How thick are your walls? What are the bricks made from? Scrapping off the paint and taking a picture should tell us. Is this just a single story home? And these brick wall carry the weight of the roof? A photo from out in the yard of the house would be helpful as well. Did the cracks just happen or was it like this for many years?


    This is not normal construction on the mainland.


    I would be concerned about it as some of the cracks end in the corner of windows and that means that big chunk is just hanging there. My advice would be to get a structural eng. to look at it and give their advice. I would find someone independent of a contractor and knowledgeable of this type construction in your area. Report back when you get the report and we can help walk you thru the options.
     
  5. Nov 28, 2019 #5

    vitus

    vitus

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    I think they are about 4" thick. I am assuming they are whatever CMU was back in 1955 when it was built. I do know its not red brick. It is a single-story home. It is a perimeter wall which carries the weight of the roof. I believe the cracks have been there for many years but I'm not sure how long exactly.

    This is not normal construction here either. In 1955 it was a custom home. Most things back then were single wall, redwood tongue and groove.

    I'll update it when I can get some more information and better photos.

    We called a structural engineer but he seemed like he thought he had it figured out over the phone and just told us it was spalling. He didn't look at any photos and he didn't seem very helpful so I have some other calls/emails I'm waiting for responses on.

    Thanks for the replies...

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    -v
     
  6. Nov 30, 2019 #6

    bud16415

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    Normally a load wall made from block would be much thicker 8”-12” thick depending on height and made from block that is cored out. Around here there were brick houses and lots of commercial buildings built in the 1950s and back from brick but never a single layer. Most had an inner and outer layer of hard brick and then the center space filled with a soft brick. When we see a single layer it is normally a cosmetic outer layer with frame construction behind it, or in some cases I have seen steel construction where the openings are then filled with brick similar to what you have to close in sections.


    The fact that you say you have stable footings without sinking or cracking etc. makes me think you had upper movement to the roof area maybe with high winds or something in a direction perpendicular to the face of the wall. The weak points like window openings propagated the cracks then. This could have happened many years ago and everything is still intact. They may have put reinforcement steel in when they made the wall as well and that’s holding it together. The problem is you just don’t know until you start working taking some of it apart.


    I would seek out another structural eng. to take a look at it and I don’t have any idea how someone could say one way or another over the phone.


    As to repairing it I would want to understand it first, but depending on how far the footing goes in each direction maybe a sister wall could be built just inside or outside the brick wall. Something like that.
     
  7. Dec 1, 2019 #7

    Jeff Handy

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    You can measure the actual wall thickness at any window or doorway.
    Four inch single brick thick is very unlikely.
    But maybe true if built by Joe Blow without permits or inspection.

    Meanwhile, Hawaii is very active geologically, cracks could be from earthquakes or smaller tremors.
    Or even hurricane wind load as bud mentioned above.

    Maybe epoxy injection could stabilize the cracks?

    Or the entire outer or inner surfaces could be coated with a parge coat system that includes a wire or synthetic reinforcing matrix.
     
  8. Dec 1, 2019 #8

    Diehard

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    First and foremost, try to find a structural engineer familiar with cracking walls constructed of some type of oversized brick or odd sized concrete blocks.
     
  9. Dec 1, 2019 #9

    vitus

    vitus

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    Thanks for all the help guys. I really appreciate it.

    I have been working on getting a guy out on-site to take a look at it but it's been hard with the holiday weekend. Also, thanks for saving my sanity. I was pretty sure it wasn't spalling but when a guy who's supposed to know what he's talking about told me it was spalling I started to doubt myself. I feel I gave him a detailed enough description that should have ruled out spalling.


    I'll have to go take a measurement to be sure on the thickness. I just gave a wag on the thickness because it is only as thick as the window sills and doorways and they're not much thicker than what's on stick houses around here.


    I am hoping they are stable. I wasn't able to find cracks that would show sinking or cracking but I haven't completely ruled it out. There is a cement walkway along that wall with the cracks. It connects to a cement driveway that runs along and is connected to the side of the house. I found no cracks in those areas but maybe there are some in a place I cant see?


    I'm hoping to get better help next week being that the holiday weekend will be over and we'll be on a normal workweek.

    LOL.. true and that kind of stuff is not that uncommon around here. However, I have seen the old permits for the house so I know it was permitted way back when.

    Well, we haven't had a shortage of hurricanes here since 1955. There have been a couple of significant ones just from when I've been here.
     
  10. Dec 9, 2019 at 10:49 PM #10

    vitus

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    Here is a quick follow up. I measured the bricks and they are 8" bricks.

    I had a mason come out and take a look at the damage. He was pretty good with his explanation of the damage and the different types of cracks and their causes. He explained why he ruled out different causes. He determined that moisture got to the rebar in the brick. The rebar swelled as it rusted causing the cement to rupture.
     

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