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Old 08-25-2012, 09:54 AM   #1
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Cracks after window replacement


Hello all,

Last month I had 5 of my old wooden basement windows replaced by a contractor. New windows are of PVC. Some time ago I noticed vertical cracks in the foundation and some bricks above each window (see the attached pictures).

This house is quite old (70 years) and apparently the contractor did not pay attention that there was is no metal lintels.

What can be done to prevent further crack expansion?

Thank you in advance
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Cracks after window replacement-img_6458.jpg   Cracks after window replacement-dsc01170.jpg  


Last edited by North2; 08-25-2012 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 08-25-2012, 10:36 AM   #2
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Cracks after window replacement


Did your contract include installation of lintels as part of the window replacement? If not, then what exactly is it you believe the contractor was supposed to do about the lack of lintels? It seems possible the cracks were there before the window replacement, maybe you did not notice them, because they are small and perhaps you were not looking for them. There should have been a steel or iron lintel above each window, so the obvious solution to minimize the potential for future cracking is to get the lintels installed, else live with the potential for movement and possible expansion of the existing cracks.

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Old 08-25-2012, 10:40 AM   #3
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Cracks after window replacement


Unless he removed them to get the window in I see no way installing a new window caused this.
There could very well be a rebar reinforced header over that window that's covered up with the stucco.
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Old 08-25-2012, 11:23 AM   #4
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Cracks after window replacement


This has become a common problem in the UK in the last 30 odd years as uPVC windows have been put in and timber ones removed.
The old timber windows would take the weight of the external brickwork without a lintel, but the plastic ones won't and the brickwork drops, often jamming up the casements or doors, or cracking the glass.
Nowadays when windows are replaced the work comes under Building Control and lintels must be intalled by the builder.
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Old 08-25-2012, 07:05 PM   #5
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Cracks after window replacement


Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
Did your contract include installation of lintels as part of the window replacement?
No, this was not included because until yesterday I had no idea what lintel is and if they are missing. Basically, I hired him to change windows. He gave me the price.

Shouldn't this be a responsibility of the contractor to identify problems like this and to advise the customer appropriately?

The old wooden frame was very thick and solid. I remember they had very hard time to remove it. May it be that it played a role of support istead of a lintel?

Here is a picture that I took at the installation time. I do not see any metal parts above the window.
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Old 08-25-2012, 07:09 PM   #6
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Cracks after window replacement


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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Unless he removed them to get the window in I see no way installing a new window caused this.
There could very well be a rebar reinforced header over that window that's covered up with the stucco.

What is strange is that I had 5 windows replaced and now every of them has a crack like this.

I am 99% sure there was no cracks before as I visually inspected the foundation a couple of times per year.

Last edited by North2; 08-25-2012 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 08-26-2012, 04:32 AM   #7
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Cracks after window replacement


[quote=North2;996349]
Shouldn't this be a responsibility of the contractor to identify problems like this and to advise the customer appropriately?
It is here, as this is a common problem.



The old wooden frame was very thick and solid. I remember they had very hard time to remove it. May it be that it played a role of support istead of a lintel?
Timber windows can support loads that plastic can't.

quote]
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:13 AM   #8
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Cracks after window replacement


Looks to me that you have a stucco type finish. Would have nothing to do with the windows being replaced, you just noticed the surface cracks now, due to the replacing of the windows. Most likely those cracks have been there for some time, appear to not be enlarging any, so I would just seal with clear silicone and just check yearly to see if the surface material becomes loose, or the crack enlarges.

Old homes, especially the age of yours can take a long time to finish settling, and that crack for all we know, could have happened twenty years ago, and you just noticed it, due to the window replacement.
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Old 08-26-2012, 09:29 AM   #9
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Cracks after window replacement


There's most likely a precast concrete lintel over the windows, as there's no way I can see that old wood window frame carrying all of the weight above. From what i can see, the windows are one course below the top of foundation, which would allow plenty of room for the precast lintel.
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Old 08-26-2012, 09:52 AM   #10
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Cracks after window replacement


Provide a photo of the outside but stand further back to get more of a view above the window.

Lintels can be replaced and added. Gonna cost though.

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Old 08-26-2012, 06:20 PM   #11
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Cracks after window replacement


Looks like a poured concrete wall foundation. No need for a lintel in this situation. While it is unlikely the window change has caused the crack, the crack does not appear to be more than cosmetic.

The old saying about two types of concrete comes to mind. If it really bothers you, you can grind out the crack and fill with your choice of caulk/mortar, but the repair will be as obvious as the crack and no more structually sound.

I don't think you can blame the window guy for the cracks as neither the old window or the new one was supporting significant weight.
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Old 08-26-2012, 07:06 PM   #12
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Cracks after window replacement


dakzaag, what you and the others are seeing, is nothing more than a Stucco coating or Parging, not the actual brick that is under it. If you look at the top picture, you can tell that there are spider cracks all over the finish. Doubt that the actual wall has been compromised, and as I stated before, this can happen over a period of time.

All the OP can do, is make sure that the coating is sound, and if it isn't, either remove that facial treatment and have a contractor that knows how to apply a new finish coating if they wish.

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Last edited by gregzoll; 08-27-2012 at 12:25 PM.
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