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Old 07-10-2012, 10:15 AM   #1
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Mortar Cracks - foundation issues?


Hi there,

Our house is about 18 years old, and we bought it 6 years ago. We had our home inspected before buying, and everything passed. Shortly after buying, we noticed some cracks under a couple of windows, and a small crack on the concrete base. Thing is, we can't recall if these cracks were there during the home inspection, or if they've been there for the past 4 or 5 years.

We filled the cracks in a few years ago, as they run in a stair step fashion within the mortar only - none of the bricks themselves are cracked, and we've never had any water problems. We didn't really think too much of it until we saw the smaller crack about the basement window as well:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38464161@N02/7542493692

And this window is at the back of the house:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38464161@N02/7542496118

Is this a problem, or is it just the way that the house has settled since there are no cracked bricks?

Thanks for any responses, they will be greatly appreciated.


Last edited by paulo1975; 07-10-2012 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 07-10-2012, 04:26 PM   #2
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Mortar Cracks - foundation issues?


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Originally Posted by paulo1975 View Post
Hi there,

Our house is about 18 years old, and we bought it 6 years ago. We had our home inspected before buying, and everything passed. Shortly after buying, we noticed some cracks under a couple of windows, and a small crack on the concrete base. Thing is, we can't recall if these cracks were there during the home inspection, or if they've been there for the past 4 or 5 years.

We filled the cracks in a few years ago, as they run in a stair step fashion within the mortar only - none of the bricks themselves are cracked, and we've never had any water problems. We didn't really think too much of it until we saw the smaller crack about the basement window as well:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38464161@N02/7542493692

And this window is at the back of the house:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38464161@N02/7542496118

Is this a problem, or is it just the way that the house has settled since there are no cracked bricks?

Thanks for any responses, they will be greatly appreciated.

Probably settling issues,i see the foundation cracked in the first pic just below the window,be a good idea to dig out the mortar wherever it's cracked and repoint,ice will form in winter and just make things worse.

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Old 07-10-2012, 05:13 PM   #3
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Mortar Cracks - foundation issues?


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Probably settling issues,i see the foundation cracked in the first pic just below the window,be a good idea to dig out the mortar wherever it's cracked and repoint,ice will form in winter and just make things worse.
Thank for replying. We already filled that mortar in once a few years ago and things seem to be holding, although the crack on the concrete is new. Since nothing seems to have shifted in that time, do you think we have to worry about foundation problems?
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:41 PM   #4
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Mortar Cracks - foundation issues?


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Probably settling issues
This is one of those topics on which you will get differing opinions. Personally, I think it could suggest only shrinkage rather than actual settlement. What suggests this to me is that the crack is even in width top-to-bottom; settlement cracks tend to be wider at one end than the other.
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Old 07-10-2012, 06:30 PM   #5
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Mortar Cracks - foundation issues?


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Originally Posted by tony.g View Post
This is one of those topics on which you will get differing opinions. Personally, I think it could suggest only shrinkage rather than actual settlement. What suggests this to me is that the crack is even in width top-to-bottom; settlement cracks tend to be wider at one end than the other.

Shrinkage after 18 years,i doubt that very much,the foundation crack is definitely settelment.
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Old 07-10-2012, 06:39 PM   #6
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Mortar Cracks - foundation issues?


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Shrinkage after 18 years,i doubt that very much,the foundation crack is definitely settelment.
So since nothing has shifted since we replaced the mortar, should we worry about any foundation issues?
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:00 PM   #7
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Mortar Cracks - foundation issues?


I see no direct evidence of foundation settlement. Cracked mortar is not necessarily due to foundation settlement, there are other possible causes. However, foundation settlement can be determined by hiring a competent surveyor to take measurements around your foundation and determine if any settlement has occurred. You can do this yourself if you have a decent survey instrument, or a laser level with a good tripod.

I have inspected several dozen houses with cracked brick, and there are many reasons for mortar cracking, some of which include moisture penetration, differential heating of the brick, foundation settlement, impact, mortar deterioration due to improper selection or application of the mortar, brick movement due to improper use of brick ties, deterioration of brick ties, and several less common factors. You may want to hire a local mason to investigate the problem and offer an opinion.

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