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Old 08-15-2010, 03:53 PM   #1
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Brick house foundation question.


Hi,

I have a 74 year-old house with a brick foundation. The basement is 7ft tall and nearly 3 feet of that is above ground. When I purchased the home, I noticed a small crack in two of the basement walls. Horizontal, stretching almost the full length of either wall and around 1 foot below ground. I placed a few pieces of tape over the cracks. I then marked, measured and dated my findings. In December, my marks were exactly at 4". I believe the cracks to be caused by the two smaller trees up against the sides of those walls. I killed them using copper, and there has been no growth from either tree since. Neither crack has ever leaked water since I have owned the home.

Today, I noticed that every piece of tape has lifted only over the crack itself. I suspected it may be due to the recent buildup of humidity in my basement because of a damaged condensation line on my HVAC. However, upon inspection, the original marks now measure nearly 1/8" less than before, meaning the cracks are now smaller. It's been very dry here for nearly two months (only a couple, and very short, rains), so I wonder if that may be the culprit. Should I be concerned?

Thanks to anyone with expertise in foundations.

Nick.


Last edited by Nickcc1086; 08-15-2010 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 08-15-2010, 05:25 PM   #2
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Brick house foundation question.


You are trying to measure millimeters with an old wooden yardstick. Tape stretches, slips and is not meant for the purpose. If you are serious, you can buy specifically designed gauges that are attached to the wall with epoxy to measure the small changes of time. Usually, they are observed at scheduled intervals and not daily or seasonally, unless there is an identified active problem.

The cracks may be very old and you are measuring using a short time frame that is that is subjected to monthly, seasonal or annual variations.

Is there a problem other than the appearance of the old wall? - That could provide a better picture. A foundation built in cold weather may have that type of problem and the mortar may have cured and healed over time as temperatures and were better and the conditions improved.

Dick

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Old 08-15-2010, 07:30 PM   #3
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Brick house foundation question.


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You are trying to measure millimeters with an old wooden yardstick. Tape stretches, slips and is not meant for the purpose. If you are serious, you can buy specifically designed gauges that are attached to the wall with epoxy to measure the small changes of time. Usually, they are observed at scheduled intervals and not daily or seasonally, unless there is an identified active problem.

The cracks may be very old and you are measuring using a short time frame that is that is subjected to monthly, seasonal or annual variations.

Is there a problem other than the appearance of the old wall? - That could provide a better picture. A foundation built in cold weather may have that type of problem and the mortar may have cured and healed over time as temperatures and were better and the conditions improved.

Dick
Thanks for the speedy reply.

I marked the edges of the tape onto the wall as part of the "marks" I mentioned. I can tell you the marks I made and I am using for the mearsurement has not moved locations. I am also using a metal ruler with 1/32" increments. To be exact, one gap shrunk 3/32" of an inch, the other exactly 1/8". But I digress, it is definitely not as accurate as a gauge designed for the purpose would be.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, it's only been 8 months. But, that was kinda of what I was asking. Would hot, dry weather really translate into less outside pressure on the wall? It seems it would bow less in the winter with colder temperatures.

As for your last question, one of the previous owners attempted to fill the crack, and the repair is literately falling out. It's more than likely the previous owner was a crock, and did it wrong. It's probably just a blemish. Last July a foundation repair company gave me the "all OK" and I was just tracking the movement out of curiosity.

Finally, to truely answer your last question, the reason why even bothered to ask this was because two of my doors started jamming within the past couple of weeks. They were kinda tight before, but now they are really bad. I also noticed a couple corners in the house cracked on the seam. It's hardly noticeable, but I was looking for it after the doors started jamming. The corners that now need repair are on the same side of one of the foundation walls in question.

EDIT: I re-read what I posted originally and I may have not been clear. The top and bottom of the pieces of tape did not lift from the wall. Only the middle portion of the tape, the part over the crack, lifted.

Last edited by Nickcc1086; 08-15-2010 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:36 PM   #4
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Brick house foundation question.


Where are you located ?
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:58 AM   #5
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Brick house foundation question.


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Where are you located ?
Southern Ohio
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Old 08-16-2010, 09:41 AM   #6
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Brick house foundation question.


A brick foundation is a bit unusual, mostly I have seen brick veneer, but on older houses it is not unheard of to see actual structural brick. Brick is a little unusual for a foundation because it is well known for dimensional changes depending on the moisture content of the brick, which in turn can be affected by the moisture content of the soil touching the brick. Brick will shrink when it dries, and expand when it gets wet, ditto for the mortar used between the bricks.

It is entirely possible that the door issue is caused by the same effect as the brick, i.e. the door swells when moisture content is high, and shrinks when moisture content is low. In practice, doors in Ohio would swell in the summer, especially a humid one, and shrink in the winter. Same for the brick, except that the soil delays the effect.
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:33 PM   #7
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Brick house foundation question.


I've made a stupid mistake. I meant my foundation is cinder block. I should have said that correctly the first time.

However, if this doesn't change your answer very much, I appreciate your everyone's time. Thanks!
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:23 PM   #8
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Brick house foundation question.


Nick, we have clay soil here that expands when it gets wet and shrinks when it dries. It has created a similar horizontal crack in my poured concrete wall. The crack definitely grows slightly when the clay is wet and shrinks when it dries out. You may be getting the same thing.
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Old 08-21-2010, 01:50 AM   #9
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Brick house foundation question.


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Nick, we have clay soil here that expands when it gets wet and shrinks when it dries. It has created a similar horizontal crack in my poured concrete wall. The crack definitely grows slightly when the clay is wet and shrinks when it dries out. You may be getting the same thing.
you are saying the clay soil on the outside is causing the foundation wall to crack??
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Old 08-21-2010, 04:47 AM   #10
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Brick house foundation question.


expansive soils can cause a multitude of problems - 1 of the reasons there's lots of work for soil stabilization folks AND soils pro engineers - highways AND houses,,, we have some areas around atl that're very susceptible to movement,,, not as extensive as texas or colorado, tho

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