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yellowdog 10-26-2007 01:18 PM

foundation repair-help!
I'm new to the site. Hoping to get some much needed advice. Recently noticed the bricks on my 1929 home had cracked in the mortar joint and separated. This happened during a recent dry spell we have had. The bricks had separated before but had been caulked privious to my buying the home. The crack is diagonal going from the ground up to the corner of a window and then proceeds fromthe top of the same window in the opposite direction. This is on the front corner of my house. There are two other places that have a similar problem on the house. had a foundation contractor come out and said I needed to jack up the foundation to the tune of $13,000. had another guy come and told me that the foundation was OK and that the bricks had just pulled away from the house. He reccommended removing the old caulk and replacing with very high strength adhesive to stop the bricks from moving. The first guy was very slick with a laptop, etc and the second guy was more of a one man show. I have no idea which way to go. Anybody had this problem and solution????

Material Tester 10-26-2007 08:48 PM

Pictures of the problem would help greatly.

The crack you descibed is a normal expansion crack in brick construction. The crack is going to happen from the expansion and contraction of the wall from thermal changes. It normally happens at the window as the window is the weakest point in the wall. What area of the country are you in? Different temperature ranges also make a large difference.

As far as in depth repair of the foundation what was recommended? Do any of the cracks show difference in elevation from one side to the other? Do they continue into the foundation? This would be a clear sign that the issue is from foundation settlement. Also as far as normal maintenance it is normal to have to repoint homes to maintain the brick and mortar as expansion and contraction and small changes in the building weather the mortar.

yellowdog 10-29-2007 06:57 AM

Thanks for the reply. I live in Greensboro, North Carolina. The first contractor suggested putting in 12 piers that are drilled to the bedrock and they support the foundation. The second suggested caulking the cracks with very strong adhesive. The cracks are all lateral, not horizontal. The lateral movement is about an inch at the worst point. I'll have to check the crack fron the bottom of the window to see if it goes all the way to the foundation. It is on the driveway side of my house. I think it goes all the way to the driveway(driveway butts up against the house). This is on the side of the house. I'll see if I can get some pictures posted.
Thanks again for the reply.

Ron6519 10-29-2007 08:57 AM

"The first contractor suggested putting in 12 piers that are drilled to the bedrock and they support the foundation. The second suggested caulking the cracks with very strong adhesive. "
Now there's a wide range of solutions. Get a knowledgeable person in there for the correct appraisal of the problem and solution. Someone like an engineer.

yellowdog 10-29-2007 10:08 AM

Had a soil engineer come out this am and he took soil samples to test. His initial thoughts were:
-the house probably had not settled since it would have done so years ago.
-if the soil comes back clay heavy, it is probably due to the soil contracting during the drought we had had recently.
Will get the results later this week. Cost for test $400-500.

Tscarborough 10-29-2007 11:05 AM

No matter what the cause and final solution, the second contractor is clueless.

Material Tester 10-29-2007 03:01 PM

Yellow dog,

The piers that the first contractor suggested...are they a Helical pier sytem? If they are, they are usually installed by licensed renovation contractors and they normally provide all the engineering and installation. In other words they are the only ones that you will ever talk to and they may just be trying to sell you a pretty expensive system that you may not need because they could offer no other solution and of course it makes them the most money.:thumbup: Once the helical piers are installed do they intend to lift the house to "repair" the cracks? Also what is the reasoning that they gave you for the piers? How deep is the bedrock in your area?

Secondly the soils engineer that you had come out did they hand auger or machine remove the sample from the same depth as the footing supporting your building? The contracting issue that the soil engineer is speaking of is dessication or drying of the clay. A one year drought is typically not sufficient time to remove enough moisture from the clay to make a large difference altjough small movements are sometimes evidenced. I hope that you engineer is testing for moisture content along with composition. Post the results when they arrive.

Again....Pictures of the situation would help greatly and would allow me to give you a reasonable idea of the problem.

Regardless of what the problem is the best thing to do is to get the area looked at by a mason so that you can get an idea of the cost for repointing the area. The mason may be able to give you some insight into the condition of your mortar and the general condition of your wall and you may suprised to find out that the mortar just needs to be repaired.

IMHO the use of remedial piers in a residential situation is kept for the really bad cases, due to cost. I am not saying that they are not a great way to repair a house but they should be used when necessary and it sounds like maybe what you have is some settlement that has gotten worse and could most likely be cured by repointing and maybe resetting some brick depending upon how bad it is. I am not trying to talk you out of the piers, especially if they are necessary, but just hoping to allow options that you can explore if you want.

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