15 year old brick house, cracks in exterior, foundation problem??


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Old 05-16-07, 06:53 PM
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15 year old brick house, cracks in exterior, foundation problem??

My wife and I purchased a house in Albuquerque nearly a year ago. It is a brick two story home that is 15 years old and has been reasonably maintained by the prior owner. We had windows installed and noticed a few bricks that were loose between the lower edge of the window (half circle) and the door beneath it. We called someone we know who does masonry, and he looked at it. He decided to walk around the house and saw cracks between the bricks through the mortar in a few places. He said that this could be a sign that the house is settling and may be on unstable ground. This, of course, alarmed me. We went inside the house and looked at our tile for cracks (none) and walked over the carpet gingerly feeling for step offs (none).

We had the home inspected prior to purchase and there is nothing mentioned regarding these cracks. Our mason expert said these cracks have been present for a long time and certainly existed before the inspection. Had we known about this, we may not have purchased the house. Does anyone have any suggestions, comments, or ideas on where to proceed from here? I sort of feel like the inspector didn't reveal the potentially most important thing.
 
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Old 05-16-07, 07:40 PM
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cracks in exterior, foundation problem??

Your mason said they were older cracks, which means they are wahat is considered and inactive cracks. A home inspector would not make a note of any inactive cracks since they can be common espectially if you have a brick veneer on a wood frame structure that can shrink and move.

If you are really concerned about about structural problems, you could have a structural engineer look at the home.

You could also have a mason "tuckpoint" the masonry, which involves removing any cracked or deteriorating mortar and replacing it with new mortar.

Dick
 
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Old 05-16-07, 07:58 PM
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The location and direction of the cracks is useful in determining the cause. Do any of the cracks extend through the brick, or do they follw the joints? Are any of the cracks on the corners of the house, and what is their axis? When you say "loose bricks", do you mean the sill bricks, or bricks on the sides or top of the window?
 
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Old 05-17-07, 08:22 PM
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The cracks appear to follow the mortar; the bricks themselves are not cracked. The front of the house faces east and the most noticeable cracks are on the front of the garage (also facing east). I went out to look at the house after I read about checking the corners, and I see no cracks there. There is a cinderblock 'wall' that is next to the house, it looks like this.

|
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|-------- (wall)
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|(house)

I'm not sure if the wall was attached to the house, but it looks like the wall has 'pulled away' from the house. This is on the north side. I also took a good look at the chimney and saw no cracks there. There was a small area of mortar that looked repaired on the back of the house (facing west) but again I saw no cracked bricks, just mortar. The loose bricks I was referring to are between the lower edge of the half circle window and the upper edge of the door on our patio. It is a single row of bricks and our window installers noted to us that they were loose.

I was a bit concerned about the house's stability because apparently a bunch of sand and earth were imported to this area to build these communities. I am a little more relieved from the advice given here, but will probably get a structural engineer to come out and give their two cents worth.
 
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Old 05-17-07, 08:26 PM
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A structural engineer is your best bet, but if there are no corner cracks or through-the-brick cracks it is most likely not a structural issue.
 
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Old 05-25-07, 07:13 AM
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cracks on corners?

When you say cracks on the corners, are you talking about cracks through the mortar, the bricks? I'm not sure what I'm looking at.....and I see no cracks through the bricks. So, that's good news.

I went across the street and talked to my neighbor, who also has a brick house. His house is built on a stucco frame, and the brick is a veneer. I'm not so sure about mine...we just windows put in and I don't recall seeing any frame when they were yanking out my windows.

The other thing I noticed is that there are some pretty good sized cracks on the surface of my cul-de-sac. My neighbor said that thirty years ago, this area used to be a landfill.
 
 

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