Foundation cracks after window replacement


Old 08-23-12, 09:24 PM
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Foundation cracks after window replacement

Hello all,

No so long ago I hired a contractor to change windows in my basement.
The old windows were of wood with thick wood frames.
The new windows are vinyl ones.

Some days ago I noticed that there is a small crack in the foundation just above each window (see the attached picture).

The house was built in 1954.


How serious is it?
Is it common to have this kind of stuff after window replacement?
Should I sue the contractor because of the foundation damage?

Thank you in advance

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Old 08-23-12, 09:55 PM
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A little too early to talk about suing.

Were the old windows holding up the walls above without a proper lintel?

Windows are just a hole in the wall and have no structural effect and are properly set in an opening that is framed to distribute the loads.

Old 08-23-12, 10:22 PM
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Thank you for the prompt response.
There is seems to be a lintel in the foundation above the window. However I am sure these cracks appeared right after the window replacement or a couple of days after. I had 5 basement windows replaced and each one has now a crack like this.
Does this indicate some lintel problems?
Old 08-24-12, 04:07 AM
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I don't see a lintel on the part sticking from the wall. How far out does the metal lintel protrude? I doubt changing a window would have caused the cracks, but a failure in the original lintel, or the original window frame being used as a lintel would cause weakness.
Old 08-24-12, 07:27 AM
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I double-checked and I think you are right there is no metal lintel. I found also the picture that I took at the installation time that confirms it. You can also see old wooden parts removed from the window and that the new window is smaller than the old one.


1. Should I put some support above window to prevent further expansion?
2. Shouldn't contractors normally advise customers that removing old parts may cause damages like this? Until today I had absolutely no idea what lintel is.

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Old 08-24-12, 03:13 PM
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If you post a couple of shots of the outside showing the whole window opening, we might get a better idea of what is going on
Old 08-24-12, 04:17 PM
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A sharp contractor would have realized that since there are no steel lintels, the wood frame (and possibly, at least in part, window) was acting as the lintel, and would need something to replace it when removed. If not a steel angle, then at least a heavy, pressure-treated timber set in wall notches, to carry part of the load the wall above it is trying to support.

I'd get the contractor back and ask for his take on it. Something definitely needs to be done, but if the contractor has no suggestions, maybe a quick look by a licensed engineer (with the contractor present) could provide a workable solution.

Threatening to sue would not be the most effective way to proceed. I thought only greedy Americans did that.
Old 08-25-12, 08:06 AM
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Thank you all for the replies.
This is the outside view of the window if this can give more details.
I have noticed also a couple of bricks cracked in the middle just above the window opening.

Sorry, may be I overreacted a bit in regard of the lawsuit, but honestly I was quite upset and could not imagine that a simple window replacement will involve such kind of foundation issues.

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Old 08-25-12, 08:41 AM
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The 2nd picture you uploaded still shows a wood frame that is around your windows.

Have any pics of the windows from BEFORE they were replaced? You sure these haven't been cracked for years, and you just noticed it now that you were closely examining the windows?
Old 08-27-12, 05:54 AM
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I think BridgeMan45's post makes a lot of sense.
In the 60's and 70's here the external skin of brickwork was often built directly on top of the timber window frames without a lintel. When plastic windows were put in as replacements the brickwork would usually drop a bit in the centre and put pressure on the glass, sometimes cracking it or jamming the casements.
Nowadays window installers have to install a lintel if there isn't one.

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