Asked on Jan 26, 2013

Should I be concerned?

Galen W. YoderBeach BummDelores Snellen


Is this discoloration and slight mortar cracking something to be concerned about. The house is 35 years old and is just normal settling of the house.
10 answers
  • DeFranco Landcaping, Inc.
    on Jan 26, 2013

    Looks like there may be settling of the foundation. Is there any rot in the window sill? I would take a look in that access door. Maybe post another picture looking through the access door or from behind it.

  • Unless you have a structural brick wall (highly unlikely as most are basically veneers attached to structural framing & sheating) the cracks still look mostly cosmetic at this moment. With that said you do need to get a mason to look into the walls & get them repointed & the water damage fixed before it gets worse, peels away, etc... The fix isn't going to get any cheaper - just more expensive As for settling - any doors out of plumb, drywall cracks, or... --- is there a steellintel above the crawlspace door trim, if not that could be a factor

  • The brick wall veneer is placed on a brick ledge somewhere below the foundation level. The only attachment to the wall surface is used to prevent it from falling over. When brick begins to crack such as this it is an indication that either the brick has come off of the ledge or that the foundation has shifted. Repointing this wall may make it look ok, but will do nothing at all to prevent this from getting worse. The fix is to dig down to where the bricks are resting to evaluate the condition of the foundation. Normally the bricks are only a few courses below the natural grade of the soil. SLS Construction Solutions is correct by suggesting that a professional mason contractor come in to evaluate this issue. Ideally a structural engineer is suggested, but a qualified mason should be able to assist you for a few dollars less. I would be interested in knowing if the wall has a bulge in it or is it still fairly vertical? Also along where the floor line is located, about two to four bricks above the old what appears to be coal access door you should see a series of openings between the brick where mortar is missing or perhaps if you look carefully you may find some rope stuck in the cement. This is about were the first floor level is located. These holes are known as Weep holes. What goes on at this point is a metal flashing or in some cases heavy asphalt tar paper is placed between the brick joint and run up onto the wall that the brick covers. The reason for this is to divert any water that seeps through the brick face and runs down the back of the brick, When it gets to the weep hole area the water collects and runs out the openings. If these holes are blocked, missing or incorrectly located water will build up behind the brick and during cold weather will expand and push the brick out and away from the structure. If it continues down to the brick ledge it will push the brick off of the ledge causing the settlement you see here. In addition if the weep holes are not there or not working water can build up and rot the inside wood framing that rests near the bricks. If you go to you will find cut sheets on how the brick is supposed to be installed.

    q should i be concerned, home maintenance repairs, This shows how the brick should be tied to the wall of the interior framing system The gap behind the brick is very critical Masons when installing the brick clean the extra cement out from behind the wall so it does not rub wallq should i be concerned, home maintenance repairs, This shows the placement of the weep holes It is a bit misleading as the holes must be above grade and located where the floor framing is located Also will find above every window where the metal lentil is locatedq should i be concerned, home maintenance repairs, Brick continues to grow once its placed on the wall It absorbs moisture As the wall grows the metal ties allow it to move up If the wall was to tight to the framing the ties fail and the wall bows out
  • Mark B
    on Jan 27, 2013

    Thanks for the info. there is no bowing, in the worst case what do you think it would cost to fix. BTW born and raised in Colonia. lived on cameo place, just of Lake Ave.

  • Worst case? Well it could it be a couple of hundred a few thousand or into the tens of thousands as you need to bring in drywall & framing guys...The only one that knows the cost is going to be the mason & will be dependent on what they find, how long it will take to fix, and the ease of access to those areas...

  • The one thing I would add to SLS statement would be cost also is determined by the quality of the mason. If they guy has no idea on how to fix it could cost thousands more, If they do, you can save a bundle. The fix will not require the wall to be taken down, but if done correctly smaller sections at a time can be removed and replaced so not to disturb the rest of the wall system. But we are getting way ahead of ourselves. First get someone in to dig and explore what is going on below the soil in that area. Heck you can do the digging yourself Just be careful not to dig into any pipes or wires underground in that area.

  • Hamtil Construction LLC
    on Jan 30, 2013

    Hi @Mark B, do you have a basement? Any indications of cracks or movement visible from inside the basement or the first floor? As others have said, it looks like you have brick veneer. I find it unusual that the brick goes down below the grade. Normally, I would expect to see some foundation wall exposed above grade, but that would apply to a home where a "brick ledge" is not poured into the foundation. Around here, most veneer construction does not include a brick ledge. To me, brick below grade indicates a possibility that water/ moisture could enter the wall system. It would be good to expose the foundation, and look from inside as well, to see what's happening and if wood rot is contributing to the situation at all. However, movement and settling of the foundation is certainly the best suspect, IMO. Especially with the drought conditions we have experienced recently.

  • Delores Snellen
    on Jul 14, 2015

    I had this at my house and used a level to make sure what had moved then called a foundation guy to come and look at it He fixed it for $450 all he did was repoint the joints (redid the mortar ) It has been fine ever since He did 2 big long cracks one on each side of the house (both were for the same room )

  • Beach Bumm
    on Sep 12, 2015

    foundarion movement.water during a solid rain will show it

  • Galen W. Yoder
    on Jul 26, 2016

    Is the small hatch, door, a crawl space access door? You aren't showing the entire side of the house, or above the window. If the the corner of the house to the left, or right of the window, (not shown) are settling the crack could be the " symptom " of a different problem! Are there downspout drains at either corner that aren't plumbed away from the house, or plugged up and leaking back towards the foundation, has there been any recent, (past 10 years)of tree removal,excavation ,??. It may be the photo, but it does look as though the mortar slopes down both directions away from the main crack! Water penetration in this type of situation is highly probable, and hopefully it hasn't caused to much substrat damage, ----Any indicators of drywall, or plaster discoloration on the interior wall at this location, any interior cracks? Definitely should be checked out a good foundation person, and mason!

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