Horizontal Brick Veneer Crack?

I inspected a home built in 1950 with a block foundation and partial crawlspace. There was a horizontal crack in the corner of the home with displacement and also ran through the center of the chimney. There was a vertical crack on the face of the fireplace but could not see any cracking in the interior walls due to paneled wall coverings. There was no cracking anywhere else in the home or on the foundation itself. Any help would be appreciated on how I can advise my client. I don’t see this type of cracking every day and would like to hear advice from others.

Describe what you see and elevate it to a brick contractor.


I’d just like to know for my own sake how a horizontal Crack with displacement like this can appear if there was no cracking on the foundation?

Wood Shrinkage.

Okay, to start with. Those exterior photos does not show cracking from here. It shows mortar repairs.

Second, is that brick a veneer or structural?

What I suspect happened is the brick chimney moved at some point in the last 75 years, likely inward. Maybe from a tree or just leaned. It took some of the home sidewall with it.

Other factors such as wood “shrinkage” or moisture damage to the structural wood framing could also cause the brick to move.

The key to this all is if the brick is now considered stable.

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Structural-masonry clearance issue. Refer a licensed masonry contractor with inhouse structural engineer.
Just my 2 cents.


I’m agreeing with Brian, it is probably related to chimney rotation sometime over the last 75 years. The vertical crack over the old flue connector is a pretty good clue.
And, Robert is right, unless the sellers can document that repairs were designed by a SE an engineering evaluation is warranted.

Here is the standard blurb I use for this kind of situation:
Evidence of previous foundation repairs was found at the . Cracks have been repaired and no evidence of subsequent movement was found, however it cannot be determined as part of a home inspection if movement has stabilized or will continue. You should request copies of any building permits, engineering reports, contractor’s invoices and warranties available for your records. If no documentation is available you should have repairs investigated by a NC licensed Professional Engineer to verify the adequacy of repairs. Any additional repairs recommended by your engineer should be done by a professional masonry contractor.

Kind of long, but if you are using any of the electronic reporting forms you only have to type it once.


Yep, Brian is on it! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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That is a very nice narrative.

I am going to steal it with my personal changes below. Feel free to editorialize or criticize.

Brick mortar had an apparent past repair attempt with no significant visible settlement or cracks observed at the time of inspection. However, I was unable to conclusively determine if the brick has stabilized or if further settlement may occur.

The rest continues as written.

(I was once advised by a 10 cent lawyer not to use the word movement because it is a current action as in something moving before your eyes. I was advised not to use the word repair unless I was certain the repair was adequate or complete, hence “repair attempt”. I was advised not to use the word evidence but use other specific words such as “no visible cracks”. Take it for what it is worth since I paid nothing for it. :grinning: )


Feel free to steal all you want, I kind of put it out there in case people wanted to use it, and just to see if someone had a better idea. :sunglasses:
I kind of like the idea of saying repair attempt, just because all we can really see is where the cracks were patched, and I like to differentiate between a real repair where we know the defect has been actually fixed, and a patch job where maybe it was just covered up. Thanks for getting me thinking on that. I think I will change “cracks have been repaired” to “cracks have been pointed up”.
I think saying subsequent movement probably solves the problem of whether something is a current action. Don’t see the problem with using “evidence”, but all kinds of people who don’t do this for a living think they are qualified to tell us how to do our jobs. I have even had an engineer try to tell me I couldn’t use the word “structural” in my report, even though it is in our SOP 7 times. :flushed:
He was ignored.


I use “evidence” sometimes as well, I am with you on that.

I mean seriously, sometimes we just overthink things. It is our nature.

I wrote: “Rear low slope roof, evidence of ponding water observed”
I could have said: “Rear low slope roof had circular patterns and sediment stains on the surface of the roof covering material consistent with ponding water”

Who the hell wants to read all of that!?

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No kidding. Sometimes we have to remember to get to the point. I call it the W s.
What is it?
Where is it?
Why do we care?
Who should do What about it.
Which somehow reminded me of this old meme:


Did the foundation heave.

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Yes, Large earthworms were located in the area around the house, :flushed:


I’m pretty certain this was brick veneer and seen no shifting or signs of movement anywhere on the foundation block. Would an engineer be needed in this situation? I’m a little confused as to if this is simply wood shrinkage or a major foundation problem.

May not be either of those things, you stated the foundation was in good shape so that can be eliminated.

As far as an SE goes, I personally would not elevate this to SE. I would transfer the responsibility to the seller to a “qualified brick contractor”. The, the brick contractor and seller can assume responsibility from there. I think we often “shoot the moon” straight to an engineer.

With all due respect: Expansive soils heave foundations. It was a question.

I was a practicing mason. As well, I framed homes.
Timber frame, masonry clearance.
The chimney is not rotating. There is a structural element clearance concern.

I rebuilt chimneys, which means I excavated the masonry, removed existing masonry prior to rebuilding the chimney to locate the problem.

As well, the roof eave was recently cald. Cleance!