Horizontal foundation cracks and porch columns

I inspected this house this morning that had a slab front porch and a brick foundation. The brick foundation had a horizontal crack that extended all the way across. This foundation does bare the weight of the front roof that sits on a long header supported by 4 - 8"columns. The columns only appear to have a couple inches of the diameter holding up the header. The rest of the top of the column diameter is sitting exposed on the inside the porch and supporting nothing. I’m wondering if this whole installation of columns could be the culprit for the way the brick foundation has cracked horizontally all the way across the front. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.







It’s hard to say what is going on with the cracking just based on your photos. As far as the columns and the bearing of the beam on them, the manufacturer of the columns is the best source for what is allowable. That may be a difficult bit of information to obtain.

Something is obviously moving. Most newer porches are all concrete with a brick veneer. The photos are too close, do you have an overall photo?

Here are a couple more that I took. They don’t tell much. Oddly enough the soffit in that area was also sloping upward out toward the fascia.






Are you sure the columns are intended to provide much support? Not decorative? Porch roof looks like a cantilevered design, supported by trusses.

This picture clearly shows the rafters sitting on that header across the front. It was taken from the attic area looking down on the porch ceiling.

I found this on the web while searching for proper installation of porch columns…


I’m sorry, forgot to address your question about the trusses. Definitely not trusses, all stick built on the site. The second floor was finished off by the homeowner. Every receptacle on the second floor except for one were wired with reverse polarity, i.e. hot and neutral reversed.



In your original post, the second picture shows a foundation vent. Is there a void under that porch?

Actually, they ran two 4" PVC pipes side by side from the vent under the slab into an 8" block turned on its side to vent the crawl space. There were two vents like this. I’ll add pictures from inside the crawlspace shortly.


Isn’t the rafter tie also sitting on the outside (front) wall of the house?

There’s a knee wall in the finished room, but I don’t think it was meant to carry the load of the roof.

Judging from the photos, I would guess there is a problem with the drainage of the downspout at the right corner which is undermining the structure of the porch. It looks like much of the front face of the roof drains to that downspout and it seems to terminate only a couple feet from the corner.

The bearing on the posts is very odd and coupled with the vent design and the other issues you mentioned, I’m wondering who this contractor apprenticed under. Red Green?

That horizontal crack must be 20 feet long. That is, it goes from one end to the other of the length of that porch. Do you think the one downspout would cause it to move that far?

Columns appear decorative
Not bearing on anything but a curtain (wall) of brick veneer
Yes it’s a load beam above
Yes it’s failing

If the supports (non existent) were moved back towards the house and centered on the upper beams and bearing on the concrete you would be fine… carpenters are a dying breed!


Maybe I’m not fully understanding what you are saying, but if the columns were moved back onto the slab, wouldn’t the load beam have to be beefed up considerably and moved in toward the house with it? It’s barely catching the edge of the beam as it is.

That’s correct. The slab you are seeing is most likely the perimeter of the footing wall. We’ll assume it’s cinderblock without any further photos. If that’s the case, the support post(s) should be setback and bear upon the exterior footing which should in fact be substantial enough to support the beam. The decorative columns are merely that, decorative. The person installing them was not aware of this as it was most likely a remodel of some type.

How can you tell if they are decorative or not. The center cross-section image I posted earlier looks to be that fiberglass reinforced material you see everywhere for load-bearing walls or am I missing something else?


It appears to me for a crack to be fairly uniform for 20 feet the back of the porch slab may have settled and rotated. But, if that porch slab is 6 feet deep, it would have to settle about 1 inch to get a 1/8 inch mortar crack.


You were spot on about the rotating. After I saw the diagram I had a chance to go back and have another look this morning because I wasn’t able to get to the electrical panel and the water heater yesterday. The owners are in the middle of moving and had all this heavy furniture all up against those things.

Anyhow, adjacent to where the largest crack in the brick veneer was the slab was actually sloping back toward the house. The rest of the slab was either level or sloping down toward the brick veneer.

Regarding any other supporting structure for the beam the columns were supporting there was only the knee walls on the second floor and they weren’t put in with a top plate. They were nailed directly to the side of the rafters. The owner put them up himself and just nailed the knee wall studs right to the side of the rafters.

Thanks for the help to everyone. You guys are great.

For those rafter tails to be turned up, you might consider you have two (2) things going on. Not only do the posts need to be added and moved but the “floors” are also under tension. If the ceiling rafters (floor joists) aren’t the correct dimensional lumber they are most likely deflecting… Hmm

Hard to tell if they were actually turned up or if perhaps the tails were cut a little short down that edge. Or maybe whoever installed the channel for the soffit got off a little and went lower than the should have.