New article: Crack Analysis

Although the standards of practice don’t require home inspectors to identify the cause of cracking, understanding the forces that cause cracking may help inspectors understand where to look for other problems that might not otherwise be obvious.

In expanding the reference section on my website I thought I’d ask for comments on this article on Crack Analysis.


When we talked earlier tonight, Kenton, I had no idea that you did Crack Analysis. :joy: :flushed: :rofl:

Sorry, I’ll try to be more helpful. :smile:

That particular type is called a wisecrack, Larry!
Still waiting for the wisecrack about the plumber.

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Yes, yes I know and I feel very, very, very…well, you know. :pensive:

No you don’t! You’re just deciding how to best phrase that plumber’s _____ comment.

That would be: “Still waiting for the widecrack about the plumber.”

I think that’s a mental image I want to avoid.

I’m sorry Kenton, but I couldn’t get past the " stress is relieved by cracking. ".

I have had some stress lately and I don’t want to crack.

I’m sorry. I just don’t know what has gotten into me tonight. :thinking:

This is an example of how to create your thread, and then beat everybody else to drifting it!

I’ll get the eye bleach…

I’m cracking up

Yes, back to helping Kenton in expanding the reference section on his website…anyone? Please, anyone? He is being sincere and I am goofing around…sorry. :pensive:

Nice and condensed reference Kenton. I also like your 'visual inspection of concrete" :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks Joseph!
Yep, I’m a big fan of Harry Audell’s book. It keeps things fairly simple and provides a good way for people to understand the forces that cause cracks.

We might need to crack down on you, young man!

You know, I posted this subject in absolute sincerity. Joseph is the only one able to lash a leash on the temptation to spout jokes about cracks. Even I am guilty.

It took me some time to put together that article Analyzing Cracks on my website. I’m expanding the reference section on my website hoping that internet searches related to inspection topics covered in my reference section will bring inspectors to my website who don’t yet know about the InterNACHI Narrative Library. Other than my posts, they don’t have any good way to discover it.

I’m also working with a couple of inspection software manufacturers to produce a new feature especially important to newer inspectors.

Based on my experience the As Built Line (ABL) in that reference book is a nice to know, but rarely known or available. Foundations and slabs routinely are out of level or plumb. So when I have to look at a structural issue your basically putting a puzzle together with pieces missing and in some cased multiple unrelated structural issues can be found in one house. This is like two or more puzzles mixed together with pieces missing. With 35 years as a structural engineer and 25 years doing home inspections identifying the cause of foundation and wall cracks can be difficult. One piece of advice is most basement floor slabs are poured independent of the perimeter foundation. Cracks due to movement in the floor slab can be and often are not related to cracks found due to movement in the exterior foundation walls. One tip I can give is 90% of the time a diagonal drywall crack over a door or window almost always points in the direct where the floor or foundation has move down. But the best tool I have is to do a floor elevation survey of the basement floor slab combined with a floor elevation survey of the first floor of the house. Looking at all the cracks and crack patterns from a 30,000 foot view often tells more than looking at individual cracks. Last point I want to make is when looking for puzzle pieces don’t be too quick to say you know the whole picture. Start with knowing the basics of concrete and soils, then learn as much as you can from more experienced inspectors and engineers that specialize in building inspections.

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My favorite floor/slab/property elevation tool:


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I ran into an inspector in Dallas was year who uses this level system, and I was impressed. He was an engineer too. I think engineers know how to use these systems and have the skills to use them correctly and avoid trouble. I kinda worry that inspectors with lesser skills will get themselves into trouble using this technology, since it’s pretty far past the SOPs.

Especially since I agree with Randy that a number of things can be going on with a structure and maybe inspectors should not be too quick to specify in their reports the causes of problems that they’re not required to identify. I think cracks are good clues as to what forces are acting on a structure, and they might lead an inspector to look somewhere he might not have looked if he hadn’t seen a crack.

If either Randy or Darren were to give a one-day class on any aspect of home inspection, I’d happily pay good money to attend.

I agree Kenton. Just because someone can purchase the equipment, doesn’t mean they know how to interpret the results.
I too would pay to attend a class by Randy or Darren.

This is true. I don’t think I’ve ever used this during a HI. Definitely use it quite often in structural assessments and structural baseline studies. Used an older model pretty steady in the months after Superstorm Sandy. Flat out awesome what coastal overwash can do to a foundation. Saw a bunch of homes that were basically tilted toward the ocean, 3 to 4 inches from one end of the house to the other.