Step crack leading to further cracks

Hey guys,

I just did a home inspection and upon doing my exterior observations noticed some step cracks on the brickwork of the home. The step cracks on the back corner of the house lead to cracks that went right across the bricks over about 5 to 6 bricks. Although the cracks size was not large, should this be a “reg flag” since it broke across the bricks did not continue as a step crack. I’m hoping the attached pictures can shead some light. My thoughts are to call it out for further review.


George Mendes

step crack - crack.jpg

step crack - crack2.jpg

George it does not look serious. I would be inclined to tell the client to monitor it. Its not uncommon to see cracking at corners such as your photos.


It’s usually corner v-cracks that are the problem. I agree with Ray that a very thin vertical crack covering a short distance is probably not serious. It’s those horizontal beauties that worry me.

My first impression is that the crack may have occurred because there is no control joint, but I can’t tell from the pictures how long the two walls are. Envision what would happen if two walls with a right-angle corner like those both expand…there would be an outward push at the corner, and the weaker side **could **crack in much the fashion that the pictures illustrate.

My guess is that the crack now functions as a control joint, and the bricks may have cracked all they are going to crack. I agree with the suggestion that the crack be monitored. The owners may even be able to see seasonal changes in the width of the crack, or perhaps in the offset between the two surfaces on either side of the crack… I gather the house is in the Toronto area, where seasonal changes in expansion would be significant.

Pure guesswork, for what it’s worth.

George, As a homeowner that has personally experience a foundation failure, I’m probably more cautious than most, but since the crack goes “across bricks” I would be more concerned. Not knowing what you may have seen from the inside, I would strongly state (CYA) in the report that client should monitor and have an engineer evaluate if any movement is noticed.

it’s not uncommon for a brick to stress crack like that in the middle of the step crack. the stress caused failure along the path of least resistance. in this case the brick was weaker than the mortar joint.

the fix will probably not look very appealing as it’s difficult (impossible) to match mortar so that you can’t tell.

one concern, other than aesthetic, is that water may penetrate those cracks so they weep holes (there are weep holes, aren’t there?) should be checked. freeze/thaw is another concern.

so the crack and movement should be monitored.