stepped crack

This picture shows brickwork above the side entry door on a 50+ year old bungalow. No other signs of cracks on this wall. Do you think the crack was caused by installation of octagon box some years ago (I think quality of masonry work suggests box was added after construction(?)). Or should I suspect some other cause? The crack is not visible in the horizontal portion of the mortar joint.

To my untrained eye, it appears the box was fitted and moisture has penetrated. Successive freezing and thawing has generated the crack.

It could also be a failed lintel.

I would look for foundation cracks. It may be that one corner of the foundation has settled, creating tension on upper portions of the wall, and the wall cracked and spread at its weakest point: the narrow portion of brick above the door.

Jim King

Perhaps it is just the picture, but it looks like there is a very slight sag at the center of the window frame, just below the crack. If that is the case, I would guess lintel movement or failure. If there are no other indications anywhere in the area of structural failure, or bowed walls, etc., personally I would recommend pointing/repair and monitoring.

settlement caused by ___?
may or may not increase. will allow weather infiltration and further damage if not repaired by a qualified contractor.

Peter,

Do you have a wide shot of that side of the building?

The best I have is a photo of the rear quarter. The crack is over the door in this picture. Note that there is also a thin crack, about 2’ long vertically in the foundation at the back (circled in red). Thanks.

The step crack above the door could be a relief crack. Given its location and only several courses of brick above I don’t believe its anything to worry about.

The two cracks are not related.

Peter

Not to familiar with your area.
Is the foundation CMU, Poured Concrete, Triple Brick ?
Any signs of movement on the inside, either under or adjacent to the areas of concern? Ex: moisture penetration, settlement at footings or exterior steps?
What are those (assumed) white PVC pipes to the left of the door in question?
Be interested in what you end up determining/confirming.

Hi Greg, The foundation is poured concrete. No cracks on the finished surface inside but the crack does continue under the door (at the right side). I didn’t notice this until this morning - it is below the sill, and then disappears behind the concrete porch.

The pipes (galvanized steel?) lead to an oil tank in the basement.

I think settlement is the problem - only a guess. I pointed out the cracks to the prospective buyer. He is not concerned since the cracks are thin and without lateral displacement - and better than most other houses of similar age which he has looked at. Thanks for your response.

One of you said failed lentil. One of you thinks it is a settlement problem. One of you says it is no problem. Think about what we have here. One problem with three different diagnosis. What happens if one of you is right and two of you are wrong. I personally think Andrew came the closest with his response. Just food for though.

So William, how do you know Andrew is right?

Because he called out for repair by a qualified contractor rather than trying to determine the cause of the problem.

Yes, but the original question wasn’t whether to recommend repair, but was a question about what may have caused it: “Do you think the crack was caused by installation of octagon box some years ago (I think quality of masonry work suggests box was added after construction(?)). Or should I suspect some other cause? The crack is not visible in the horizontal portion of the mortar joint.”

Knowing the causes helps us all learn whether issues should be reported as significant or not, and knowing how homes “react” in your own inspection area furthers that knowledge. :wink:

This in my opinion and experience does not appear to be a settlement crack, it appears to be horizontal movement. If their were a foundation problem or lintel problem I think the crack would be vertically displaced and the opposite sides of the crack would not line up. Could it be the result of expansion and contraction of the bricks along the entire length of this wall?

I agree with William that the important thing is to recommend repair by a qualified contractor.

However, if the crack closes significantly in hot weather and opens in cold, that would indicate that thermal expansion and contraction were the original cause. The horizontal movement appears to be about 3/8", which is a lot of thermal expansion for a wall of this apparent width.

Keeping in mind that all settlement is vertical, it could still be caused by settlement of either end of the house. In such case, the crack beneath the door would be considerably less than 3/8 " wide. There would also be a narrow crack in the basement floor.

Jim King