Strange mortar joint separation

I found this mortar joint separation common at similar window configurations in this property. It is an apartment building and has similar cracks at nearly all the same style windows, sometimes one side but most times on both sides of the windows. It was built about 1984. The crack does not seem to be a result of cracked foundation from settling due to water being dumped at the buildings’ downspouts. Has anyone seen something similar or have a idea why this is occurring?

Yes! Recommend them to seal it and monitor.

Thanks Roy. I was kind of looking for a savant to tell me why it was happening though. Any ideas?

Where two different walls/mortar joints come together you will have expansion and contraction causing this hopeful small separation.
Will that work for you?

Works well enough. Thanks

Do you have a zoomed out pic of the entire wall? if there were no other control joints, where it cracked would be the weakest point and the likely reason for it.

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That was just what I was thinking, Simon.

“According to the National Concrete Masonry Association, control joints must be less than 20 feet (6.1m) and the distance between control joints must also be no greater than 1.5 times the height of the wall panel.”

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Where I placed the arrows are the areas that are similar and nearly all have the vertical cracks and this is consistent through 5 different buildings all with similar design features.

There are 2 windows, one above the other, a vertical column on each side of stacked half bricks that differs from the bricks to the sides and within the two columns and between the windows.
And strangely, the cracks are predominantly in the section between the top of the bottom window and the bottom of the top window.

It looks like they missed on both measurements…maybe close but I see no cigar. :thinking:

Edit: By the way, Andres, welcome to our forum. Don’t be a stranger. :smile:

So even with the face of the building having so many different planes to it, there would still be control joints needed? Those faces with the windows and cracks are not even that big!

That is how I understand and used it. But, I’ve been wrong before. Were there cracks in the corners?

No, just stretching between the windows, sometimes both sides, and sometimes stretching beyond the tops/bottoms of the windows. But I never saw any that actually cracked the bricks below the bottom window. Typically the cracks were just in the space between the windows and following those columns of half bricks, like in the first picture I posted

Not being a mason, when there is a vertical column of bricks like the ones in the pictures, should there be a mechanical tie-in between the column bricks and the normal brickwork beside the column? Some kind of tab like the ones holding the brick wall to the frame work perhaps to prevent the two from pulling away from each other?

Andres, those are typical but improperly made control joints. The control joints should have metal U/V joints that can flex with the movement of the veneer. Someone just needs to seal those joints correctly, not with mortar or they will crack again.


Not being a mason either, I think it is framed behind the wall and the columns. So, brick ties would be used, I believe.

the blind leading the blind :wink:
heck, I’m one of the blind also; backer rod and caulking should take care of that

Why are control joints located so close together and just on either side of the windows? Control joints in most materials (concrete, stucco, etc.) are distributed on a square footage basis. I understand that the corners of square openings are high-stress areas, but one doesn’t normally see control joints installed at those locations in brick veneer or double-wythe construction.

This seems to be a pretty good article on the subject. I’m wondering if they failed to install backer rod and failed to use the correct type of mortar. Or used grout.

ummm, why not install an interior system and sump pump, yeah allow the water in then try n divert it and pump the crap out, quite a few think that is a fine idea for basements


What he said…

Say what? O_o

Might work I guess