Vertical crack in block wall

I could use some help on this please. I am currently training to be a home inspector and noticed this crack in the basement integral garage wall of a house I went thru today as part of my training. The wall was dry with no evidence of moisture present. The crack was approx 8’ long. First, just based on sight, what would you say the cause is? Also do you think it is a serious problem? Third, on the report would you suggest a structural engineer look at it or a lid contractor?

I realize it’s not the inspectors job to suggest how to fix a defect, but I was just curious. It looks like it was remortered at some point and the outside where this crack is was filled and painted over.

Sorry about the picture. I can’t attach images yet.

Thanks for the help…this board and site has been a big help to me in my studies.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App - See this image on Photobucket.

Licensed contractor…stupid autocorrect!

Most likely either 1.) expansive soil or 2.) insufficient footing… I suspect the expansive soil but with 1 picture one can never get a true understanding. Which leads me to give you and others advice… I take an average of over 100 pictures per inspection…on areas in question I can easily take 10 - 20 pictures.

As a contractor myself (and inspector), if a client hired me to look at it I would tell them to have an soil engineer first test the soil and then go from there…a structural engineer may then get involved followed by a GC who would take the engineer repair design and fix it.

A GC can point up… a GC can not do load calculations or come up with their own fixes involving structural issues…although some would like to have you believe such.

My rule is cracks exceeding 3/16" or with any displacement will warrant further investigation.


Looks to me like settling of the structure left of the crack to the left and down a bit. I’d have to see a lot more and better yet know more about the history of the house structure to make a good call as to why and how likely further significant movement is.

Some cracks like that can develop during the initial settling and pretty much stay in place, just needing filling; whereas others can be more recent, due to other issues, even such factors as soil being washed into drains (including old ceramic crock sewer lines or downspout boots), etc., etc., etc. Too many possibilities to list.

Probably one of the most misused and misunderstood words in the construction and inspection industries.

Homes do NOT settle…their is movement going on as with drywall which can develop nail pops due to expansion and contraction of moisture content of wood which makes people falsely use the word settlement; a home can be built on expansive soil which often causes cracks in the masonry foundation, especially when moisture is not properly managed around the home such as with lack of gutters or downspouts now properly draining…but to think that homes will eventually *settle *is not correct terminology.

Everyone inspector should understand this word along with understanding why cracks forms…Nachi has plenty of educational resources which will aid any inspector in understanding movement and likely causes.



I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect such perfect soil preparation that a house will stay right in place perfectly evenly after construction. “Settling” is the term I’ve heard to describe such typical and expected movement in my area. “Shifting” may have been a better term to use, but at 11:42 pm while taking a break toward the end of a 16 hour work day, I wasn’t quite that particular about the terminology, being more interested in what was happening.

Actually, in reports I do my best to describe things in simpler terms yet, e.g., “there was evidence of movement …”

What’s the story with the blocks, just above the stairstepping, that appear to have been drilled and sealed? Was this the case, or was it simply remants of adhesive for paneling that was removed, or…??? That could be an indication of repairs made, and would warrant needing information from the homeowner.

That depends on the type of structure :wink: