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40 foot long horizontal crack


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I inspected a house, today, that is three years old. The entire span of the west basement wall (approx 40 feet) had a crack running the length of it that never widened more than 1/8th inch. The crack continued to the next (north) wall and travelled horizontally for three feet and moved up the wall to the top of the foundation. The wall with the entire length cracked is the wall facing the uphill side of a sloping terrain and the soil is clay. Any argument against recommending a structural engineer?[?]

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Originally posted by jbushart

I inspected a house, today, that is three years old. The entire span of the west basement wall (approx 40 feet) had a crack running the length of it that never widened more than 1/8th inch. The crack continued to the next (north) wall and travelled horizontally for three feet and moved up the wall to the top of the foundation. The wall with the entire length cracked is the wall facing the uphill side of a sloping terrain and the soil is clay. Any argument against recommending a structural engineer?[?]

None.

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I am told that an appraiser did an inspection in May and made no mention to the owner, which he is not obligated to, anyway. The crack, by all accounts, was unknown to the owner until this inspection. He is not selling, but has a warranty ready to expire. The grading does slope toward part of the foundation wall on the southwest side and there is erosion. This part of the landscape lays under a deck supported on concrete peirs (at least for now, since the erosion is washing the clay away from them, as well).

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Originally posted by crusty

Could it be a cold joint and not a crack?

I don't think so, Steve. The crack, as it moves vertically up the north wall widens to a pretty large "v" at the top. Looks like some separation at that point. While the crack is not super wide, it is more significant than what I would refer to as a "hairline".

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Originally posted by hausdok

You can usually get a pretty good estimate the amount of settlement if you measure from the closed end of the crack to the top of the wall, measure the width of the crack at the top and then divide the length of the crack into the distance from the downhill corner and multiply by the width of the crack.

I hear it's pretty accurate in divorce cases as well. [:-eyebrow[:-mischie[:o][;)]

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Originally posted by hausdok

Hi,

So, it starts at zero and widens as it goes to the top of the wall. Sounds like you've got some settling there. If you have a crack on one wall, you have to have a crack on another wall that corresponds to the area that's settling.

How far is that crack from the downhill corner? You can usually get a pretty good estimate the amount of settlement if you measure from the closed end of the crack to the top of the wall, measure the width of the crack at the top and then divide the length of the crack into the distance from the downhill corner and multiply by the width of the crack.

OT - OF!!!

M.

I was with ya until downhill corner. Any diagram that might show this method Mike?

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Jim,

Without a visual, it's difficult to grasp exactly what's happening, and there are a number of causitive factors that could create what you're describing. Due to contraction, concrete typically cracks about an 1/8" per 10', so the house may not even have a problem. But . . . if it turns out that repairs are, indeed, needed, they will likely be expensive. It would be wise to have your buyer contact an engineer to limit your exposure.

John

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Thank you, all, for the advice. From the wide range of responses it appears that it would indeed by prudent to recommed a structural engineer review, which I did. I hate to put my client through the expense and hassle of a second opinion unless it is absolutely necessary. This time, I feel that it is in his best interest. Thanks, again.

Jim

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Ever since a structural engineer came to look at a foundation crack on one of my inspections said "Yep, its a problem. You need to get a foundation contractor in here." and then charged them $300.00, I don't recommend structural engineers anymore.

I tell em,

"I recommend that you consult a qualified foundation contractor (who utilizes the services of a licensed engineer to design repairs), to determine any needed repairs, design the appropriate repairs, estimate costs and perform all repairs deemed necessary." or some such variation.

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  • 5 months later...

Here is my two cents worth

1. I don’t believe that this crack is caused by freezing because the basement is heated.

2. I don’t believe that there is a settlement problem because of the walls and footing reinforcement and the higher location of the crack on the North Wall.

3. I believe that the wall was backfilled prior to the concrete reaching 80% of the design strength, which would cause the Inside wall to bow and push against the side wall upwards. This action will develop cracks. When you inspect a concrete structure you to do let the backfilling operation start until the concrete reach 80% of design strength ( Design strength is based on 28 Days Cure time) Concrete will normal reach 66% of Design strength in 7 Days. I have seen this condition before in concrete structures. Do I CYA, yes, remember we are not experts. Where are you Structural Engineer or license contractor?

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