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pm124

Crack in wall

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Hi all,  Our building  recently had an exterior wall partially rebuilt. This is a 6 story building constructed around 1900 brick and mortar. 

A contractor was hired before I moved in. As I understand it, the project was to remove material from the outside of the build and repoint. As I understand it, it went from a $100,00 repoint to a $260,000 project. 

In the course of this project, they ignored the side of the building. Instead, it appears that they removed some cement covering the brick and then put caulk between the cement and the brick. 

The wall subsequently developed large cracks  A winter has passed between the completion of the work and the time of these pictures. Do you think the caulk could have caused this cracking?  Is this serious?  What actions would you take?

 

thank you!!

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0D7F1DB7-AE6A-4DD1-B0C0-5C086AD5377F.jpeg

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If you can post some better pictures it could help experienced people here give opinions.  Some wider angle shots of the entire building showing where the cracks are might help in diagnosis.  

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Chimneys and buildings are (generally) separate structures and tend to move independently of each other. This chimney is just doing what it's been doing for 100+ years - moving independently of the building. The sealant joint was a poor idea and has allowed some superficial damage to the bricks. At this point, I'm not really sure that any further "repair" would help anything. I'd probably just leave it alone. (Trying to remove that sealant would make a mess.) 

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Hi all--I have been trying to get a better picture. This isn't a chimney. It is actually a wall. The sealant joint was done by a contractor after they removed the cement from the outer portion of the brick. It sure looks like that is what caused the crack, because the crack follows the sealant all the way down the wall.

It is very difficult to get a good picture because I can't get into the neighboring building without trespassing onto their roof. 

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You're suggesting that the caulk is stronger than the brick, no? The crack may have opened up since the work was done, but I would not say the repair work was the cause, but maybe that the work was stopped when it should have continued. Just a guess until we know more.

Is the building wood frame with a brick veneer, or is it an actual brick structure? What is the condition of the foundation, and is it accessible, such as a basement below this area?

I am not saying there is a major issue because we can't see enough of the wall to make a judgement on it. We need more info.

A picture from farther back would be helpful.

Edited by John Kogel

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Thanks John!

Nope, I'm suggesting that the brick and mortar absorbed water which froze behind the caulk and caused expansion, thus causing the brick to crack. The crack is perfectly along the caulk line. Here is a photo of the building and a detail of the area.

Caulk on side of building.jpg

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Caulking did not cause the crack. 

Rob's video describes one of the processes that can happen when applying caulking (or Portland cement based mortar) in mortar joints but is not applicable to this issue. 

Movement is the cause of this crack. I can't tell what caused the movement from a couple pictures.

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Thanks Bill! But how do you explain how:

1. The crack perfectly follows the line of the caulk from the top to the bottom, and how the crack involves both brick and mortar? 

2. The crack was not present 1 year ago prior to the application of the caulk, and appeared after the application of the caulk?

Also, is this serious? It does not completely cross all layers of brick. It is not obvious to me how one would repair this.

Edited by pm124
Add detail

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With this new info, I'm inclined to see you point of view. Water runs down over the wall or just heavy rain, and then a hard frost and something has to give. Is the stucco on the right an example of the old surface that was removed from the brick?

Did an engineer inspect the condition of the brick and the mortar? I see some old loose mortar in the closeup pictures.

Does the roof drainage keep the walls dry?

Edited by John Kogel

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Thanks John. That was my thinking. The stucco on the right is the old surface that was removed from the brick. Engineers did inspect the wall prior to the crack. That was about a year ago. I'm sure that not much has changed then other than the crack. They should have addressed the loose mortar. The walls are protected from draining water, but the stucco absorbs some. Here is a picture taken from today. There was some light rain.

You can also see the appropriate repair with soft mortar on the corner bricks, which was done by the same company. The building was in pretty bad shape, but they did a $200,000+ job for a fairly small square footage of work (6 story building, 12 1/2 Ft wide). Would think that they would have removed more of the stucco to see what is underneath and wouldn't have used caulk.

 

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Edited by pm124

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Light-colored concrete does not absorb as much heat from the sun (perhaps)... and the red brick does... red brick expands and starts to destroy itself now that it absorbs more heat from the sun???   Just a guess. ... What you appear to need is a professional engineer savvy about 'the coefficient of expansion' of those various materials...  ....   

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Hopefully the engineer from last year has pictures of those transition areas.

You could have a look at the contract that was drawn up for the work .You want to see an explanation for why the loose mortar in the vulnerable areas was not fixed.

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Thanks much everyone! 

a portion of it is a parapet, but the crack extends down into the building itself. The crack does not run all the way down the caulk line. I think that the only existing picture of the work is the picture from the bottom up.

Edited by pm124
Added info

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Looks like the brickwork is cantilevered where the cracks are.  Caulking doesn't provide good support for brickwork.

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