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What caused these cracks?


palmettoinspect
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Hey guys got a quick question I did a home last week and got brick cracks at the front garage window lintels, the garage door lintel and rear french door lintel. I called it sagging lintel at the rear french door and minor to normal settlement at the garage window and doors. Lintels are installed at all windows and doors. The home is well built in the late 60's in Charleston South Carolina. The garage door and rear french doors didnt concern me as much as the front garage window did.

My issue is the seller wants to meet tomorrow and go over the cracks he said they are caused by rusted lintels.

What do yall think any input would be nice.

Thanks

Kiel

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Yes, rusted and delaminated lintels.

We call it *lintel jack* up here. The steel rusts, delaminates, and expands outward w/thousands of pounds of force. Very slowly, but very firmly.

The vertical flange on the angle iron is probably totally gone, or at minimum, badly delam'ed. It's not sagging lintels, it's warped/delam'ed/rusted lintels.

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Originally posted by kurt

Yes, rusted and delaminated lintels.

We call it *lintel jack* up here. The steel rusts, delaminates, and expands outward w/thousands of pounds of force. Very slowly, but very firmly.

The vertical flange on the angle iron is probably totally gone, or at minimum, badly delam'ed. It's not sagging lintels, it's warped/delam'ed/rusted lintels.

Kurt,

In photo 2, how would this expansion shear the brick that are above the lentel? I can understand such force on the brick that is not supported by the lentel.

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Originally posted by charlieb

Originally posted by kurt

Yes, rusted and delaminated lintels.

We call it *lintel jack* up here. The steel rusts, delaminates, and expands outward w/thousands of pounds of force. Very slowly, but very firmly.

The vertical flange on the angle iron is probably totally gone, or at minimum, badly delam'ed. It's not sagging lintels, it's warped/delam'ed/rusted lintels.

Kurt,

In photo 2, how would this expansion shear the brick that are above the lentel? I can understand such force on the brick that is not supported by the lentel.

That is the reson I called it "normal to minor settlment" One more thing I might add this house is marsh front so hairline cracks in bricks is pretty common but the gap that I saw in the 1st picture made me a little concerned. AND this is a "sellers inspection: paid for by the listing agent. That is why the home owner wants to "talk" about the cracks.

Kiel

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Originally posted by charlieb

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Kurt,

In photo 2, how would this expansion shear the brick that are above the lentel? I can understand such force on the brick that is not supported by the lentel.

It's lintel, not lentel.

The damage can be all sorts of ways. The lintel is warping, twisting, rusting, lifting, and probably settling in there too.

There's no need to open the wall to find out what the problem is. The problem is obvious. Also, by the time you open up the wall you are 7/8's of the way to fixing it anyway, so just put in a new lintel, wrap it in flashing and be done with it. It's not going to do anything fast. It's going to keep doing what it's doing very slowly. Inexorably, glacial paced, but inevitable.

This is Masonry 101. You know all that flashing we are (supposed to be) recommending over windows? This is why. Isolate the lintel from moisture, it doesn't rust. Install it directly in masonry without any protection or flashing, and they rust out.

I think there are also very distinct differences in quality of steel. Some of the newer steel I see rusts badly in a year, while some of the really old "blue" steel is 75 years old and still in satisfactory condition.

Could've been some crappy steel back in the 60's, which would accelerate the process.

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Kurt,

I recommend lintel replacement occasionally, but have never actually seen one that has been replaced. I assume one uses the original bricks, if possible. But what about matching the mortar that's absorbed particulates from the air for decades?

Are the repaired areas glaringly obvious?

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There are many reasons for cracks. I think Kurt is right in this case but I have also seen some unusual shear cracks caused when an overspanned lintel or girder deflects in the middle and there is uplift at the ends. (You can see a simple example of this type of uplift with two pencils and a plastic straw by setting the straw on the pencils that are laying about an inch in from the ends and pressing down on the middle of the straw).

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Originally posted by Bain

Kurt,

I recommend lintel replacement occasionally, but have never actually seen one that has been replaced. I assume one uses the original bricks, if possible. But what about matching the mortar that's absorbed particulates from the air for decades?

Are the repaired areas glaringly obvious?

Because the new mortar doesn't match the old, it's easy to pick them out. Even with a decent match, you can generally spot them if you're paying attention.

Or, they repoint the whole building. Unfortunately, around here that usually means some "mason"(part-time dog-walker and roller-rink cashier) smeared mortar over the old joints.

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Funny thing about lintel repair is that few contractors want to do the work that's necessary. They simply remortar the spreading joint and fail to recognize (or hope that no one catches on) that the lintel is going to continue it's expansion. No matter what, a proper repair is going to involve hauling that lintel out.

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Originally posted by Bain

Kurt,

I recommend lintel replacement occasionally, but have never actually seen one that has been replaced. I assume one uses the original bricks, if possible. But what about matching the mortar that's absorbed particulates from the air for decades?

Are the repaired areas glaringly obvious?

I've seen buildings where >100 lintels were replaced and you could never tell, and I've seen a single lintel replaced where you could see it from 2 blocks away.

It's about who's doing the work. A nice clean job will be almost indistinguishable from the original.

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A good mason can match up almost anything. If you see him about to pour water on plain ready mix and get to work, your doomed. Trick is mixing the mortar yourself using the appropriate sand (type, color & grade) to match the old stuff and if needed just to tweek it a little dye when nobody's lookin. just to make up for the pollution factor. Of course all that is going to cost more which is why it doesn't happen 99% of the time.

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Kurt said:

"...Could've been some crappy steel back in the 60's, which would accelerate the process."

In the early sixties, maybe even 1960, I remember a big steel strike that resulted in cars having really thin bodies, apparently due to short supplies. Car bodies were where the design and sales differences were then, and I remember noticing how floppy the engine hoods were on those big boats.

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