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STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING COMPONENT ID
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
COLUMNS & POSTS, DEFECTS
CONNECTORS, FASTENERS, TIES
DECK & PORCH CONSTRUCTION
DEFINITIONS of Mobile Home, Doublewide, Modular, Panelized
DEFINITIONS of ENGINEERED WOOD OSB LVL etc
DISASTER BUILDING INSPECTION & REPAIR
EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED FOUNDATIONS
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FOOTING & FOUNDATION DRAINS
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
GRADING, DRAINAGE & SITE WORK
HOUSE PARTS, DEFINITIONS
INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE
KIT HOMES, Aladdin, Sears, Wards, Others
LOG HOME GUIDE
MOBILE HOMES, DOUBLEWIDES, TRAILERS
MODULAR HOME CONSTRUCTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
PORCH CONSTRUCTION & SCREENING
PRE-CUT & KIT HOMES
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
ROT, FUNGUS, INSECT DAMAGE
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION
STRESS SKIN INSULATED PANELS
STRUCTURAL WOOD ASSESSMENT
TIMBER FRAMING, ROT
TRUSSES, Floor & Roof
WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS
Determine active vs. old building foundation or structural movement: This article explains Foundation movement: how to detect & diagnose active movement or movement cracks in a building foundation.
This document describes how to recognize and diagnose various types of foundation failure or damage, such as foundation cracks, masonry foundation crack patterns, and moving, leaning, bulging, or bowing building foundation walls.
Types of foundation cracks, crack patterns, differences in the meaning of cracks in different foundation materials, site conditions, building history, and other evidence of building movement and damage are described to assist in recognizing foundation defects and to help the inspector separate cosmetic or low-risk conditions from those likely to be important and potentially costly to repair.
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MOVEMENT ACTIVE/STATIC - Foundation Movement: Determining Active or Dynamic (ongoing movement) vs. Static (no ongoing movement)
The photo at the top of this page shows a bowed masonry block foundation wall with horizontal cracking that occurred due to earth loading at the time of construction, probably by vehicles driving too close to the foundation wall shortly after it was constructed. At this website we explain how it is sometimes possible to be confident about the cause of foundation damage which in turn helps assess the risk presented to the building.
Photographs of types of foundation cracks and other foundation damage: we have a large library of photographs which we're in process of adding these photographs to this website. Pending completion of that work, contact the author if assistance is required.
How to evaluate the extent and importance of building foundation movement
How to determine the age of foundation cracksLook for clues indicating old vs. new cracks and active vs. static cracks. For example, evidence of repeated repairs (patched, re-cracked, re-patched) is clear indication of recurrent movement. Evidence that a crack occurred at time of construction (in an older house, such as wavy mortar which "bent" in the mortar joints as a wall was loaded) is clear indication of an old condition which may or may not be accompanied by other evidence of later movement.
How to look for evidence of horizontal foundation movement or wall displacement
Horizontal wall movement: Look for evidence of horizontal wall displacement, lateral displacement such as frost push of a masonry block wall. The bottom block course, held in place by the floor slab, may be in the original location while the first course above or higher courses may have been pushed horizontally inwards.
How to evaluate foundation wall leaning, tipping, or bulging
Wall tipping or leaning: Look for evidence of wall tipping or leaning - the entire wall has remained flat but leans inwards at the top.
Wall bulging: Look for evidence of wall bulging, locate the center of the most bulged-in section and note its height above the bottom of the wall and its relative position to the top of grade outside.
How to measure the amount of lean or bulge in a foundation wall
When we find visual or measured evidence of cracking and movement in a masonry foundation wall of any type, there are some diagnostic questions we can ask that help assess the cause of the problem and the urgency of repair actions:
NOTE: without historical data these causes can be difficult to confirm without monitoring. Active movement requires at least monitoring; present or future repair steps likely.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the detection of onging or recurrent foundation or slab movement
Questions & answers on how to determine if foundtation movement or damage is active and ongoing.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
NOTE: Journal of Light Construction articles are available on CD ROM from the Journal of Light Construction, www.bginet.com, 802-434-4747
Opinions herein are the responsibility of the author. Most of this material has been subject to ongoing peer review but is without any professional engineering analysis. Home inspections may include the discovery of defects involving life, safety, and significant costs. Home inspectors who are not both qualified and certain of the authoritative basis of their conclusions should obtain their own expert advice from qualified experts.
This work is also based on the author's construction & inspection experience, training, research, and survey of material from ASHI, and from N. Becker, R. Burgess, J. Bower, D. Breyer, A. Carson, J. Cox, A. Daniel, M. Lennon, R. Peterson, J. Prendergast, W. Ransom, D. Rathburn, E. Rawlins, E. Seaquist, and D. Wickersheimer. Some useful citations are at the end of this paper.