Cracked Mortar around exterior brick..Is this a big problem?

southernmumMarch 3, 2011

Not sure if this is the best category/forum to ask this, but needing advice. We're considering buying a house that is well maintained, gorgeous, etc. but have found one visible problem. There are a few places on the exterior of the home where the mortar around some of the bricks appears to be cracked. Just around three or four bricks, but the cracks do go both horizontally and vertically around the brick shape. The house is about 25 years old. Is this just normal wear and tear/age, or could this be a red flag? Of course if we purchase it, we will get it professionally inspected, but I wanted to get some opinions here before we proceed in possibly writing up an offer. Thanks for any advice!

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Guess I should add the cracks are sort of a stair-shaped crack. Maybe this helps visualize what I'm talking about better. Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 7:15PM
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Could you provide a picture?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 10:58PM
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Are they hairline or wide?

Cracks can be from settling and if you're in an area with clay soil this is very common when the clay dries out and shrinks vs. when it is wet it expands. To avoid this you can water around the foundation so it never dries out.

Do doors open/close fine without sticking in the house. Any cracks in the drywall or anything else to indicate possible settling?

Only if the cracks are wide would I stay away from making an offer. If not I'd make an offer and then I'd hire a structural engineer to look at it as part of the inspection.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 1:18AM
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Typically home inspectors say if the cracks are "stair shaped", there is nothing to worry about, however, I would have them checked out for myself by a qualified individual before getting into contract.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 8:17AM
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They're definitely hairline cracks -- not too wide. I do not have a picture of it, and feel a little weird going back to the homeowner to take a photo of it! You would have to zoom in way close to see them. It took me several times of looking at the house before I noticed it. The best I can say to describe the way it looks is truly just the outline of steps, going up about three bricks high. Kind of like when you draw "steps" using an Etch-a-Sketch toy! Thanks for the advice! Oh, and it's up high, on the second story. Not at the base of the house.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 9:15AM
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After 25 years, it's unlikely to be of any significance. It takes only the slightest settlement or shifting to crack mortar in a veneer brick home. To camouflage the crack and limit water intrusion you can use similar coloured caulk.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 9:46AM
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It could indicate foundation problems. Is the house on a slab? You might want to have the foundation checked out. It's possible that it's been fixed but they never fixed the cracks.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 11:04AM
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