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STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
BRICK FOUNDATIONS & WALLS
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
COLD POUR JOINTS, CONCRETE
COLUMNS & POSTS, DEFECTS
DISASTER BUILDING INSPECTION & REPAIR
EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED FOUNDATIONS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOD DAMAGE TO FOUNDATIONS
FOOTING & FOUNDATION DRAINS
FOOTINGS EXPOSED, Repair Methods
FOUNDATION BULGE or LEAN MEASUREMENTS
FOUNDATION CONSTRUCTION TYPES
FOUNDATION CONTRACTORS, ENGINEERS
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
GRADING, DRAINAGE & SITE WORK
GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS
INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE
MOBILE HOMES, DOUBLEWIDES, TRAILERS
MODULAR HOME CONSTRUCTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
RETAINING WALL GUARD RAILINGS
STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION
STRUCTURAL DAMAGE PROBING
STRUCTURAL WOOD ASSESSMENT
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
TIMBER FRAMING, ROT
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Brick wall cracking due to thermal expansion: this article describes extensive damage caused to brick structures due to thermal expansion of long brick walls lacking expansion joints. How to recognize, diagnose, & evaluate thermal expansion cracks in brick walls &: brick foundations and how to distinguish between this type of cracking failures and other cracks and movement in masonry foundations or walls, such as concrete, masonry block, brick, stone foundation damage due to impact, settlement, frost or water damage, and other causes.
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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Readers of the article series BRICK FOUNDATIONS & WALLS should see these detailed articles on brick veneer walls and brick structural walls: BRICK STRUCTURAL WALL Loose Bulged and BRICK VENEER WALL Loose, Bulged and BRICK WALL DRAINAGE WEEP HOLES and also BRICK WALL THERMAL EXPANSION CRACKS. Also see this close companion article: FOUNDATION CRACK EVALUATION which discusses in detail the process of evaluating foundation cracks and signs of foundation damage by examining the crack size, shape, pattern, and location. See THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS for a table of the coefficient of expansion of common building materials including brick, concrete, mortar, and stone.
Thermal expansion failures in structural or veneer brick walls: is a topic misunderstood by many builders, masons, engineers, architects, and inspectors. As Dave Wickersheimer, R.A. P.E. and masonry failure expert has pointed out, brick "grows" in size indefinitely [though probably most of its size increase is early after it's manufacture.]
But a separate factor that can cause very large movements and extensive damage to brick structures or brick veneer walls is the thermal expansion which occurs across a long or tall brick wall when that wall is heated by sun exposure. The photographs here show significant thermal expansion damage in a long brick structure when we first photographed it in 1989. We visited this site again for an update in June 2007.
This brick veneer wall was built over a concrete block building. The brick veneer was attached using normal steel strap methods and the brick veneer was also reinforced at intervals using a horizontal steel wire. But the wall, more than 100' long, was built without a single expansion joint.
As the south-facing wall of this building heated in summer sun the wall grew in length until it pushed out the East and West building corners at their tops for a total of nearly 3" measured by dropping a plumb line from each building corner. The veneer movement produced a variety of damage, including:
We were surprised that there was not more extensive damage to the structural walls themselves, and we urged the building management to consult an experienced mason for further inspection and repair. We expected the mason to cut vertical expansion joints in the wall and to seal these joints with an appropriate flexible filler material or gasket. No repairs were made, the cracks had grown slightly, and leaks had increased at the time of an informal site inspection and visit we made again in June 2007, as shown in the photographs below.
Here are some factors which determine the extent of thermal expansion damage to a brick wall or structure
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about thermal expansion cracking of brick walls.
Questions & answers or comments about brick wall or foundation cracking caused by theraml expansion .
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