Horizontal crack along both sides of an exterior wall

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Horizontal crack along both sides of an exterior wall

Post by seabreezes » Sun May 12, 2019 6:36 pm

I'm not sure if I'm describing the problem properly, I'm helping my mother arrange some repairs and I am not the most handy person. I don't have quite the right vocabulary.

I'm trying to determine the best type of contractor/engineer to have come out and have a look at this for us.

I had a contractor over to offer an estimate to repair some stucco cracks and broken parging on the exterior of my mother's house. When he was over, we both noticed that along a wall that is only exterior (which runs parallel to the front entrance/steps on one side and parallel to the driveway on the other side and supports that side of the roof) there was a pretty thick horizontal crack leading to a vertical crack, at which point that part of the wall/foundation/I'm not sure has been pushed out away from the house. The odd thing is, the crack stops EXACTLY where the house begins. There are no other cracks along any other wall. This wall does not go to the basement. I've looked around our basement (which is finished) and there are no signs of leaks or mold or anything suspicious. There have never been any leaks or anything in our basement, either. Our doors and our windows close fine.

The contractor recommended that we get a structural engineer out to have a look and figure out what is causing the issue. I'm having trouble finding a structural engineer in my city (Edmonton, AB) and figuring out how to exactly describe the situation. I've contacted a few businesses that fix cracks in foundations, but the one reply I have had so far is asking to see the crack in our basement... which he can't do because that wall is not part of our basement! Is there a name I can use to describe that type of wall, is there a better way to describe this problem? I've contacted a few foundation contractors to get a quote, because they work with structural engineers. Is this a bad idea? Should I just find a structural engineer that is independent somehow? If it's not a foundation/structural issue... what else could it be? Could it be caused by the shrubs we have growing there?

I'm starting to panic a bit and worried that this will cost an absurd amount of money to fix. Any advice is appreciated!
crack-01.jpg (175.59 KiB) Viewed 158 times
crack-02.jpg (195.8 KiB) Viewed 158 times
House.jpg (25.83 KiB) Viewed 158 times

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A. Spruce
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Re: Horizontal crack along both sides of an exterior wall

Post by A. Spruce » Sun May 12, 2019 8:54 pm

The horizontal crack is pretty typical at the foundation/sill plate joint. It's possible that there is movement, but there would be similar cracking of the foundation itself if it was the portion moving.

The vertical crack looks to be a foundation crack, which isn't uncommon either, the question here is whether it's a tree/shrub root doing the damage or if it's simply time taking it's toll. If the foundation were of serious concern, there would be other signs as well, such as more severe cracking at or around the initial crack, cracking of interior drywall, floor undulation, etc.

Not sure what the last pic is showing.

IMHO, while a foundation specialist might know a little more about the cause and repair of the cracking, any experienced general contractor worth their salt should also be able to assess whether the cracking is mostly cosmetic or whether there are structural concerns at play. I would start with a foundation contractor or general contractor and see what they say. Both of these individuals should have access to structural engineers if such a consult is necessary, for you to call a structural engineer, it's going to cost you.
If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

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Re: Horizontal crack along both sides of an exterior wall

Post by Clarence » Mon May 13, 2019 5:53 am

You don't have a big problem with those cracks.
Photo # 1 that crack is caused buy the thickness change in the Stucco it is caused by the dimensional changes Stucco will crack along it's weakest plane note you have textured Stucco the weak plane will be the thinner part of the Stucco.
Photo # 2 is a Structural crack caused by foundation movement a good Stucco contractor can repair it but if the foundation moves it will reappear.
Photo # 3 Could be for any of the followings reasons
1 Warped Stud cause by load , Humidity or Deflection of the wall. it may also be the seam of the metal Lath.
Think of Stucco like this if it comes in a sack it will crack.

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Re: Horizontal crack along both sides of an exterior wall

Post by Shannon » Mon May 13, 2019 7:54 am

Yes I agree ,those cracks are likely more cosmetic issues then huge structural problems. Its kinda tough to tell through all the shrubs in the pictures . They are likely to re appear even if the stucco is repaired. I would be more tempted to seal with a product like Big Stretch caulking in a grey colour . This will keep moisture out and they are likely unseen once the foliage fills in again.

I'm not sure what picture 3 is showing? A twisted 4x4 supporting the roof overhang ..maybe?? Oh wait this is the end of the wall in question! I see things clearly now. So this support wall is not likely any part of the basement or house foundation. It should be on some kind of concrete pile or footing though. These cracks are almost surely no huge issue IMO. They stop right at the corner of the house because this is moving a little and the house is not. I would bet there is a gap between the step and this wall? Are you getting some freeze/thaw snow melt in that crack that is Jacking the wall over a bit each year maybe and it has finally moved enough to cause the cracking on other side?I would also use the big stretch on that gap.
Lets see a picture along the step.
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