If your building has been existing for a while, there is a high chance that it has developed certain cracks here and there, which needs to be repaired. Getting cracks repaired can be easy to complex and expensive depending on what kind of cracks the building has developed and in what areas.
Even if you are planning to construct a new building, it is important to educate yourself about reasons behind building cracks. This is because many times buildings develop cracks because of errors made during the construction phase. By educating yourself about different causes of cracks you can eliminate chances of developing cracks before the building starts to age. Here are some of the common causes of cracks and how they can be repaired.
- Cracks due to Expansion
One of the most common types of cracks that may develop in a building is expansion cracks. The materials used in the building may respond to changes in heat and moisture and as a result, may expand and contract as the temperature changes. This process of expansion and contraction makes the building more vulnerable to cracking. Expansion cracks can be easily differentiated from other types of cracks as such cracks have a consistent width throughout the cracks.
Expansion cracks are not very serious in nature and may not require immediate attention. If you are looking for a cheaper solution, then the cracks can easily be sealed by filling in a mastic compound. However, this might not be a permanent solution as the cracks might reoccur over a period of time. It is therefore recommended that you use expansion joints that require filling the walls with a compressible material that can withstand the changes in temperature and humidity.
- Cracks In Openings
Openings are highly prone to cracks due to various reasons. One of the most common causes behind openings to crack is reopening of window frames for repairs or pipe installations without propping. The lintel is wrongly pushed and eventually results in the brickwork to collapse. The best solution is this case is to set the lintel again and rebuild the brickwork followed by fitting the windows again.
Opening cracks also tend to appear due to incorrect bearings. Lintels need to overhang at a minimum bearing of 6 inches on each side. Anything less than 6 inches will cause the lintel to drop and will result in cracks. In this case, lintels will need to be replaced at the correct bearings.
- Load Above The Opening
Each type of lintel has its own ability to bear a certain degree of load. Cracks due to loads are more common on floors directly below the roof since heavy roof purlins are installed directly above the windows. If the lintel material is not capable enough to take the load, it will cause the lintel to break and cracks to appear. Lintel repair is highly recommended in this case.
- Nonexistent Lintels
For some reason, certain builders do not install any lintels under the masonry as they believe the window frames are enough for the support. This leads to cracking due to the absence of the required support that only lintels can provide. The only solution to this problem is installing new lintels and filling the cracks. Be cautious while choosing the material of your lintels and make sure they are strong enough to hold the weight of your masonry or roof purling.
- Damaged Wall Ties
Wall ties are installed in crick and cavities in order to hold the outside of the brickwork to inside in a secure bond. These ties are made of metal and are prone to rust over a period of time. When these metal tie rust they fail to hold the bond and start to expand resulting in cracks. This is one of the serious types of cracks as it can cause the walls to collapse if the problem is not addressed. The best solution to this problem is to install new wall ties.
Cracks caused due to subsidence or motion of the surface are the most serious types of cracks and can possibly cause the hold building structure to collapse. There are countless reasons that can cause subsidence cracks such as a mining activity going on in the vicinity, running sand or surface runoff, leakage in underground drainage, clay subsoil etc. regardless of what the reason is, the result will always be the movement in the foundation of the building, which is something very dangerous. There are no short-term quick fixes to address these cracks. It is strongly recommended that a structural engineer should be consulted for advice if your property has cracked due to subsidence activity.
- Ground Heave
Cracks that develop due to ground heaving are similar to subsidence crack in nature. They usually develop due to the expansion of clay subsoil or mass removal of trees around the house. In this case, it is advised to deepen the foundation of the building and remove the clay from the foundation of the building as much as possible.