So, you’ve got an old house with a few cracks in the walls. We understand that. We also know that it’s terribly worrying for any homeowner. Is there something wrong with the foundation? Is there something missing in the supports? Could my house blow over in the next big wind storm? Okay, that might be pushing it a bit. Still, we understand that you don’t want cracks in your walls and that you’ll do everything you can to fix - or hide them. Except, there are several mistakes you can make along the way and you really do want to consider all these mistakes carefully before you get going with repairs - especially if cracks started to form as a result of an addition or any other renovation to the structure.
5. Applying Pressure to the Mortar
We know, the further you push that mortar into the crack, the better it is. We also know that when you apply a lot of pressure, condensing the mortar so that “it stays put this time”, you are effectively setting yourself up for failure. You don’t need to cram it in; you need to apply it. There’s something in that which suggests a gentler approach to masonry work than you might have expected. In any case, this pressure is NOT what your wall needs.
4. Removing Masonry Finishes Inadvertently
If you spotted a few cracks and thought you’d just remove all the plaster, paint or finish and start again, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. You see, a crack represents an area of damage; the rest of the wall is in order. Do you really want to mess with that? The answer is, not unless you are a professional. The chances are that you will weaken the masonry work of the rest of the wall when you do that. It’s something that needs to be dealt with as delicately as possible.
3. Not Binding Additions Properly
If the reason you see cracks in your masonry work is because of additions you’re putting on an existing structure, you need to be REALLY careful. Whether you are building upwards or outwards, you probably need to employ additional levels of support as well as matching your mortar. You cannot usually proceed as if you were building the entire structure from scratch. This has to do with weight bearing even more than convenience or design. If you or your builder hasn’t mentioned supports, you can expect further problems.
2. Calling for Foundation Repair
Okay, so there are cracks in your walls; it does not mean that you need to level your foundation. No foundation is perfect. And because of the way your masonry has settled, you’ll be causing more problems if you do this. However, if your foundation is weak or damaged, you need a team that can deal with both the foundation AND the masonry repairs. And, you need to call them in soon; at this point, it is already critical.
1. Not Looking for Underlying Problems or Causes
This is the mistake that too many homeowners make, and it’s not funny in the least. Some people look at the cracks in their walls and think to themselves, “it’s not a big deal; the house is just settling.” Yes, it could be that - or it could be that your walls can’t handle the load, it’s not balancing properly, or the foundation is cracked to the point of disaster. One small crack might be settling (or shoddy plaster work), more than that, and you need to bring in a team. This is one mistake you really don’t want to make.