Cracked bricks on residential properties can be unsightly and often indicate underlying structural problems. In some cases, they can be severe enough to render a home unsaleable due to the cost of repairs. Unfortunately, cracks in commercial structures are often far more significant since commercial buildings are often much larger and may require more skilled repair techniques.
However, identifying and repairing cracks in a commercial structure is even more important since issues with your building's foundation may put your employees, customers, and bystanders at risk. While you'll often need a qualified engineer or brickwork contractor to evaluate any crack in your building, these three warning signs may indicate an underlying foundation problem requiring repair.
1. Noticeably Growing Cracks
The top sign of a structural crack in any building or any material is an "active" crack. An active crack will grow over time, gradually getting worse and wider. In bricks, active cracks can often be relatively easy to spot since the bricks may pull away from the mortar filling the gaps between them. You may notice these gaps widening and small chunks of mortar falling away or dropping out.
While cracks can sometimes appear to worsen due to water damage, any active crack is a cause for concern and may even be an immediate hazard. If you've noticed cracks in your walls growing over several weeks, months, or years, it's critical to call in a contractor as soon as possible to evaluate the wall and determine if your structure's foundation requires repairs.
2. Stair Step Cracks
Stair step cracks often occur near the corners of a structure, and they're more common in brick than in other types of walls or foundation materials. Stair step cracks often occur due to a differential in forces on the wall, such as part of the foundation settling at a more advanced rate or local conditions causing the soil to shift unexpectedly.
Not every stair step crack is an emergency, but it's not worth taking chances with large commercial structures. If your building appears to be developing a stair step crack, even if it doesn't seem to be worsening, it's important to have a qualified engineer or contractor assess the situation. Since these cracks can indicate major structural issues, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
3. New Cracks in Old Walls
Brick is an excellent choice for many commercial buildings because of its longevity and durability. However, it can also provide warning signs of impending trouble for older structures. While small cracks will sometimes develop due to initial foundation settlement on newer buildings, the sudden appearance of cracks on older masonry is usually a flashing red warning sign.
If you notice cracks beginning to appear in older walls, don't wait to contact an expert to investigate the situation. A new crack in an old wall always indicates an active situation, and it's a problem that will require repair sooner rather than later.
Reach out to a business that offers commercial cracked brick foundation repair for more information.