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plaster cracked, wall dropped by a few mm ?

Discussion in 'Building' started by joeb777, 30 Dec 2008.

  1. joeb777

    joeb777

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    hello, i know nothing about building work/diy so forgive my ignorance, and sorry for the very long post.

    a few months ago i visted my widowed mother and noticed there were cracks in the bathroom tiles above the taps on the bath, and after taking the side off the bath, i could see that the hot water tap was slowly leaking, the gap between the pipes and the wall was only a couple of inches, and the hot water pipe was blocked by the cold tap/pipe, and also i could bearly touch the hot water pipe with my finger tips.

    the hot water pipe goes from the boiler into the kitchen, up the kitchen wall, and then to the bath, the pipe from the boiler was copper but from the kitchen wall it was lead, upto a few inches from the tap, where it was copper again, ( i take it, it must have been a real pain to replace the lead pipe, so thats why it was not replaced.) and from looking at it,the only way i could see of getting to the hot water pipe would be to remove the bath? again i think a major job.

    so for a temporary fix, i went and bought and fitted a gate valve in the kitchen, so she could turn the hot water on/off from the kitchen, so stopping the pipe leaking near the bath, and i told my mom to get a plumber to look at it, she then told me that sometimes drips of water had come from the kitchen ceiling, and it appears that the pipe could have been leaking for a long time..

    a few days ago, i visited her again to take some computer equipment that had been stored in a room next to the bath room, it was fairly heavy equipment and had been there for a year or so, the wall the equipment was stacked against, runs along the bath, and the pipe which was leaking is next to the outside wall/ but also very close to the wall that runs down the side of the bath.

    while moving the equipment i noticed a large diagonal crack (18inches long, a few mm wide) in the wall paper, and looking along the wall there was another small crack just above the door frame and another small crack on the other side of the door frame, upto the ceiling. i pulled some of the wall paper and plaster away, and it looks like the wall has sunk by a few mms, it looks like the bricks are on their side in the wall, also there is a piece of wood that looks like it might go the length of the wall.also there is a crack that it looks like it runs all the way down the wall from where it joins with the outside wall. it looks like the mortar has cracked and not the bricks. and the wall is not supported by bricks underneath as it goes across the kitchen ceiling.

    i'm going to get a surveyor to look at it, but im wondering if she can claim on the insurance as subsidence? does anyone have an opinion of what could have caused this..

    could it be the weight of equipment that was on the floor near the wall, and the weight has caused the floorboard/wall to sink ?

    could it be from the leaking tap and this has caused the wood beams or paster to expanded and the shrink as most of the leak was stopped?

    could it be subsidence ?

    the house is a 100yr old semi detached

    apologises for this long post. i'm just wanted to know what could have caused it, and what do you think are the options, would the wall need rebuilding? or could the cracks be filled and the wall strengthen? , the wall is about 8ft high and 13ft long.

    thanks for any advice or info .
     
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  3. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    From these details, it seems that it is some normal movement and nothing to do with the computer equipment and not subsidence.

    But as you are getting a surveyors report, then you will have to see what this says.
     
  4. joeb777

    joeb777

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    thanks for the reply ^woody^

    you don't think it could be the heavy equipment i stored in the room could cause a problem like that then, as i'm wondering if i am responsible for the damage.


    obviously, you can not see the damage, but what would be the solution, would it be advisable to rebuild the wall, or would it be possible it that the cracks could be filled in ?

    as i said the house is 100yrs old, and i was wondering what is actually holding the wall up, as its an internal wall, which is not supported by a wall underneath, as the wall goes across the middle of the kitchen ceiling.

    do you think its being held up by a wooden joist, as from what i can see from lifting the floor boards in the bathroom,the wall is at 90% to the joists in the bath room.

    thank you again for your help and advice..
     
  5. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    At that time, internal walls were built off the floor joists - either parallel or perpendicular to them.

    This is not normally a problem and everything tends to stay quite stable, but as timber is influenced by moisture or humidity, movement can occur when timber moisture content changes - and your previous leak may have played a part.

    What your surveyor would have to do is, associate the movement of the wall with dampness introduced into the floor joists or air generally, and as the dampness would have been caused by a persistent leak, then if the leak is covered by the insurance, then you have a claim for the damage to the wall ;)

    With regards to the wall, it may never go back to how it was, but as long as its stable, then some mesh across the crack will minimise future cracking - make sure whoever replasters fits some mesh.
    Just filling the crack will most likely lead to it cracking again, so hack off about 150mm each side of the crack and replaster
     
  6. joeb777

    joeb777

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    thanks again for the reply ^woody^

    i've just looked on the outside of the house, where i think the internal wall is, and there are hairline cracks in the mortar on the outside wall of the house where i think the internal wall is, and the hairline crack goes most of the way to the ground. the crack is only where i think the internal wall is and below it, the rest of the outside wall looks crack free.

    would this part of the outside wall need replacing or would just replacing the mortar be ok?

    i know you can not tell me what i should do, as i don't expect anyone to, who has not seen it, but you think it is possible the internal wall could just have mesh put on it and plastered, is it possible that the internal wall could need to be rebuilt, or in most cases this is not required ?


    i'm just wondering about the cost, and what's best to do, if not covered by the insurance policy..

    also are there any risks that the internal wall could fall down? forgive my ignorance as i said i know nothing of construction and building.

    thanks for any help again.
     
  7. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Cracks are not generally a problem unless they appear suddenly and you and get your fingers into them, or if existing ones carry on getting wider

    Most houses have some or other cracking in them.

    Internal walls don't tend to cause cracking to external walls and vice-versa.

    If you can't post an image of the crack in context to the external elevation, then just wait for this surveyor to look at it and report. It does not seem to be a problem from the details posted. The internal wall is on the floor joists, so cracking to the external wall is not normally related to this. Internal walls don't tend to just fall down

    Crack repair depends on the cause and whether the wall is stabilised - ie no ongoing movement. So its not possible to say what repair costs will be. In many cases its just some repointing or a tube of silicone. But hairline cracks to brickwork externally are not worth bothering with
     
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