Vertical cracks through bricks

16 Oct 2016
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United Kingdom
Hi all, hope you can help.

We have a 1950s semi with three cracks in the walls; one under the front room window, and two in the end wall;

1) A long vertical crack in the end wall, above and below the upstairs window, mostly following the mortar but has cracked through two bricks - pics;

2) More of a stepped crack below the window in the same wall as (1); starts out stepped, then turns vertical and has also cracked bricks. There appears to be a separation of the bricks directly above the window as well. Pics;

3) A vertical crack in the adjoining main wall, below the living room window (but not above). Pics;

All of the cracks are associated with double-glazed windows but are also close to/in the same wall as drains, and none of them reach as far as the damp course. All are 1-3mm. There is that separation of bricks above (2) and visible bowing to the window frame with (3), so I'm wondering about bad double glazing without a suitable lintel, but I really don't know.

So far we've had one structural repair company take a look (waiting for their report), but of course just getting the cracks fixed doesn't solve the problem, and I'm thinking I should have stuck to my initial plan of getting a specific defect report done by a proper structural engineer. The repair company suggested getting the drains surveyed, which looks like it will cost about £200. My worry is that we do this, and if no issue is found, we still don't have an answer. The quote for repair will be just that of course; won't speak to the causes. Our soil type appears to be 'freely draining lime-rich loamy soil'; I have no idea if that's susceptible to subsidence or not.

Do you think I should get a specific defect report carried out? I assume if the drains are suspected in that, we'd then be looking at getting the drain survey done anyway.

Or should I stick crack gauges on the three cracks and monitor them?

And does anyone have a view on the likely cause?

Many thanks for taking the time to read this.
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