Author Topic: Cracks in new block wall  (Read 4024 times)

Offline Ace

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Cracks in new block wall
« on: March 22, 2007, 07:32:37 PM »
Ok so I'm stealing my own thread. So what! Richzard will put it where he wants it anyway.

To clarify the situation. It's not the slab that is cracking. It's the mortar joints in the blocks. They are cracked in a pattern like as steps. The mortar is very hard is most places but in other places it can be scraped out actually by using your fingernail. The cracks all appear to be isolated on the longest wall which is about 48 feet long and 8 feet high. Not all joints are cracked but a lot of them are. The trusses are set and the roof sheeting is on which has added weight since the blocks were put up. No cracks were apparent until yesterday and it seems more have appeared today even. Now the main guy that owns the business laid the block on the other walls AND the leads which is the corners in layman terms. Two younger men, one being his son of about 23 years and another full time employee of 2 years did the long wall working from the corners to the middle. The blocks are not actually straight either as in on top of each other. Some go in and some go out. Going back to the mortar, and during the time of being constructed, the owner did have another 2 BOYS working that day doing the gopher work. One being his step son and one being his friend that needed to make some extra cash. Both boys are around 17-18. The step son has worked on and off with the owner when needed and has limited experience. The friend was on his very first day. THEY were the ones mixing the mortar after being shown once by the owner. Now my thinking is that the mortar was mixed wrong or "stretched" (more or less of something) causing it to be soft in areas. I don't know for sure since I didn't do it!
Going back to the blocks and the cracks. The cracks are bad enough that if your IN the building you can actually see day light thru the cracks in some places and you don't have to squint to see it. It's plainly there! Also the joints, so I have researched, should be about 3/8 inch wide. Let me tell you that some of these joints between the blocks are 1 inch or more and filled with mortar. Some were gapped so much that they had to cut an end from a block about 1 1/2 wide and slip it in along with mortar.
Now I'm no block mason and never claimed to be. That's why I hired a contractor but, I think I could have done as good if not better that what this has turned out to be.
Ok here's the real clincher! I called him yesterday and told him he needed to come out after working his other job site to discuss some issues with t he building that I was not happy with. He agreed! About 6 pm he shows up and I very rationally tried to discuss what I was concerned with. Here goes! He said everything I showed him was everyday normal! Well that's when the rational discussion became heated as in nose to nose and for all of you that know me, well we won't go there! Anyway, he said call whoever I wanted to call and he would prove to them that he was right and I was wrong!
I called the inspectors office and explained the situation. They came out and looked it over and the guy says to me that you have a right to be concerned and said he would report back to his supervisor. He did and I got a call from him. He said the inspector he sent out said there only cosmetic issues and it was out of their hands and for me to get with the contractor to work it out! I called an unbiased engineer and after explaining in detail the situation he said two words... NOT ACCEPTABLE!
He also went on to say that it could be poor footer prep and earth movement that is causing the cracks more so than poor craftsmanship, though there is plenty of that too. He referred me to another engineer but it is the same one the contractor used.
I guess it is now a waiting game since I pissed him off royally last night. I have taken pictures of everything he has done just in case for future reference!
Oh I forgot to mention that the contractor wanted me to apply this stuff called "Block Filler" right after he got the felt paper on. He said it would smooth out the blocks and keep me from having to use too much paint when the time came to paint it. I refused to do anything to it until an engineer, any engineer says it's ok but I doubt I will find one that will since you can see thru the walls and if they did approve it, it would fall back on them IF anything were to happen!

Ah the joys of moving and starting over!

Ok Richard, now that you have read this long tiring story of me and my woes, you can delete it as usual!

Ace
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Offline JackConrad

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2007, 05:31:47 AM »
Sojourner
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    Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2007, 09:08:03 PM » Quote Modify Remove Split Topic 

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I agree David about being concern about "dry" crack joints. Now you mention it on this "wire" post.....all sand & gravel should be pre-moist days before use as mortar & cement mix. Also pre-moist blocks or concrete joints to achieve good bonding. As well keep fresh bonding damp for days will equal stronger bonding.

I suggest to fill all hollow block with concrete after water sprinkler on block wall to soak for as least till wet inside of block from outer side soaking.

P.S. They should paid for correction via filling block with concrete.

FWIW

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Sojourn for Christ. Jerry
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Offline JackConrad

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2007, 05:33:18 AM »
David Anderson
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     Cracks in new block wall
« on: March 22, 2007, 08:44:27 PM » Quote Modify Remove Split Topic 

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Ace,  I think the redimix plant may have sold you something less than you paid for if you see cracks.  Yea, this may be a whole other thread.  There is no way you should have cracks after such a short time unless your contractor really fouled up. 

Reminds me of a pour a friend did once.  He had an engineer friend show up for a sample to check for psi compression strength.  When the driver saw what was happening he quickly left and went back to the plant.  I wonder why?  I bet this happens to innocent homeowners all the time. 

All you engineer guys, we need to give Ace some advice on this.  I think something is very wrong here.
Sorry to derail your electric wire thread.

David Anderson 
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Offline JackConrad

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2007, 05:35:07 AM »
Ace,
   I moved this to a new thread. Hopefully some engineer types will notice the subject line and give you some good advice.  I kinda messed up transferring the othe post. This is the first time I have tried splitting a post. Sorry about that.  Jack
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Offline Len Silva

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2007, 05:38:59 AM »
Ace, you still have the lawyer that got your money from Turner?  Call today! Don't wait!
Make them remove the trusses, and replace the wall, all four walls if need be.  You are going to have to live with that building for a long time and you will be pissed off every time you walk into it.  That kind of aggravation for the next twenty years or so is just too much stress.

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Offline John E. Smith

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2007, 09:46:39 AM »
I can tell you from experience, the "stair-step" cracking is from soil compression or undermining.  It is definitely a sign of improper site prep -- no experienced brick mason will disagree with me there.  It could also be a sign that the footer wasn't poured thick enough before they started laying the block, or did not allow enough drying time for it before they began laying.

The uneven brick placement and the "daylight" you see is -- quite simply -- shoddy workmanship.  Had the job been done right, there would have been a string stretched taught to give the masons a baseline for placement of the course they were laying -- and I bet they laid the block by eye, didn't they?  Did they even use a level to make sure the course was level?  Probably not, I would guess.

The daylight is caused by skimping on the mortar when buttering the blocks, and makes the wall structurally un-stable.  The only cure for this, short of knocking it down and re-building, is to fill the walls -- with a lot of concrete and a vibratory tamper.  You have to use the tamper to "liquify" the concrete enough to get it all the way to the bottom of the holes in the brick -- otherwise it will well up on narrow spots inside the wall and it won't fill all the way.
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Offline Busted Knuckle

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2007, 10:19:07 AM »
I have to agree 100% with John E. Smith! Many, many moons ago (about 20 yrs) I was a labor foreman for a very large Masonary Co. in Indianapolis, IN where we had 3-4 large scale guberment prevailing wage jobs going at once usually yr round! and serveral other smaller residental crews too! I've seen the best & the worst possible jobs you can imagine! The best mason can not make up for improper prep (although he can hide a lot of the evidence of it, with a lot of careful work!), and the best prep job can not make up for shoddy workmanship! I agree with the sight line needing to be run! The better and more experienced masons will use it to get the base of the wall right. And then use it on occassion as they go up to make sure things are still right. (while using their level all the time to stay true!) There is no way we would have ever tried to get a customer to accept the crap they are trying to pawn of on you! (for one we never would have been paid until the inspectors approved it which in this case would be never!) I say call a lawyer with construction experience and another contractor, and see if you can accidently schedule them to be there at the same time! 
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Offline Ace

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2007, 11:13:39 AM »
Ok while I was out this morning I took the liberty to stop at a new Mid Florida bank that was being built. I mean heck, Susan's BIL is big cheese there so what could it hurt! Anyway I caught the guys while on their break and talked to the mason foreman regarding my situation. He was a little surprised at what I explained and offered to come out to the house during his lunch break and have a look. OK, Free advice so I took him up on it and gave him directions. His first words were WOW but then slowly drifted to it isn't too bad. My question was, is it a structual problem? He said in no way did he think that it was, and one out every ten houses or buildings would develop stair stepping cracks such as mine. Is it a good quality job? He didn't think it was a good job but not a bad job either though he said it was obvious that two different people or crews did the different sides. The mortar joints are consistent on the front and one end where the owner worked but not at all consistent where the other two boys worked hence the wide joints here and there! He also thought that the cosmetics of the job would be covered up after stucco was applied and I mentioned thzat the contractor knew going in that it would be painted only. He was then surprised that the contractor didn't "strike" the joints! Me too!
Oh well a call has been made to the contractor to see what his next move is and he said Saturday he would install the shingles IF they got delivered today and was informed that the cracks and joints needed to be fixed once and for all and he agreed! How he will do it is up to him I guess!

Here are some pics of the problem areas so you can see for yourself. Maybe I'm being too picky and there really isn't any problem at all!

http://groups.msn.com/AceRossiMotorsports/newworkshoppics.msnw?Page=Last

Ace
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Offline TomCat

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2007, 02:24:02 PM »
Ace,

It would seem to me that if you paid a price worthy of a journeyman's skills and experience, then that's what you should receive for that price.
If however, part of the masonry work (substandard) was done by helpers or unskilled sons of the business owner, then the finished price should reflect that.

I'll be in court over the next few months debating this same argument with the man who painted my bus.

Jay
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Offline Ace

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2007, 02:45:56 PM »
Yea Jay I know! The problem is the owner is the one I contracted to do the job. I went on not only his price which was within or pretty close ofthe other estimate I had. I knew OF him thru bowling many (20 or so) years ago, and have seen him still in business since then here locally, and seen and chatted with him out in restaurants and such. Seemed like a nice guy and being in business that long kind of meant something to me so I hired him. I didn't know anything about his crew or his son for that matter. Didn't even know it WAS his son until his son told me!
The pictures say it for themselves. I'm not making it up! I DO know the part HE did looks great with NO problems which is the front and side closest to the house. The other side and rear of the building look like crap! Painting it will only magnify the problem areas and only other solution to hide the bad work is to stucco it to match the house!

The RIGHT shingles came today so we'll see what happens tomorrow!

Ace
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Offline airless

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2007, 03:45:47 PM »
Can you get the building inspector to reject it and not pass the work?

Offline muddog16

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2007, 04:14:00 PM »
Good grief Ace, those pictures tell it all, if the foreman from the other job said that it was a good looking job, he needs new glasses, I'd say other than crappy work the mortar wasn't mixed correctly!  "HOLD THE CHECK"! 
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Offline Ace

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2007, 08:01:41 AM »
Dog, the other forman didn't say it was a good job. He said it was an ok job but that only lasted until he got to the back and then he changed his mind!

They are out here today putting on the soffit and shingles. Nothing has been said to me from any of them. Susan told the owner yesterday that the cracks and joints needed to be fixed and her agreed they would be but that didn't appear to be a priority today!

I guiess time will tell!

Ace
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Offline bobofthenorth

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2007, 10:03:01 AM »
I'm sorry Ace but he can't FIX cracks in concrete (unless he plans to inject epoxy which I seriously doubt).  Your options are:

1) fill the blocks with concrete which may be problematic if the courses are so out of line that the voids don't line up
2) live with it
3) putty over the cracks so you don't see them
4) start over.

Glad its you who has to make the decision.   :-\

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They learn from the mistakes of others.

Offline Ace

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Re: Cracks in new block wall
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2007, 06:37:35 AM »
Bob everyone I talk to says that the cracks can be fixed. The problem is, the contractor hasn't done anything with them yet though he said he would.

Yesterday, we had a big race to work at USA speedway and couldn't be here but when we got home, we saw the architectual shingles were installed. From what I can see they look pretty good! I DID notice that the one crack that I could see daylight thru has now grown to 4 cracks in a stair pattern downward, that can ALL be seen thru. THAT area I know has worsened since the day before!

We still owe him the final draw and "I" really want to hold it until.... but Susan just wants it done and over with! I personally think I'm going to have a hard time with this guy! He is loud and intimidating to his workers and I expressed that he couldn't intimidate me like he does them, so we'll see! That was during our heated moment the evening before last! Nothing has been said up to this point except a "good Morning" from him when they showed up yesterday! I grumbled back, "I guess" and went about my business with "Bud" and soon left for the race track!

Time will tell...

Ace

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