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Property Surveying Blog

June 17, 2019

Typical Wall Defects

Written by Sadek Miah

In this Blog post I will be discussing typical wall defects and some of the causes.

The walls of a building serve several different functions to the stability of a building. Each wall that is constructed must be able to tolerate a varied amount of load and movement that may occur across its lifespan.

Whilst walls fulfil a vital aspect of a building as a whole, they do have many weaknesses that range from minor fixes to detrimental to the integrity of a building.

The main functions of a wall consist of the following;

  • Supporting floor and roof loads and transferring them to the foundations.
  • To give environmental protection to the internal areas of the building.
  • To define separate areas of use within a building

Some common issues and defects you may find with walls can be seen below:

Bulging Walls

Walls can bulge for many different reasons. Some are simply down to poor design and construction resulting in distortion and eventually bulging.

Another issue that can cause bulging in walls is when a large tree is located beside a building. Tree’s get larger over time and in turn grow deeper roots, the roots can interfere with the foundations of a wall and result in destabilising the foundations and wall.

Spalling Brickwork

The main cause of spalling of brickwork is water. Water can erode surfaces and weaken the brickwork over time.

The external face of a wall will most certainly get wet due to the weather as it is inevitable.

They are built to withstand the weather and house the inner sections of the building. Over the course time the effects of the weather; rainfall, snow and frosting in particular will have a negative impact on walls as they will degrade the brickwork, the brickwork will absorb more moisture and ultimately lessen the strength of the brickwork by crumbling away.

Wall Tie Failure

Wall ties are used to join two skins of cavity wall together and carries great importance in the stability of a wall.

It is quite common for wall tie failure to occur; they are prone to rusting – if they are not properly protected, moisture can travel along the tie and cause oxidisation which can further lead to cracking occurring in the brickwork and in turn cause destabilisation to the wall.

Chimney Breast Removal

When undertaking a chimney breast removal it is important to go about this in the correct way as this can lead to further structural defects throughout the property. It is important that the correct mechanism is installed in place to ensure that the remaining load of the chimney stack is sufficiently supported.

Typical forms of support for the remaining load of the chimney stack are steel beams or Gallows Brackets.

When a building owner is carrying out a chimney breast removal it is common to find hairline cracks on the face or around the junctions of the chimney beast on the adjoining owner’s side if it is a semi detached or a terraced property.

These cracks typically appear from the vibrations from the removal of the chimney breast from the building owner’s side.

If you think your property is suffering from some type of defect, I would recommend speaking to a Surveyor at the first instance, they will be able to inspect and advise you of exactly what is going on!

If you are purchasing a property and you believe it to be suffering from these types of issues, I would recommend having a RICS HomeBuyer Report or Full Building Survey undertaken. That will ensure all of the defects are picked up and reported to you pre purchase.