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Causes and Types of Cracks in Masonry

Buildings and their Repair Methods

There are various causes for various types of cracks in masonry buildings
such as in walls, foundations, slabs, columns. Repair methods of such cracks
in masonry buildings is discussed.

There are certain problems in structures that arise suddenly. Some problems
like crack formation or settlement of foundation wont give a caution before
it appears.

Most of these problems arise due to improper construction method and

carelessness during initial construction. So, care during initial stages can
help avoid such problems that require huge maintenance.

Causes and Types of Cracks in Masonry Buildings and their

Repair Methods
The cracks appear in the masonry structure, at a certain period of time. Most
commonly caused cracks with their respective causes and precaution, are
explained below:

Cracks in Brick Mortar Joints

Vertical or horizontal cracks are seen at the brick mortar joints. One of the
main reason is the sulfate attack, that weakens the mortar. These cracks
mainly appear after 2 to 3 years of construction. These cracks can be
avoided by:

Checking the sulfate content of bricks used in construction

The damping of brick wall has to avoided, as these are more prone to sulfate
attack when it is damp

Fig.1: Cracks Formed in the Brick Mortar Joints

Crack Formation Below the Load Bearing Walls
Cracks are observed below the load bearing walls, mainly those that
supports R.C.C slabs. Now the temperature variation makes the reinforced
concrete slab to expand or contract, but both in the horizontal direction.

These are observed in the Top most story that is more exposed to the
temperature changes. There no smooth contact between the wall and the

Hence the frictional forces are developed at the contact place of the wall and
the slab. This creates cracking in the walls.
The precaution that can be suggested is to provide a bearing plaster over
the brick wall, which helps in having a smooth contact with the floor over it.
If required a bituminous coating can be applied over the plaster applied.

Fig.2: Cracks in Masonry Walls of Multi-Storey Building at Higher Floors

Main Wall and Cross Walls Joint Cracks
Improper bonding between the cross wall and the main wall creates cracks
between the joints. This suggests us to have proper and quality bonding
between the two walls. These are properly done by toothing.

Fig.3: Shear Cracks between Cross Wall and the Main Long Wall of Masonry Building
Fig.4: Tooth connection between the Walls
Cracks Found in R.C.C Columns and Masonry
One of the main reason behind this is the differential movement of the
columns and the masonry because of temperature variation. This variation
can be either expansion or contraction depending upon the temperature.

These cracks can be hidden by making a groove in the reinforced concrete

column and masonry junction. The provision of chicken wire alternatively at
the plaster between the junction of columns and masonry can also help in
this variation.

The Horizontal cracks between R.C.C slab and the brick parapet
The non-projecting slab is mainly subjected to such cracks. This too is due to
the temperature variation and the drying shrinkage. Small micro cracks
formed he propagated with the increase in expansion or contraction.

These cracks can be hidden by making a groove at the masonry junction will
help in hiding the cracks. The provision of chicken wire alternatively at the
plaster junction can also help.

Cracks in Roof Slab

The exposure of roof slab to higher temperature variation cause cracks
numerously. This can be reduced by providing a weather proof course. New
treatment methods and compounds are available as weather course, that is
applied over the terrace.

Repair Methods for Cracks in Masonry Building Structural

Measures to be followed for already appeared cracks are:

1. Application of grouting or uniting for cracks that are appeared in the main
structural members, that cannot be compromised at any cost. The material
mainly used for this is either cement or epoxy mixture. The epoxy has the
ability to fill even small and thin cracks, say as fine as 0.1mm. These epoxy
gain high strength and adhesion.
2. The flexible sealant can be used for cracks that are appeared on the non-
structural members. This helps in having a control over the differential
movement (expansion or contraction) of the member under temperature

3. Epoxy putty, polymer filler or lime cement mortar can be used for filling the
cracks seen in plain cement concrete.

Measures for Foundation Settlement

The unequal settlement of foundation due to the variation of bearing
capacity at different points of the building result in the formation of cracks in
the building. The Certain preventive measure is:

1. The foundation is planned to lay or hard soil

2. Gradual raising of foundation and wall has to be made, for letting the structure
to have an allowable settlement.

3. The settlement value of should not go beyond allowable, under any

combination of loads.

4. The foundation designed should facilitate uniformly distributed pressure on the


Plinth Protection
The unequal settlement of plinth is avoided by removing expansive soils like
black soils (black cotton soil), nearby plinth. This barrier is kept with the
help of sand harries.

Providing drains and flagging concrete help in avoiding rainwater away from
the plinth.

The penetration of roots into the plinth has to avoided. This can be avoided
by stopping the construction of trees that has lateral growing roots nearby.