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Renovations
 There are various types of cracks.

Settlement cracks happen as the house “settles” on to its foundation. They are often in the form of “stair step” cracks and diagonal cracks extending upwards from window and door lintels. Cosmetic repairs such as new paint or crack repair will not permanently fix problems caused by expansive soil.
Repairing cracks

First, remove all debris and excavate the crack down to firm material. Use a flexible crack filler or mortar mix to fill the crack. If you think the crack has resulted from movement which is likely to continue, then you could try to reinforce the wall across the cracked area. This can be done by strengthening the plastered area with a plaster lathe (metal or plastic mesh) or by a technique known as “metal stitching”. Here lengths of metal rod (rebar) are fixed across the crack with epoxy before the crack is filled and the area plastered.

Leaking around windows
 
Cracking around windows can cause leaking and water coming into the walls, creating cracks in exterior walls which then penetrate internally.
 
The main cause of leaking around windows is that the windows have not been installed properly.

Basically all sides and bottom of the window should have a length of damp proof course fitted and this should then be built into the surrounding brickwork and cills. Trying to rectify this after the event is no easy task and will often cause more problems.

As long as the cracks are not being caused by movement, then the best method is to seal the cracks with a flexible filler around the window frames.

It is a waste of time and money to do any internal repairs or remedial work until the external walls have been properly sealed and the internal walls have dried out completely. This can take anywhere up to six months depending on the amount of water in the walls.
 
From an article in the Cape Argus 
 
I can inspect and identify problems with the cracks in your home and roof and report on the condition of the structure and whether the cracks might be active or non-active and danger to you and your family. 
Plaster Repairs >
Most houses in South Africa will sooner or later develop wall cracks. Few are serious, and can be ascribed to slight settlement of the foundations, mortar shrinkage, or slight roof movement. However, some cracks can be potentially serious and are the result of significant foundation displacement, water penetration, or excessive roof movement.

The most common reasons for cracking of brick walls are settlement, thermal expansion, moisture penetration and roof movement.

The National Home Builders Registration Council classifies cracks as follows:

Less than 1mm in crack width is very slight. Normal decoration will sort it out.

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What to do about cracked walls

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