Point Load on Brickwork Cracking

Are there any limits as to how close you should have openings to point loads on brickwork walls? I’ve looked through the Australian standards and can’t seem to find any information in regards to how close openings in brickwork can be to the 45 degree spread of load from a point load.

I’ve got a case where large cracks and displacement has occurred besides a door opening to brickwork. Approximately 1 meter away the wall is supporting an ibeam which is supporting upper story brickwork and a portion of the flooring and roof (double story house).

The beam is supported on single brick wall with a pier(single brick 110mm thick). Point load around 50kn.

At this stage I’m thinking the cracks could have been caused by either ground movement or a structural failure of the brickwork. Or, that it has been caused by the lateral thrust produced by the point load. Can’t see how it could be ground movement as there are no trees, surrounding soils or water intrusions that could lead to ground movement.

I’ve also confirmed the beam hasn’t rotated (confirmed with spirit level just now). And, I’m getting a plumbing report done for the pipework within close proximity to confirm that there are no leaks with could be causing localised movement to the supporting footings.

I’ve attached some photos of the crack. Any thoughts would be much appreciated:


In my opinion this has nothing to do with the beam load. The beam load is so small it wouldn’t have any effect on the brickwork unless it was directly over the middle of the door opening and I don’t think the cracking would be in that pattern.

Based on the photo I assume this wall is at the back of the Garage? Therefore I would suspect the cracking is from either:

  • Someone driving their car into the wall. This is most likely the case in my opinion, even if the owner denies it they may be trying to shift the blame onto someone else.
  • If the site is sandy then check for leaking water pipes or stormwater drainage on the outside of the wall. Check compaction along the wall for a length and see if there’s a considerable drop in compaction adjacent to the crack. Also dig under the surface to check for moisture.
  • If the site is clay then possibly downwater pipes draining onto the ground adjacent to the crack, or similar problems.

Above is a snippet.