"When home inspectors who call every brick veneer and concrete block foundation wall crack 'a settlement crack!'"
Apparently, they have no knowledge of either building material or construction, for that matter!
On our website you will find an article entitled the Top 5 Causes of Brick Veneer Cracks. Yes, there are even more causes!
When concrete cures, it shrinks as the water evaporates from the wet concrete. You may see small cracks in the mortar joints on block walls (similar to the picture shown).
Concrete block foundation walls will naturally crack every 10 to 20 feet simply due to shrinkage. The actual spacing of such shrinkage cracks depends on the moisture content of the block when installed, the amount of the block's linear shrinkage, and the humidity in the area where it is installed. Unless joint steel is provided in the horizontal mortar joints, the block walls will always develop shrinkage cracks. Just like concrete slabs on grade without welded wire reinforcement.
So, you tell me: Why do nearly all home inspectors call brick veneer and concrete block wall cracks, settlement cracks?
Answer: It's simply ignorance.
So, the next time you hear them say this, or read their report when they say this, ask them how they know they are due to settlement.
Ask them to show you the corresponding settlement cracks inside the home.
If they can't, you may want to suggest they spend some time learning about their trade and why these materials crack naturally!
At JADE, we understand the engineering and science behind the construction of brick and concrete block walls. We don't automatically conclude that concrete cracks are resulting from foundation problems. As a matter of fact, it has been our experience that 95% of the cracks we're called upon to inspect are only cosmetic issues... not the results of catastrophic foundation failure.