Crack Monitors


For Berntsen’s Rhonda Rushing and myself, the world of surveying is never far from sight––a fact that couldn’t be clearer following a recent weekend getaway to one of Dubuque’s oldest and most storied landmarks.


Nestled in the heart of the city’s historical district, the Hancock House Bed & Breakfast is one of a handful of 19th century buildings that keep the city’s vibrant history alive today, and after sitting down with owner Chuck Huntley, we quickly realized we shared a unique connection with those working to keep that rich history intact.


Preserving history with modern surveying tools

After poking around online, Chuck came upon Berntsen’s selection of crack monitors and decided to show us how equipment like this was playing a key role in the preservation efforts in the area. Leading us to a tunnel where a series of crack monitors lined the aging walls, the need for monitoring was clear. 

The tunnel sat beneath a high-traffic roadway and ran through a large stone wall dating back to the 1800s. 

The century-old wall had slowly been pushed out over the years due to pressure from the hillside and road which runs directly over the supporting arch above. During reconstruction, Chuck explained, the road had been re-built. The massive stones which lined its walls were replaced or moved back into their original positions and crack monitors were installed over cracks in the walls and ceiling arch. The goal of the repair effort was to ensure safety and stability while leaving original stones and archways undisturbed in their original state.


Survey Monitoring

Since the project’s completion, none of the cracks in questions have shown any progression or movement, providing the team with the crucial evidence needed to prove the walls were in fact stable and safe to traverse. 

No matter who you are, one look at the tunnel puts things in perspective. The immense size of the stones are enough to make anyone wonder just how difficult it was to move them from the quarry to the site and place them into position without the use of modern power equipment.


Manpower, horsepower, and a thorough understanding of the processes involved were all it took to plan and construct the structures that still capture our imagination today.


The importance of crack monitoring


Crack monitors aren’t just for preserving historical sites. Just about every building sustains cracking after years of pressure and strain, and while most don’t pose a threat, some do indicate serious problems. At the very least, severe cracking can devalue property even if the damage is purely cosmetic. Identifying the cracks that require your attention is the first step in the repair process. 

The Tell-Tale crack monitor is by far the most popular device used on cracks large and small. Our Avonguard Standard Tell-Tales provide precise resolution and interpolation to detect even the slightest changes in size over time. Whether you’re dealing with horizontal or vertical cracking, the Tell-Tale is the ideal option not only for monitoring, but ensuring repair work is effective after the work is done.


To learn more about our selection of crack monitors, click here to browse our product page or request a catalog.


For those that find themselves in Dubuque, be sure to keep an eye out for the long stone wall and pedestrian tunnel overlooking the downtown area near Locust Street. And no matter what, be sure to spend a night at the Hancock House B&B––an amazing piece of history that continues to live on today. Plus, Chuck’s wife Susan makes a great breakfast! Learn more here: