Cracks in the walls and ceilings of residential buildings can be a source of concern to homeowners, as cracking may indicate serious structural problems and give a building an unsightly look.
People often ask – do cracks in walls mean foundation problems? Not always. Sometimes, cracks observed in buildings’ walls may be due to the natural movement of the foundation over time. So, what type of cracks should you be worried about? Find out more in this article.
What Causes Cracks in Walls and Ceilings?
First, understand that cracks in ceilings and walls are a very common occurrence that affects both old and new buildings.
Some of these may be normal settlement cracks that occur a few years after the structure was first erected. For example, a small crack in the wall under a window can easily be fixed with a bit of plaster and paint. However, pronounced cracks and cracks that increase in size on the walls and ceilings may indicate problems in the foundation, requiring the services of professionals.
Types of Cracks in Walls and Ceilings
Some common types of cracks in walls are vertical cracks, horizontal cracks, and ceiling cracks. Telling these issues apart can keep homeowners’ worries at bay or save on costs for unnecessary repairs. Cracks may also occur at points in the building that carry the bulk of its weight.
If you’d like, use our foundation inspection checklist to get a general idea of what you’re working with before giving our URETEK experts a call.
The two most important types of cracks are those in walls and ceilings. We’ll discuss both shortly, and inform you about what’s normal, and what isn’t.
Cracks in drywall can occur due to stresses or initial settlement. They are thin cracks in exterior walls often called ‘hairline cracks.’
Below are some common drywall cracks you should keep an eye out for:
Vertical Cracks in Drywall
These are cracks that run vertically across the vertical seams of drywall. Vertical cracks at the corners and around door jamb are sure signs of settlement and typically occur a few months after a building is erected. Vertical cracks in drywall pose no serious issues and can be remedied with a simple plaster and paint job. However, you can monitor the progress of the cracks and report any issues you encounter to a structural engineer.
Horizontal Cracks in Drywall
These cracks run horizontally, at jagged angles, or a 45-degree angle across drywall. Unlike vertical cracks, they are serious issues that indicate problems in the foundation such as shifting or water damage. If you observe these types of cracks in your building, it’s best to consult a professional immediately.
Ceiling cracks can be minor house settling cracks, or signal foundation problems depending on the age, size, and location of the fissures. Minor cracks at the doors, windows, or where the walls meet the ceilings may occur within the first one or two years and can be fixed by plastering and painting over. However, for ceiling cracks that are up to 1/16 inches, you should consult a professional.
The following are some common ceiling cracks you should keep an eye out for:
Matching Vertical Cracks
Matching vertical cracks run along the length of the ceiling and down the wall along the same line. Matching vertical cracks are almost always an indicator of structural damage. You should have it checked out immediately.
Bowed Ceiling Cracks
Cracks that occur across ceilings and cause a sag in certain sections are a huge problem. This ‘dip’ is usually caused by the force of gravity acting on weakened joists and can be found either along the lines of the cracks or to one side. If you notice this type of cracking, please consult a structural engineer immediately.
Spiderweb cracks are small fissures in the walls, floors, and ceilings which originate from a central point and run radially across the surface. Like other types of cracking, spiderwebs may be due to initial settlement. In this case, the size of the cracks determines the severity of the problem. If you observe fissures that are up to 1/16 inches wide, you should have it checked out immediately.
Cracks in Walls and Ceilings – When to Worry
As we’ve discovered, some cracks in ceilings and walls are just natural symptoms of settling. Be on the lookout for the following more serious signs that may require professional foundation remediation.
While settlement after a few years is common and nothing to worry about, substantial settlement can be cause for concern in most buildings. Extensive, wide, multiple, or long fissures should be examined immediately by a competent professional.
Cracks Having Moisture
Cracks with ‘wet patches’ around the fault lines could be an indication of water seepage from the foundation. They are serious issues that require urgent intervention to prevent further deterioration.
Cracks Across the Middle of Walls and Ceilings
The location of a crack is an essential indicator of its severity. As a rule of thumb, cracks that occur across the middle of walls and ceilings are telltale signs of structural issues.
If You’ve Got Foundation Problems, Contact URETEK Today!
URETEK ICR Gulf Coast is a dependable provider of home repair and consultancy services based in Houston, Texas. Since the year 2000, we have offered a range of remedial services to 1000+ clients across the country.
Contact us today for Houston foundation repair services. We offer foundation repairs using our special foam foundation repair solution as well as concrete lifting and plumbing. We also offer additional services such as installing drainages and leveling pools.