Cracks in the walls Heres when you should worry Millennial Living

Cracks in the walls Heres when you should worry Millennial Living

Cracks in the walls? Here's when you should worry

As a homeowner or someone doing a home inspection prior to making an offer on a home, there aren’t many home repair issues that cause quite as much consternation as cracks in the wall. Whether you’re noticing some itsy bitsy hairline cracks running vertically from a corner of the living room, or a great big gaping crack that forms a horizontal grimace across the wall, a crack in your home will definitely give you pause.

But here’s the thing about cracks: They can be insignificant surface blemishes or they can indicate serious structural damage, and sometimes the two don’t look that much different.

Really, the only tried and true way to get a definitive answer about a wall crack is to call in an expert to examine it. That said, there are a few clues as to whether a crack is serious – or a mere flesh wound. Here’s our take on vertical and horizontal cracks

Vertical cracks

Here’s the good news: Of all the crack catastrophes, vertical ones tend to be the least serious. Many vertical cracks are caused by a home’s natural tendency to settle after construction. Most of the time, this process takes place a few months after a house is built, but these settling- or shrinkage-related cracks can appear for up to three years after construction. Generally, such cracks aren’t considered structural defects, especially if they start near the apex where the wall meets the ceiling.

Some vertical cracks, however, are indicative of serious structural problems. If the vertical crack in your wall is more than 3 millimeters wide (that’s 0.11811 inches or less than 1/8 inches) it’s time to call in the experts for an evaluation.

Horizontal cracks

Horizontal cracks – or jagged diagonal cracks at a 45-degree angle – are a different story. This type of crack may indicate a serious, underlying problem, such as water damage, significant foundation shifts or a soil bearing failure.

Check to see if your horizontal cracks are accompanied by other warning signs, such as:

Shifted moldings

Cracks in sheetrock or flooring

Separation around walls, windows or doors

Doors that won’t close or swing open

Floors that are not noticeably leve

These symptoms may indicate soil bearing failure or even foundation failure. Fortunately, many foundation wall cracks can be repaired without the need for complete replacement, as long as the problem is caught in time and movement isn’t excessive. If you see any of these warning signs, don’t mess around: It’s definitely time to call in a foundation expert.

Other warning signs

If those ragged lines in your walls are accompanied by “sticky doors,” you might have a problem. Doors that are misaligned – that don’t close all the way or have gaps around them – often indicate a twisted frame that’s caused by foundation movement. This issue can also cause horizontal, jagged cracks on the walls around the door. Before you panic, though, ensure that the door isn’t sticking because of too-thick paint, cracked wood or hardware problems.

Other warning signs of foundation problems include visible nail heads. Known as “nail pops,” nail or screw heads that stick out from the wall have pulled away from the wooden studs underneath the drywall and can indicate serious structural issues, often caused by lateral drywall movement.

When it comes to a valuable asset like your home, it always pays to be safe. Cracks can look innocuous – while actually hiding significant structural problems. Don’t take the risk of incurring serious damage – and shelling out serious moolah – down the road; if you see cracks, don’t procrastinate before calling a foundation expert, especially if these things crop up during a home inspection. At the very least an independent estimate of the problem and the cost to fix it could be a part of your negotiation wit the seller. .

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