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How to Tell if the Crack in Your Wall is a Problem

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A crack in the wall can appear at any time. However, you must understand how to tell if a wall crack is a problem that you should fix immediately. As you might guess, some wall cracks are far less harmless than others. Meanwhile, some cracks should prompt you to seek professional assistance as soon as possible.

We aim to clearly define the differences between wall cracks you should worry about and wall cracks that are of little concern. We’ll also share some actions you should take if you notice a worrisome crack.

Signs a Wall Crack Is Something to Worry About

The list below shows a few signs that your wall cracks indicate a structural issue. If you notice any of these indicators, you should contact a professional contractor:

A crack in the wall can appear at any time. However, you must understand how to tell if a wall crack is a problem that you should fix immediately.

  • A lengthening crack: Notice the length of the crack in your wall. It is less likely to cause an issue if it remains the same. However, if your crack gets longer, it likely indicates a structural concern.
  • Cracks that get wider: It’s also crucial to evaluate the width of a crack. Any crack that becomes wider often reveals a structural concern.
  • Water leaking through the crack: If any crack in a wall allows water to get through, assume it is a problem. These cracks indicate a structural or drainage issue, whether they appear in your foundation or anywhere else throughout your home.
  • Horizontal, diagonal, and stair-step cracks: Pay close attention to horizontal, diagonal, and stair-step cracks. These are the most problematic. A single, hairline vertical crack in a poured concrete foundation wall usually isn’t anything to worry about. It was probably caused by shrinkage during the concrete curing process. However, a series of vertical cracks next to each other is a bad sign.

While there are other signs that a crack is severe, the ones in the list above are the best indication that you need support from a professional. Likewise, any crack that causes concern, whether it meets the above criteria, is worthy of a professional inspection.

Harmless Wall Cracks

If you notice any of the crack types in the list below, there is an excellent chance that the cracks you see are nothing to worry about:

  • Hairline cracks: These cracks are most common in any wall that’s made of concrete, especially a basement wall. Shrinkage is a natural part of the concrete curing process, often resulting in hairline cracks.
  • Uniform settlement cracks: If you are a homeowner, you have likely heard of foundation settlement. In the first year after construction, it is standard for your foundation to experience a small amount of uniform settlement. This type of settlement can also cause hairline cracks that should not bother you.

The critical point to remember is that any harmless cracks should be small in length and width. These hairline cracks are often no issue. However, if they cause you to worry, having your wall cracks checked out does not hurt.

What Causes Wall Cracks?

Common causes of wall cracks include the following:

  • Differential foundation settlement: Earlier, we mentioned that a small amount of uniform settlement is typical. However, differential settlement is problematic. Differential settlement involves uneven foundation shifts. Either way, they cause cracks in your foundation and throughout the floors of your home.
  • Excessive hydrostatic pressure: This scientific term refers to the force water exerts on the surfaces it contacts. When the soil surrounding your foundation becomes saturated, the resultant hydrostatic pressure can overcome the strength of your walls. Excessive hydrostatic pressure can cause cracks and many other issues.
  • Poor installation: Regardless of your wall’s materials, a poor installation process can cause your walls to crack and break. A builder can mix concrete incorrectly. A drywall installer can also perform their job incorrectly. No matter the source, you can expect your walls to develop cracks quickly if the installation was improper.
  • Structural issues: Perhaps your installer did not include enough joists or spaced them incorrectly. If that’s the case, the first sign might be cracks in your walls, floors, or ceilings. The same is true for other structural issues, including truss uplift, removing a weight-bearing wall, and much more.
  • Humidity problems: If the crack in your wall is present in drywall, it can result from changes in humidity or temperature. Extreme changes in air moisture or temperature cause drywall to expand and contract. This change in size can cause cracks in your walls.

What Causes Wall Cracks

There are other reasons why a crack may form in your wall. However, the reasons listed above are some of the most common. If you notice any of these signs, contact your wall professional as soon as possible.

Repairing Wall Cracks

While there are many sources of wall cracks, there are multiple repair options as well. Below are some of the most prevalent resolutions an expert contractor may suggest:

  • Resolve differential foundation settlement: If the cracks in your wall result from differential foundation settlement, you’ll need to find a foundation specialist to perform the repairs. These specialists use foundation piers to resolve this issue. The piers are inserted into the earth until they reach firm strata. Once the piers are in place, the foundation team can level your home and prevent future cracks due to settlement.
  • Relieve hydrostatic pressure: To relieve hydrostatic pressure issues, the foundation team will excavate around the foundation and install a drain tile system to prevent excess moisture from building up in the ground. Once that’s in place, they will repair the wall cracks caused by the hydrostatic pressure. They may use carbon fiber straps, wall plate anchors, or some other method to stabilize the wall and repair the crack.

Find the Right Help for the Crack in Your Wall

Whether you suspect an issue with your home or are certain your house has structural issues, you should not attempt to resolve them alone. Instead, a better approach is to hire a professional contractor to evaluate the cracks for you.

At Dalinghaus Construction, we are well-versed in any issue that can occur on your walls, floors, or ceilings. If you live in Southern California, Arizona, or Nevada and have cracks you are worried about, call us. We can inspect your cracks and provide various other essential construction services.

WRITTEN BY

Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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