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Why Do I have Cracks in My Home (Top 6 Residential Cracks)

Table of Contents
  • Cracks. Cracks have a bad rap, man.  They can: 
  • Potentially break your mother’s back 
  • Remind you of a hairy encounter with a plumber’s backside
  • Pull a deep dark memory of a D.A.R.E. campaign commercial of an egg fried to mush with a gravelly voiceover booming this is your brain on drugs.  

Cracks, fissures, and gaps are also a major eyesore, making them the numero uno cosmetic issue our Dalinghaus clients notice first, the big blinking neon sign pointing to foundation settlement.

Many times, these cracks are caused by the structure sinking into incompetent, non-load-bearing soil, different sections sinking at different rates, creating tension/stress on the home’s foundation and internal structure. This stress is expressed via various signs of foundation issues.   

In this article, we will discuss:       

  1. Drywall Cracks
  2. Corner Sheering Cracks
  3. Window/Doorframe Cracks
  4. Stucco Cracks
  5. Footing Cracks
  6. Slab Cracks

Drywall Cracks

Drywall cracks are one of the most prominent complaints we receive here at Dalinghaus Construction because they:

  1. Occur in high traffic/heavily lived-in areas of the home (bedrooms & living rooms)
  2. Worsen over time and/or can recur after a patch-and-paint

Cracks that don’t originate from foundation settlement can easily be patched and painted, restoring the aesthetic value. Yes, not all drywall cracks are a definitive sign of foundation settlement.

These more benign cracks can typically be attributed to the organic material (pressed wood) expanding and contracting due to varying levels of moisture exposure. WetDryWetDry.  

Foundation settlement cracks are caused by the home sinking unevenly, putting stress and pressure on the wooden infrastructure of the frame which is transferred to the drywall.

These cracks can be identified and diagnosed because they recur (return to haunt you after a putty-and-paint again and again) and grow in width.

Not to worry – once your home has finally been lifted to maximum practical recovery, your next cosmetic fix will be your last. That is until your wife feels the itch to repaint the house, but it won’t be due to drywall failure.

Fun Facts with Brian – the thickness of the drywall is not a determining factor for if it cracks under foundation settlement pressure. 5/8ths inch and 3/4inch drywall crack the same.

Corner Sheering  

Corner sheering is one of those cracks that sneak up on ya. This break is difficult to see in its early stages because the crack remains relatively small in width.

So, unless you put Baby in a corner and she sits there for a while, you’re probably not gonna see this until it’s an issue.

Corner sheering is caused by two walls settling at different rates, they are not sinking at the same rate as the wall perpendicular to it. 

This is a common occurrence for cornered interior and exterior walls.

The only permanent repair for corner sheering is foundation repair. If you repair through Dalinghaus, we guarantee the two walls will stay at the same level for-e-ver.

And, I do mean, forever because we have a new lifetime warranty on all Steel Pier Systems!  

Window & Doorframe Cracks 

Window/doorframe cracks are drywall fractures that originate from the corners of the frames and can occur on the interior and exterior of your home.

These frames are remarkably susceptible to popping out of square when a home settles unevenly consequently putting undue pressure on the frame and surrounding drywall.  

Doorframe and window frame cracks are almost a 100% guarantee that you have a foundation settlement problem. 

These fissures almost generally emanate from the top of the window/doorframe – though, it is not uncommon for cracks to originate from the bottom of window frames as well.

These cracks are generally angled and curved trajectories, occasionally shooting straight up.

Note – sometimes the pressure exerted on misaligned window frames is enough to crack single pane glass. This is particularly evident in older homes.   

Like with drywall cracks, the only permanent solution to window and doorframe cracks is foundation repair.


Stucco cracks are pretty similar to drywall cracks in size, width, and occurrence, except they are on the exterior of the home.

Again, you’ll want to look around the square frames of your window and doorways for cracks in the stucco.  

The problem is, if you do experience BIG stucco cracks, then you are exposing your home to the elements and critters looking for a cozy home.

These animals can chew through wiring, cause electrical damage, and even start fires. You know – you can get pretty crispy after chewing on 120 volts.   

While drywall and stucco cracks don’t necessarily mirror each other (exterior/interior), they can. In any case, these cracks are indicative of foundation issues in that general vicinity.

Stairstep cracks note – Stairstep cracks are fractures that occur in drywall, stucco, brick, and/or retaining walls that crack in a stairstep fashion.

Stairstep cracks are tell-tale signs of foundation settlement. And a definite sign a retaining wall is failing and might require Helical Tiebacks.

Stucco cracks permanent solution: foundation repair.

Footing Crack (Dalinghaus)

Footing Cracks

The majority of your footing is generally buried/hidden beneath a layer of topsoil; however, occasionally rain and weather can wash away, expose your home’s footing. Typically, 2”-6” of footing is visible on your home’s foundation even before weather considerations.  

Often, stucco is sprayed down to the home’s footing. If there’s a crack in your footing, it will break through the stucco to be visible.   

Vertical cracks are a big issue. Anything an 8th of an inch or bigger is when you need to call a specialist.

Fun Footing Facts with Brian – if you do see horizontal footing cracks, these are almost always attributed to rebar rusting, expanding, and blowing out the footing. 

Again, the only long-lasting solution to footing cracks is, you guessed it – foundation repair!

Slab Cracks

Foundation settlement can also cause your slab to crack. These cracks are typically hidden underneath carpet or tile (but many times the cracks break through the grout line).

You’re most likely to see a slab crack in your garage or feel it in your carpet if it’s big enough. If you do have a visible slab crack, you should read our article 5 Characteristics of Concrete Cracks.  

If it’s a triangular slab crack it’s probably from foundational heave

The Solution – Foundation Repair     

Foundation repair is the best solution for all of the cracks listed above. So, it’s a good thing we here at Dalinghaus Construction Inc. know a thing or two about foundation repair.

If you live in the Southern California area or Arizona, click the link below for a FREE foundation evaluation –


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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