Why Are There Cracks Around My Window Frame? (Symptoms and Solutions)

Are you noticing drywall cracks around your window frame(s)? Is the window frame itself cracked? Sometimes it feels like these cracks appear and reappear when you least expect them (like a ninja).

These cracks don’t exactly give you peace of mind. It’s natural for worries to pop into the ol’ noggin, not knowing if it’s a small issue or a symptom of a larger problem.

Dalinghaus Construction has been in the foundation repair game in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada since 2015, with our staff having over 100 years of combined experience. We’ve seen our fair share of cracks in need of repair, especially after we’ve conducted more than 10,000 inspections for homeowners. We want to share knowledge with you on why you’re seeing these cracks in your home.

Are window frame cracks common?

You might not see cracks on your window frame, though that ultimately depends on the material it’s made out of. 

For example, hardwood frames can crack and you’ll see gaps. You might see gaps with aluminum frames. You likely won’t see cracking on vinyl window frames – unless it’s cheap vinyl.

However, you will see cracks on the drywall around the window frame

Hairline cracks are normal, regardless of foundation issues. You’ll see these cracks from the moisture content around your home. 

On dryer days, you may see more hairline cracks. On the more humid days, you’ll wonder if those cracks even existed in the first place.

Wood absorbs moisture, causing it to expand. When it’s dry, wood shrinks.

Either way, these cracks are caused by excessive moisture. Wood will expand and shrink depending on the season, which will cause stress to the drywall and window frame.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Humidity
  • Temperature
  • Rain/precipitation
  • Leaks
    • If you notice any discoloration, you likely have a moisture leak.

 

Window frame cracks can also be caused by foundation settlement

 

What is foundation settlement?

This phenomenon is caused by expansive soils being incompetent and unable to bear the load your home exerts, resulting in your home sinking in sections. 

Often this results from the moisture content in the soil. If it’s lacking moisture, the soil will condense, break down, and naturally shift. 

Gravity will add to the stress on the framing of your home, more often causing cosmetic damages, but can lead to structural issues if left unaddressed.

 

Foundation settlement and window frames

Window frame cracks often result from foundation settlement, causing:

  • Your window becomes difficult to open and close
    • They feel “stickier” than normal.
  • The frame appears out of square.
  • Cracked glass.

Seeing window frame cracks on their own doesn’t mean you’re facing foundation settlement. Your home might be moving on its own due to moisture fluctuations. That said, you might see multiple signs.

 

Common signs and symptoms of a home with foundation issues

  • Drywall cracks
  • Stucco cracks
  • Concrete slab cracks
  • Ceiling cracks
  • Tile cracks
  • Chimney cracks
  • Leaning chimney
  • Sloping floors
  • Doors and windows are hard to open and close
  • Water leaks

For a much in-depth look at each of these signs and symptoms, take a look at The Ultimate Guide To Signs and Symptoms of a Home in Need of Foundation Repair.

If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this video “What is Causing My Doors and Windows to Stick?” You’ll learn window and door frame cracks are very similar. 

When you should worry about window frame cracks

Hairline cracks aren’t a larger indicator of a foundation issue. However, if you can put a quarter into a crack like an older slot machine, that is a serious issue.

Larger cracks aren’t something you want to leave unaddressed.

Addressing window frame cracks

If you’re seeing cracks on your drywall, drywall repair works. Caulking or drywall mud works. 

Caulking has elasticity and forgiveness when there is movement. As for mud, when it’s dry, it’s stubborn and doesn’t want to move. Any movement will cause it to open up. 

For either of these solutions, you’ll want to open the crack and fill it in. Caulking over the crack doesn’t necessarily get inside. Any movement will expose the crack again.

It’s like having a cut on your leg after you’ve gone hiking. Applying a bandaid won’t clean the wound. You have to get water and soap to wash the wound, followed by having a bandaid to protect it. 

Pro tip – don’t apply dirt to an unclean wound. It doesn’t fix the problem.

However, these solutions might be a band-aid to a bigger issue.

If your cracks are due to foundation settlement, mud or caulking won’t fix the underlying problem.

Foundation settlement doesn’t get better over time. If settlement on your home continues, all those fixes you made will reveal themselves once again.

You’ll want foundation settlement to be addressed by a foundation repair specialist.

Your home is moving. This is when areas of your home will start to separate and cause cosmetic damage.

Again, if it’s a hairline crack, you’re fine. If you can fit a quarter in a crack like you would to play Street Fighter II on an old arcade machine, you’re having serious issues with movement. 

If you’re not sure if you have movement, put a piece of tape on the crack and date it. Give it some time and see if you have any movement. See what it does.

Fun fact – There are crack monitoring devices you can buy online or at your local home improvement store. 

Foundation repair specialists will prevent your foundation from settling any further

This is a permanent solution. 

Companies will stabilize your foundation through galvanized steel underpinnings – helical piers, push piers, or a mixture of both.

Both types of piers are attached to the foundation of your home for stabilization. They are hydraulically put into the soil under your home until reaching competent soil or bedrock. That way you don’t have to worry about your home settling ever again. 

For a further understanding of these pier systems, check out our article Push Piers vs Helical Piers (Installation to Equipment to Cost).

If you’re still concerned about window frame cracks, have a foundation specialist come out and check it out for your peace of mind.

You’ve learned about why window frame cracks happen, foundation settlement, temporary solutions for fixing cracks, and permanent solutions so you never see those cracks again (from movement). If you’re not sure what is causing your cracks, don’t be afraid to schedule a free evaluation. 

Not knowing why you’re seeing these cracks can be scary. Have a professional evaluate your home and give you some peace of mind.

Dalinghaus Construction is more than willing to schedule you with one of our Project Design Specialists to do a 60-90 minute inspection of your home and the foundation.

And if you need multiple opinions, have as many other foundation repair companies come out and give their opinions. Different perspectives won’t hurt you. 

While you’re here, check out some more of our educational material.

Learn about different types of underpinnings with our article Push and Helical Pier Underpinning vs Concrete Underpinning.

And for an in-depth look at foundation repair methods, don’t miss out on The Ultimate Guide for Foundation Repair.

For any questions, call Dalinghaus Construction at (877)360-9277, or click the button below to schedule your free foundation evaluation today!

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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