There are few house issues that can be so immediately worrisome as a crack appearing in your wall. It might look like things are about to start collapsing at any moment, but before you jump to any conclusions, let’s look at what some of the causes might be. Not all cracks are as serious as others and, in most cases, there’s usually something to be done about it. Here are a few of the causes and what you can do to take care of the problem.
Is your home relatively new?
If your home has been built in the past year or so, then it’s not actually too unexpected to see a crack appear in the wall. Houses “settle” over time, meaning that materials shift into place often due to reaching a stable moisture content or because of tiny movements caused by gravity. In the cases of brand new homes, this is usually due to the new lumber used in the build. Green lumber has higher moisture content than lumber that has been in place for years. As it dries out, the cracks appear. You should wait for a year to let a new build settle but, after that, you just need to plaster it and paint it.
It doesn’t have to be new to settle, either
Cracks due to settling aren’t only likely to happen in brand new homes, either. Certain changes such as moisture in the air as well as extreme temperature changes can result in shifting building materials that lead to new cracks, too. You can aim to prevent some of these from happening by better insulating the home so that it is less affected by those temperature changes. If they are lighter cracks, then you might be able to repair them with some plaster or tape and then a little paint over them. For deeper cracks, you should investigate the foundation to see how far they go, but you might need to replace the wall.
Do you see any signs of pests?
There are a lot of pests that can do varying degrees of property damage. However, some of the most prolific destroyers of homes can be some of the smallest, too. If your home uses a lot of wooden materials, then termites can do a ton of damage. Look out for signs of termite infestations, such as discoloured drywall, small pinpoint holes, peeling paint, and floorboards getting very squeaky. You may need the help of termite damage control and pest elimination services. Termites will gnaw through whatever wood they can. This can include doing damage to wooden foundations that will cause cracks to appear in the walls as the newly damaged foundation settles into a different position.
It’s important to remember that, even though they are pests, you still need to deal with any animals you find in a humane way. In particular, you need to pay attention to which species require particular care and attention. You can take a look at arbtech.co.uk protected species and bat surveys for more on this. If you are unsure, be sure to call in an expert to take a look for you.
Are the cracks over a quarter-inch thick or wide?
If you see the signs of pests and have foundational damage, it’s likely the pests that contributed to it. Unfortunately, there are all manners of risks that can lead to damage to the foundation. The entire house rests on the foundation, as the name applies, so if you see cracks of this size, it’s likely because some damage has been done to that foundation. It might be due to soil composition, changes in moisture levels around the foundation, leaking water doing damage over time, and more. Foundation repair services might be needed to help you ensure that you’re able to get to the bottom of the issue and to find the appropriate solution based on what the problem is.
Have you left it vacant recently?
Settling happens due to changes in the environment affecting the wall, either due to gravity and time causing materials ot shift ever so slightly, or changes in moisture and temperature causing materials like wood to expand or contract. When you leave the home for long periods of time, this process happens more rapidly or, rather, it happens without you there to impede it. This kind of settling would happen if you weren’t in the home, using things like the AC and heating to keep the temperature at a relatively consistent level. As such, when you’re not there to do that, it can speed up the settling process, leading to new cracks forming as a result. As such, it’s a good idea to have a trusted friend or family member housesit for you.
Have you recently had drywall installed?
If you’re seeing cracks in walls that have only just been put up, then it’s a good chance that it’s the fault of whoever was responsible for installing that drywall. Some construction contractors and repairmen simply aren’t as careful as they should be and their faulty taping can cost you. This tape is supposed to cover the drywall mud that keeps the panels together by filling the seam between. Whether the seam hasn’t been effectively filled or the tape hasn’t been properly applied, the tape will come loose, causing cracks to appear. All you need is a little glue to stick the tape back in place if you see it, but you might need someone to install the drywall again if it’s a widespread issue.
Are there signs of a leak?
If the crack is coming from the top of the wall, rather than the bottom, or if there are other signs of a leak, such as spreading damp, then the problem is very likely to be just that. You need to look at signs of leaks, such as inviting a plumber to come to inspect your pipes. You should also look at the roof and the attic (or hire a trained professional to do it safely) to make sure that rainwater isn’t coming in from the outside. If you fix the leak, you can repair the drywall.
It’s important to, first of all, find out how serious the crack is, then to isolate the source and use the appropriate treatment. The above tips can help you figure out exactly what the problem is, but the help of a professional might be needed if it’s serious enough.