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What Causes Cracks in Walls and Ceilings?

 

Wondering what causes cracks in walls and ceilings? Should you be worried about cracks in walls and ceilings?  The good news is…not always!

Cracks in your walls and/or ceiling aren’t always a sign of a foundation problem. It depends on the size, location and look of the crack.

Let’s dig into the different types of cracks, what causes them, and when you should contact a foundation professional. 

Are cracks in walls and ceilings serious?

The short answer is probably not, but maybe.  We’ll discuss what a harmless crack looks like and when you should call a professional.   

What causes cracks in walls and ceilings?

There are several causes of cracks in walls and ceilings.     

  • Homes are designed to flex a little bit due to temperature changes, and a little bit of settling is ok.  When a house moves or settles a little bit, you’ll get some cracks in your walls or ceiling.  This is perfectly normal.
  • Water from a leaky pipe above the ceiling or a roof with a leak are often the causes of cracks.  When water gets to your drywall, it causes it to expand, and this expansion can cause cracks. Oftentimes with water damage you’ll see yellow rings in the ceiling around the cracks. 
  • A change in the load on an upper floor can also cause cracks in the ceiling below.  Frequently filling a bathtub that isn’t properly supported, heavy gym equipment upstairs…these are examples of heavy loads that may not be properly supported.  The result could be cracks in your ceilings. 
  • Poor craftsmanship could also be a cause. Loose drywall tape could peel off, not enough mud used to fill the joints, etc.    
  • Finally, wall or ceiling cracks can be a sign of a foundation problem. When a foundation settles more than it was designed to allow, the wood framing, the walls, the exterior and even your plumbing can be stressed. The sooner you get the foundation issue fixed the better off you’ll be.

Types of wall and ceiling cracks

Believe it or not, your brick home is designed to move.  Seasonal temperature changes and soil moisture levels will cause the home to move. When this happens, you’ll see cracks.  This is unavoidable and you shouldn’t worry.  Here’s the types of cracks that are ok and those that aren’t.

  • Thin, hairline cracks in the ceiling are most often nothing to worry about.
  • If you have a large number of small cracks, you should get it checked out.  
  • A crack that extends across a ceiling and down a wall is not normal. Contact a reputable foundation repair professional immediately.
  • If you have a crack between your wall and ceiling, this is likely a result of foundation settlement. Contact a reputable foundation repair professional to have it checked out.
  • Jagged cracks extending from door or window frames are a sign of a possible foundation problem. Contact a professional.
  • A large number of small ceiling cracks could also indicate a serious structural problem. Contact a professional

 

If you have any of the concerning cracks listed above, then check for some of these other signs of a possible foundation problem:  

  • Doors or windows that stick
  • Uneven floors
  • Cracks in more than one floor tile.
  • Cracks or gaps in crown molding or base boards.
  • Stair step cracks in exterior bricks or masonry.
  • Chimneys or porches that are separating from the house.

Conclusion

All homes will have a few small cracks appear and this is normal. However, you know your home better than anyone.  If you see any of the more concerning types of cracks and if you have any of the other symptoms of foundation problems, then call a professional and get it taken care of before the problem gets worse.  

If you think you might have a foundation problem and want a professional opinion, click here or call us for a free quote! 713-721-8888


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