Cracks in a home's walls and ceiling are very common; even in newly constructed homes, cracks can form as the new house settles into its foundation. However, because cracks can also be a sign of foundation problems, homeowners can benefit greatly from knowing the difference between a harmless crack and one that could be the indication of a much more serious problem. Here's some helpful advice to help you determine when it's time to call a foundation company out for an inspection and possible repairs.
Know Why Cracks Appear
There are so many possible causes of visible cracks in a home's drywall. As such, it's helpful for homeowners to be aware of the various causes so that they can rule out ones that don't apply to them.
Smaller cracks that develop in a home's walls and/or ceilings and stop growing are typically caused by the house settling (or &"breathing," as many foundation experts call it). This is most common in newly built homes, but the truth is that homes never stop breathing. They're constantly settling into their foundations, expanding in warmer temperatures, and contracting in colder temperatures. In this sense, you'd have more
of a problem if your home didn't have any cracks at all!
However, cracks that appear and then continue to grow for months or even years can be the sign of a serious foundation problem. If left untreated, the structural integrity of the home itself could be at serious risk.
Know How to Visually Assess Cracks
The direction and other specific characteristics of a crack can say a great deal about its severity or even its cause. One of the most common types of cracks are those that run vertically along a wall. According to HomeGuides.com
, these types of cracks are generally the least serious because they run in the same direction as the home's drywall. Therefore, they typically are not a sign of foundation problems but are simply a sign that the home is settling.
Horizontal cracks, on the other hand, should be more carefully scrutinized. Specifically, you should be on the lookout for cracks that appear to run at a 90 degree angle or close to that. This could be the sign of serious foundation damage. Likewise, cracks that seem to run in a staircase shape should be looked into by a professional. Fortunately, most straight horizontal cracks are relatively harmless, but if they seem to suddenly grow in size, they should be taken more seriously.
Finally, if you notice cracks near windows and doors, there are some tests you should perform to determine whether foundation damage is likely to be the cause. Try fully opening and shutting the door or window with the crack near it. If you have a hard time shutting the door or window, this may be a sign of foundation damage. This would indicate that the home's structure has shifted significantly enough that the door and the door's opening (or the window and its opening, as may be the case) no longer match up in the same way that they did when the home was built. This is something that should be taken very seriously, especially when cracks are present.
Any time you're not sure as to the severity of a crack, it's a good idea to contact a foundation company so that they can perform a thorough inspection. There's always a chance that the cracks will not be caused by foundation damage, but if there is
any damage, it's best to know about it sooner rather than later. After all, these types of foundation crack repair can get very expensive for Seattle homeowners as the damage grows more severe over time. Take a look at this website
for more information about whether your home's foundation is in danger.