Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Cracks in drywall are always a frustrating, unwelcome thing to find. It ruins the look of a room and usually leads to more cracks and other damage.

So how does it happen? How serious is it when cracks appear? What should you do?

You’re probably wondering what it means, how serious it is, and whether it means you need foundation repair. Here is an outline of the most common causes of cracks in your walls and how to know when it’s time to arrange for a professional inspection.

1) New Construction

It’s not uncommon for cracks to appear within the first few years of new construction, be it a wall or an entire home. Part of the reason is that the lumber behind the wall often contains a lot of moisture at first, and as it dries out, it shifts a little. This kind of slight movement can result in small cracks—usually where drywall sheets meet the joints.

Typically, these small cracks are not much to worry about. Give the wall or home a year or two before addressing them, so the wood has more time to finish drying and settling.

2) Normal Settling

Shift happens.

As a house ages, normal wear and tear and settling can result in hairline cracks over high-stress areas such as doors and windows. Often the cause is the ground beneath the foundation shifting slightly as the weather changes.

Those can be re-taped and painted if you’re just dealing with thin cracks above doors and windows. But if you start seeing more, deeper cracks, or have other concerns, seek out professional advice.

3) Foundation Damage

If you notice large cracks measuring more than a quarter-inch wide or other alarming signs of drywall damage, it’s time to have your home’s foundation checked.

Any number of things can affect a foundation, from soil erosion, poor construction, water damage to the foundation slab, or even termites. A professional foundation inspection as soon as possible can help you stop further damage before it’s too late.

4) Water Damage

Discoloration, yellow or brownish stains, alongside visible cracking or warping of drywall, are an unmistakable sign of water damage in your home. The problem could be from several sources ranging from leaky roofs or windows to issues with the home’s plumbing.

The good news is that this is relatively simple to take care of if caught in time. Fix whatever is leaking, then you can replace the damaged drywall. If the damage returns, you may need to have a professional inspect your construction to see if the problem isn’t larger than initially believed.

Drywall damage due to water can be a good thing as it shows up fairly quickly after a leak occurs. This allows you to take care of the problem before it leads to larger issues.

5) Faulty Taping

If you are in a new home or finding cracks in a recent add-on, and you see cracks form, there’s a good chance the culprit is inferior drywall installation.

Drywall panels are joined at the seam by drywall mud, then covered with paper tape. The wall is then finished and painted. If the seam isn’t adequately filled and sealed, the construction’s stress may be too much for that seam to handle, and the tape will start to pull away, leaving a thin crack.

Sometimes this can be fixed with a little glue to the back of the tape. In some cases, however, it may be necessary to check the seams and re-tape them entirely.

6) Nail Popping

Nail popping is another common reason for drywall cracking. This is when the nails holding the piece of drywall onto the stud begin to pull out and cause a dimpling look on the drywall surface.

Sometimes you can carefully tap the nails back in place, but that might only result in them popping out again later. For a more permanent fix, insert a couple of drywall screws into the stud about an inch above and below the nail. The screws will attach the drywall panel securely to the stud.

DIY Fixes and Professional Consulting

Many issues with drywall cracks can be easily fixed by the homeowner and don’t require any expensive call-in repairs. At the same time, overly numerous or repeating cracks, deep cracks, and other damage could also be signs of more significant problems you want to address as soon as possible.

It’s always best to play it safe. If you suspect your drywall cracks may be more severe than you feel confident handling yourself, don’t hesitate to bring in qualified, experienced professionals for advice. Contact us today for a free consultation!