Crack On Wall: Cause And Effect

A crack on wall surfaces is nothing to be alarmed about. Wall cracks can be repaired easily. There are moments when a wall crack means there’s a serious underlying issue. When that happens, foundation repair will be required, but that is often unnecessary.

Crack On Wall

If you think your wall cracks are serious, call a professional contractor because you may need foundation repair. Otherwise, you should learn how to fix wall cracks before serious issues arise.

You can re-tape cracks in walls with ease. You just need to know what kind of wall crack you’re working with. In some cases, you might need to repair a surface that’s already been re-taped, so you should learn about taping up wall cracks.

You should also learn how to check the wall area surrounding the crack and look for nail heads or screw heads that might be visible on the surface of the wall. You can start by checking out our guide on wall cracks here. 

What Classifies A Cracked Wall?

What Classifies A Cracked Wall?

There are many different types of cracks in walls. A cracked wall is a wall with an elongated gap that isn’t natural. If a hole is punched in the wall, it isn’t a crack. But if the wall splits, then it’s a crack. Smaller cracks can be caused by any number of reasons. Wider cracks often represent serious structural damage and can cause serious issues.

However, most other types of structural damage won’t require foundation repair. In newly built homes, a wall crack can be fixed with the tips you’ll learn today. With a few types of damage, like water damage, excluded from the steps you can take to repair the wall. But cracks in concrete walls are a different matter and may require foundation repair.

Why Does A Cracked Wall Happen?

Why Do Cracked Walls HappenView in gallery

There are many reasons that cracked walls can happen. Usually, the reason is natural and nothing serious. But occasionally, things go wrong and your home could be in danger. With diagonal cracks, you  might have roof truss issues, but with hairline cracks, you’ll be okay.. Check out these reasons to see what you think caused your wall cracks. 

Settling

This is the most common, and least worrisome, type of crack. You’ll notice horizontal cracks on your interior or exterior walls. This is what happens in new houses for the first year and usually come in the form of small wall cracks. Thinner cracks aren’t much to be worried about, but you should still the fix them immediately. Thinner cracks usually appear around doorways won’t cause structural damage.

Impact

If the wall suffered some sort of trauma, then it could easily become cracked. While blunt force usually causes holes in drywall, in concrete, it may cause small cracks. Severe foundation shifting is serious, but also rare. When that happens, foundation repair will be necessary and should be handled by a professional. 

Vacancy 

If you leave a home empty for too long, even for a vacation, it can cause cracks in the walls and other serious issues. That’s why abandoned homes need repairs despite the home not being used. Concrete walls typically crack after they become damp. When this happens, structural damage can be expected.

Meanwhile, settling and can lead to wider cracks and even horizontal cracks. Termite damage will also result because nobody is in the home to keep an eye on things.

Faulty Taping

When it comes to drywall, nothing can cause uglier cracks than faulty taping. Almost always, if the taping isn’t done right the seams will show, especially if the sheetrock wasn’t installed tightly. 

Learn to tape correctly before attempting to put up sheetrock. If you need to repair someone else’s bad taping job, then take a class or learn via tutorials online like the simple one below to find out to repair cracks in walls. Fortunately, you won’t need foundation repair if you’re dealing with a faulty taping issue.

Water Leaking

Although water damage doesn’t always cause a wall crack, but it is a problem on its own as water causes cracks and other serious issues. Water leaks require immediate attention or you could need foundation repair later on. This is because water softens the wall and makes it more susceptible to tears as it swells and warps.

Water damage is the most expensive type of crack to fix because it usually involves removing the wall affected and getting to the bottom of the issue. This takes time and a lot of money, but it’s definitely necessary. 

Structural Issue

A structural issue wall crack should be investigated right away. There are many things that can cause structural damage that can then cause cracks, such as termites, which will eat through your foundation. Cracks are also caused by severe foundation shifting. You will need foundation repair if this is the issue.

It doesn’t matter if it’s in your interior or exterior walls, if the wall crack is wide or jagged, call a professional to make sure you don’t have a serious problem. If you notice diagonal cracks, then they will require immediate attention.

If it’s a hairline crack near a door or window, then it’s probably fine and you can learn how to fix cracks in walls like this yourself. 

How Do You Fix Cracks In The Walls

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The way you fix wall cracks primarily depends on the type of wall you have. Plaster and drywall and the most common types of walls that need to be repaired regularly. Here’s what you need to know about each type.

Plaster Walls

With plaster, there are serious issues to consider. Here are a few types of cracks you may see and how to repair each of them. For a full guide on repairing plaster, take a look at this article which takes this info and goes more in-depth. If you discover that you have a water infiltration issue with drywall mud, you will need to close the water source immediately. Paper tape will not work as well with water problems. 

Hairline Cracks

If what you are dealing with is a hairline crack, your best bet is to remove the loose pieces and apply spackling to the affected area. You can apply a thin coat and let it dry before applying another if there is a need. After each coat, sand the area with sandpaper to see where you stand.

Wide Wall Cracks 

The first thing you need to do with a wide crack is press hard on each side to see if the crack is moving. If it is, the technique will be different. If it isn’t, then you need to apply plastering tape to the crack. Apply a thin coat of plaster underneath, then stick the tape to it.

Afterward, apply it to the top surface to even out the wall. Make sure that you apply more plaster to any side that’s deeper or serious issues will arise. Don’t forget to sand! Many people think they can get by without sanding, but not only does this make for a rough surface but it’s nearly impossible to paint an un-sanded wall.

Foundation Movement Cracks

Moving cracks aren’t as easy to repair because the problem isn’t on the surface. They involve more serious issues related to structural damage. What you do here is dig out the moving side until you find solid plaster that does not move. It may be more work, but if you don’t fix it now, it will be even more work later as serious issues will arise.

Secure the loose side with plaster washers, drywall screws, and perforated discs. This will allow you to attach the loose plaster to the original lath. If you notice white powdery stains near the base of your walls, then you have serious issues and will need a structural engineer.

You’re starting over with the affected area. If you’re not a professional, you may want to watch a tutorial on how to fix moving cracks. This could lead to structural damage if it isn’t handled properly and will require foundation repair.

Plaster Wall Cracks

The easiest way to repair drywall is to get a drywall patch kit. This includes everything you need to repair drywall as well as instructions on how to take care of each type of crack It’s a worthy investment for anyone with drywall. You’ll noice this in newly build homes, so do not become alarmed. 

Most drywall mud can be repaired by removing any loose tape and falling mud that is crumbling away from the wall. Then, sand the surface of the drywall where there is mud leftover. There’s no need to sand non-mudded areas. 

After sanding, you can start filling the crack with drywall mud. Make it smooth with a drywall joint knife. Then place the tape on top of that mud. After you get the tape to stick, apply a thin layer of mud on top of it.

After this dries, sand it but don’t go deep enough that you compromise the tape’s adhesion or this will lead to serious issues in the long run. It can be easy to get lazy and opt for a simple spackling job but take will cover much better and last much longer.

Concrete Walls

Cracks in concrete walls usually occur in basements. They are caused by water leaking or foundation movement. When fixing concrete walls, you’ll need filler to cover the holes. Do not use caulk on concrete walls. Concrete walls typically won’t crack unless you have foundation movement, like after an earthquake.  You may notice hairline cracks on your concrete walls, but those are normal. 

Concrete walls typically crack in basement structures. You’ll find that wide cracks in concrete are best patched and sealed with a concrete patching compound. Smaller cracks, less than 1/4 inch wide, almost always can be repaired with a concrete caulk or liquid filler. Patching compounds typically are mixed with water and applied with a trowel.

If your basement walls feel damp, then wait until they are dry. It’s best to use sealant with hairline cracks or horizontal cracks. For example, non-sag polyurethane sealant will work best. Poly is a concrete caulk that is recommended for repairing cracks in vertical and horizontal surfaces. If the concrete walls are in your basement, you might need foundation repair or serious issues could arise.

Stair Step Cracks

You’d be surprised but stair step cracks are normal. They’re usually in the shape of horizontal cracks. The hairline cracks are caused by moisture problems in the soil around the home’s foundation.

Basement Wall Crack Repair

Basement Wall Crack RepairView in gallery

Most basement walls are made of concrete. Hopefully, the wall crack is vertical. Diagonal cracks in concrete walls are the result of natural settling. If the crack is horizontal, it could mean something serious and you might need foundation repair.

Contact a professional if the cracks seem strange or if they are wide as structural damage can only be repaired by a structural engineer. But if they are simple and vertical, namely hairline, then you should feel free to repair them on your own with one simple method.

Step 1: Dry The Crack

If the crack is damp, you need to dry it with a blowdryer before trying to repair it. Moisture will only cause more problems, so this step is important. If you can’t get rid of the moisture you probably have a plumbing problem or other serious issues.

Call a plumber or contractor to find out if that’s your problem. If they don’t believe there is a problem, you can get away with paying very little for their visit. But if there is a problem, you want it fixed asap.

Step 2: Injecting Epoxy

When you have cracks in walls, often an epoxy injection works faster and is good for beginners. This type of epoxy is called liquid concrete and can be found at most hardware stores. You can use epoxy on interior and exterior walls, but get a second opinion before you do anything.

It is usually applied similar to caulk like the type you use to caulk a bathroom. It’s super simple and involves squeezing the epoxy into the crack and smoothing it out to match the rest of the wall. Before you paint over the epoxy, let it dry completely.

Step 3: Sealing The Crack

Learning how to fix cracks in walls always ends with sealing the crack. Although epoxy works great for leveling, it can help to get a separate concrete sealer to ensure that the wall looks the same color throughout. It can also help with protecting it, so get a concrete sealer in a small can. If you’re dealing with a water infiltration issue, make sure you use the right sealant. You may have potential structural damage, but you will need to ask a professional. 

When To Hire A Structural Engineer

When To Hire A Structural Engineer View in gallery

If this job is overwhelming you, don’t hesitate to call a structural engineer. Foundation Repair is serious business. It’s their job to ensure your safety and to fix wall cracks that are big and dangerous. Most cracked walls can be repaired on a decent budget. 

The average crack wall repair cost is around $2-5 per linear foot. This type of contractor generally costs $50-$100 an hour. Most people end up paying a few hundred dollars to repair their cracked walls.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Are Stair Step Cracks Normal?

Stair step cracks are among the most common of foundation cracks. These hairline cracks are a clear sign of a problematic foundation. Typically, stair step cracks in a block foundation are caused by bowing walls. The cracks will be found toward the corners of the foundation, and are often found with a horizontal crack.

Is It Normal For Walls To Crack?

Wall cracks are fairly common in a new home, but also in older homes. A wall crack is often the result of a normal house “settling.” Vertical cracks can be fixed with re taped joints, which is where the drywall panels meet.

When you need to re tape a surface, make sure you use strong tape. If your walls feel damp, you’ll need to wait until they’re completely dry before you re tape the surface.

How Do You Know If Drywall Crack Is Serious?

Recurring cracks or drywall cracks larger than 1/8 inch wide are usually signs of structural damage that should be addressed as soon as possible. As the structural components of a home continue to settle, deflect, or deteriorate, wall cracks will lengthen and widen and lead to serious issues.

If you notice structural damage to your drywall panels, do not try and fix the problem without professional help.

What Is The Reason For A Cracked Wall? 

Contraction and expansion of building materials due to fluctuations in temperature and moisture content cause vertical cracks and horizontal cracks. 

Do Drywall Cracks Mean Foundation Problems?

Drywall cracks in the corners of windows and doors – on any floor of your home – are due to foundation movement. If you see a crack of this nature, it is best to have structural damage inspected by a professional.

Can A House Settle After 20 Years?

Every house will experience settlement over the years. In fact, a few inches of settlement is nothing to worry over. Soil expansion and contraction cannot be controlled and quality construction will hold up under normal conditions.

Crack On Wall Conclusion

If you notice a wall crack, it’s probably not a big deal. Although cracks in walls should always be taken seriously, with newly build homes, you probably don’t have a severe problem. With bigger cracks or horizontal cracks, you might need new lumber. If this is the case, professional help will be required.

A wall crack in concrete walls, especially in newly built homes, is very rare. Of course, a wall crack could be caused by a water infiltration issue in a newly built home.  When you see a wall crack, almost always you’ll notice white powdery stains. Sometimes, household glue will work, but you still might need a structural engineer to fix the problem. Paper tape only works with small cracks. When you have a stair step crack, analyze it carefully before you do anything. 

Nail popping is another concern, but can be resolved with a little household glue. Nail pops are not a big deal, so there’s no reason for you to be alarmed.

Now, when all the seams have come apart, you will need professional help. Thin cracks or vertical cracks can be handled by yourself, just like drywall cracks. You won’t see a wall crack in concrete walls unless it’s in a basement and the walls are exposed to a lot of water. 

Roof truss issues are another matter altogether and should be taken seriously. Foundation problems arise when you ignore these problems are try to fix them yourself. Serious structural damage is something you can’t fix by yourself. Foundation repair on your exterior walls or plaster walls is a big deal.