When a crack appears in the home on the wall or ceiling, it can be distressing to see. Wall cracks and ceiling cracks are some of the last things you want to notice because you know that they usually indicate a problem. How are they caused? What do the different types of cracks mean? Do cracks always indicate that there is a problem that needs to be fixed? How do you fix wall cracks and ceiling cracks? These may be some of the questions that you’re asking yourself, and they’re all great questions.
Wall cracks and ceiling cracks can be similar, but not necessarily caused by the same things. Wall cracks and ceiling cracks can be caused by foundation settlement, but wall cracks alone can also be caused by foundation problems like bowing or leaning walls that cause cracks, and frost heave problems. Ceiling cracks, on the other hand, can be caused by age or water as well as foundation settlement.
While small cracks from normal foundation settlement are expected, foundation settlement caused by improper soil compaction or other reasons can be the reason that cracks show up on the wall or ceiling. These cracks are the first sign of serious structural damage to come. If the cracks are on your foundation walls, they could signal bowing or tilting walls in the future. If they are on your home walls, they could be a sign that there is foundation damage below. If they’re on your ceiling, they may signal serious foundation damage as well and could be a harbinger of ceiling collapse.
Wall cracks can also be caused by foundation problems like bowing or leaning walls. These stem from hydrostatic pressure in the soil around the foundation that will cause cracks and eventual bowing on your foundation walls. As the walls bow, the first floor and above walls will begin to show cracks and damage as well. If you haven’t looked closely at your basement in a while and begin to see problems like this on the first floor and above, it might be time to take a look. Additionally, they can be caused by frost heave where the soil around the foundation is raised and lowered each time it freezes and thaws and pushes unevenly against the foundation causing cracks and movement. The movement then causes movement in the walls above, resulting in cracks. Usually cracks in first floor walls are not the real problem to deal with, there is something deeper going on with the foundation.
Ceiling cracks, on the other hand, can be caused by age or water problems as well. As homes age, there is wear and tear and the materials will eventually sag and wear out. This can be resolved with maintenance and care. When you see “spider web” cracks, that usually signals that the crack is from age and is part of the house settling over time. Don’t ignore it! Houses need to be taken care of to stay standing, and small cracks can turn into big problems. Water damage can also cause cracks by weakening the plaster or other materials and causing cracks and browning. This is usually caused by exterior waterproofing issues or issues with roofing. Once again, as with walls, the cracks are usually not the problem, but a signal of another problem in the home.
Most cracks in the home are going to be something you want to watch, especially if they show up suddenly and keep growing. In that case, call a professional right away to diagnose the issue. However, if the crack has shown up gradually and is less than the width of a penny, and does not change, it is probably a result of normal settlement and nothing to get too worried about. If the crack is wide, changes drastically over time, or is causing water to seep in, it’s time to take action.
On walls, there are different kinds of cracks that mean different things. Horizontal cracks usually mean that there is a bowing wall. Vertical, Angled, and stair-step cracks mean bowing or settlement. Combination of vertical and horizontal means bowing or settlement as well. However, diagnosing what cracks mean and if they are dangerous to the stability of your home should not be left up to you. Call the experts at Custom Concrete and we’ll give you a free estimate and let you know what we believe the cause of the cracks are and what our solution will be. We can answer any questions that you have about wall cracks at the time of the estimate and after when or if we perform work. As for ceiling cracks, wide cracks will usually mean foundation settlement, spider web cracks will mean aging, and cracks with brown splotches of water damage will mean just that.
Wall cracks can be solved with crack injections that make the wall stronger, but that’s only after we fix the foundation problem that is causing the cracking. This is not a D.I.Y. job where you can spackle over the crack and call it a day. In most cases, it will be a foundation repair job that a professional, like those at Custom Concrete, will perform for you to return your house to the safety, security, and stability that it once had.
Foundation repair options will depend on what the problem that you’re experiencing is and how that is causing the wall cracks that alerted you to the issue. These could range from bowing and leaning walls which will usually be fixed by push piers or helical piers to foundation settlement which may be fixed with the same tools to water damage which will need a waterproofing plan and a plan to install exterior drainage or new roofing. It may seem like it will be a costly processes, but in a lot of cases it is not! This really depends on how late the problem is caught and what the problem is.
If you’ve noticed cracks in your walls or ceiling, and you don’t think that they’re normal settling, it might be time to give Custom Concrete a call. We will provide you with a free estimate, answer any questions that you may have, and discuss in detail our process, plans, and how the problem will be resolved. Give us a call today for more information!