A. M.
A. M.
  • Hometalker
  • Chapel Hill, NC
Asked on Nov 20, 2012

Sheetrock has new crack all of a sudden.

Hamtil Construction LLCJeanette SA. M.
+5

Answered

An inexpensive, wood-sided house built in 1974, in bedroom corner next to closet (middle of outside wall) all of a sudden has a small but noticeable crack with gap all the way from ceiling to floor. After 27 years here, about 6 months ago my husband installed french drain along that outside foundation because yard slopes downhill towards the house...used to pool at foot of deck-style stoop but that pretty much stopped. Also recently installed gutter guards. Yikes, help! Just patch and watch, or what?
8 answers
  • 3po3
    on Nov 20, 2012

    I'm probably just paranoid, but I would spend some money to get a home inspector out there, if nothing else then for peace of mind, since you have drainage issues. I know cracks around doors and windows are pretty common, but I think floor-to-ceiling cracks may be more of a concern. As I said, maybe overkill but it would be nice to have peace of mind.

  • Vertical cracks can be caused by shrinkage of framing members or a settlement of the foundation. The crack as you said is vertical, from floor to ceiling? Looking close at the crack, does each side of it match the other side? Or is there evidence that one side is lower then the other? There are two types of vertical cracks. Shear, and displacement . Shear is when one side or the other drops. Displacement is when the wall is pulled apart due to a pivot that is a right angle to the crack, Sort of like a hinge motion. The crack typically is smaller apart on one end and wider at the other. Do you have a basement underneath? Crawl or slab? If there is visible crack that appears to be in the same area as the crack on the wall? What about outside siding? Type? Is there any evidence of movement or cracking of finish paint on joints between wood, assuming you have painted wood siding outside? Movement is difficult to determine by just seeing it once. You need to patch the crack and repaint. Then watch it for any re-opening of it to determine if its of some importance or just perhaps an earth tremor that caused it. If the crack appears that it is larger on the top, then the bottom as far as width, then you need to look to each side for the foundation settlement. As the foundation drops, it allows the wall to drop as well. This in effect pulls the wall apart ever so slightly. the weakest point being a joint in the drywall that fails. Does the house have any history of insects? Termites can damage the sill which in turn allows for settlement of the wall. That can cause this to occur. I am not overly worried at this point in time as any cause can be simply speculation at this point in time, but you do need to keep an eye on it after sealing opening and painting.

  • A. M.
    on Nov 20, 2012

    Thank you for your responses. There is a crawlspace below, very shallow at that side of the house due to the downhill slope. No visible cracks outside in the foundation or wall. Crack is closed up at the top and bottom, slightly wider in the middle, so also hard to see if one side is lower than the other. No history of insects.

  • would not worry about it. Refinish it and just keep an eye on it. Does not sound like anything is really wrong. Most likely some sort of shrinkage or tremor on building. This does occur on occasion.

  • 3po3
    on Nov 20, 2012

    @A. M. you should definitely lend more credence to Woodbridge than me. Sounds like he knows what he's talking about.

  • A. M.
    on Nov 20, 2012

    Thanks again. Steve: I'm on the paranoid side myself--SO glad for this website to talk me off the ledge!!!

  • Jeanette S
    on Nov 20, 2012

    Having grown up in a part of the country that had a terrible clay beneath the surface that remained dormant until it was uncovered and exposed to the surface elements, Woodbridge is right. I would suggest you do a quick patch and watch it. Believe me, if it is a big problem a little time won't hurt a thing! In fact, I would not be in a rush to spend much time on repairs, but keep track of what is happening.

  • Hamtil Construction LLC
    on Nov 25, 2012

    This has been an extrodinary year for cracks, due to the drought. We have clients that never had a crack tell us they now have them appearing in foundation walls, etc.. It is always particularly bad for foundations when the soil has a high clay content and shrinks a lot. In your case, if there is no obvious foundation cracks or movement, it seems prudent to just keep an eye on the situation.

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