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How to Identify Dangerous Cracks in walls and Ceilings

Updated: 4 days ago

Noticing cracks in your home's walls can be disconcerting. While it's typical for houses to develop such cracks over time, understanding their origins is crucial in determining whether a simple redecoration suffices or if a more complex foundation repair is in order. Let's delve into the causes and implications behind these common occurrences.

Crack in wall from door frame

Causes of Wall Cracks in Homes

Wall cracks in homes can arise from various sources, ranging from benign to potentially serious. Understanding the causes is key to addressing them effectively:

  • Normal wear and tear: As a house settles over time, minor cracks may emerge, particularly above doors and windows, often due to ground shifts and weather fluctuations.

  • Moisture-related issues: The gradual drying of moisture within the construction wood can cause slight shrinkage, leading to small cracks in the walls. Managing moisture levels is crucial to prevent further damage.

  • Leaks and water damage: Discolored cracks with brown or yellow stains may indicate water damage, resulting in weakened drywall that can crack. Identifying and repairing leaks promptly is essential.

  • Structural issues and subsidence: Large cracks exceeding 25mm in width could signify substantial foundation problems or subsidence. Consulting a professional is necessary to assess and address these structural issues effectively.

Dealing with Hairline Cracks in Walls and Ceilings

Hairline cracks in plaster may manifest in various forms, patterns, and lengths. Typically, they do not signal structural failure. Frequently, newly plastered walls or ceilings exhibit these cracks as a result of plaster shrinkage. Here's how to deal with them effectively:

Hairline crack in wall

  • Assessing the severity: Hairline cracks under 1mm wide are typically minor and can be addressed with redecoration. However, it's essential to monitor them for any signs of worsening.

  • Minor cracks in walls and ceilings: Clean the area around the crack, apply filler or spackling compound, sand the surface, prime, and paint to blend the repair with the surrounding wall or ceiling.

Minor Crack Repair Guide

For hairline cracks under 1mm wide, here's a simple guide to minor crack repair:

  1. Prepare the Surface: Clean the area around the crack with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris. Allow it to dry completely.

  2. Apply Filler: Use a lightweight filler or spackling compound to fill the crack. Apply the filler with a putty knife, pressing it firmly into the crack and smoothing it out.

  3. Sand the Surface: Once the filler has dried according to the manufacturer's instructions, use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface. This will blend the filler with the surrounding wall.

  4. Prime and Paint: Apply a coat of primer to the repaired area to ensure proper adhesion of the paint. Once the primer is dry, paint the wall to match the surrounding area.

  5. Inspect and Touch Up: After the paint has dried, inspect the repaired area to ensure it blends seamlessly with the rest of the wall. If necessary, touch up any imperfections with additional paint.

Expert Tip: It's important to follow each step carefully to ensure a seamless repair. Taking the time to properly prepare the surface and apply the filler will result in a professional-looking finish that effectively hides the crack.

How to Assess the Severity of Wall Cracks in Your House

Assessing the severity of wall cracks in your house is crucial to determine the appropriate course of action. Here's what to consider:

  • Size and location: Minor cracks under 1mm wide are common and may only require redecoration. Slight cracks up to 5mm wide might need filler or re-pointing. Moderate to severe cracks may necessitate professional intervention, especially if they exceed 15mm in width.

  • Structural implications: Cracks exceeding 25mm in width could indicate serious structural issues and require immediate attention from a professional.

Effective Solutions for Plaster Crack Repair in Homes

Plaster crack repair in homes requires effective solutions to prevent further damage and maintain the aesthetic appeal of your walls. Here are some options:

  • Filler or spackling compound: Minor plaster cracks can be filled with a lightweight filler or spackling compound and smoothed out for a seamless finish.

  • Mesh tape and joint compound: For larger plaster cracks, apply mesh tape over the crack and cover it with joint compound for added reinforcement.

  • Professional repair: For severe plaster cracks or extensive damage, consider hiring a professional plasterer or contractor for expert repair and restoration.

Insurance Coverage for Wall Crack Repairs in Buildings

Understanding your insurance coverage for wall crack repairs in buildings is essential to avoid unexpected expenses. Here's what you need to know:

  • Subsidence coverage: Subsidence-related cracks are usually covered by buildings insurance if no prior history exists. However, coverage may vary depending on your policy and provider.

  • Exclusions: Cracks resulting from poor workmanship, faulty materials, or inadequate foundations may not be covered by insurance. It's essential to review your policy carefully to understand any exclusions.

Preventing and Managing Moisture-Related Wall Cracks

Moisture-related wall cracks can be prevented and managed with proper maintenance and care. Here are some tips:

  • Maintain proper ventilation: Ensure good airflow throughout your home to prevent moisture buildup, especially in areas prone to humidity such as bathrooms and kitchens.

  • Address leaks promptly: Repair any leaks in plumbing or roofing to prevent water damage and subsequent wall cracks.

  • Use moisture-resistant materials: Consider using moisture-resistant drywall and paint in areas susceptible to moisture to minimize the risk of wall cracks.

Identifying Structural Issues Causing Wall Cracks

Identifying structural issues causing wall cracks is essential for effective repairs and maintenance. Here's what to look out for:

major crack in wall

  • Signs of subsidence: Cracks that widen over time, especially those exceeding 25mm in width, may indicate subsidence or significant structural issues.

  • Uneven floors or walls: Sagging floors or walls and doors that no longer close properly could be signs of underlying structural problems.

  • Consult a professional: If you suspect structural issues causing wall cracks in your home, it's crucial to consult a structural engineer or building professional for a thorough assessment.

Expert Advice on Handling Subsidence-Related Wall Cracks

Subsidence-related wall cracks require expert advice and intervention to prevent further damage. Here's what you need to know:

  • Contact your insurance provider: If you suspect subsidence-related wall cracks, contact your insurance provider to initiate the claims process. Most standard buildings insurance policies cover damage due to subsidence, but coverage may vary.

  • Consult a structural engineer: A qualified structural engineer can assess the extent of the damage and recommend appropriate repair measures, which may include underpinning or rebuilding affected areas.

Determining if Wall Cracks Indicate Foundation Problems

Determining if wall cracks indicate foundation problems is crucial for maintaining the structural integrity of your home. Here's how to assess the situation:

severe crack in bricks

  • Size and severity: Cracks exceeding 25mm in width or those that widen over time are indicators of potential foundation problems and require immediate attention.

  • Visible signs of foundation issues: Look for other signs of foundation problems, such as uneven floors, sticking doors or windows, or gaps between walls and floors.

  • Consult a professional: If you suspect foundation problems causing wall cracks in your home, it's essential to consult a foundation specialist or structural engineer for a thorough assessment and recommended repairs.

If you've identified cracks in your walls or ceilings and are in need of professional assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to us at Lepage Builders. Our experienced team specializes in wall and ceiling repairs, and we're here to help restore the integrity and beauty of your home. Contact us today for a free quote and expert guidance on your repair needs.


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