What do cracked walls mean?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ August 22, 2013 ~ No Comments » | Respond to this question

I am getting cracks in the seams of the walls (where the walls meet) and also in the seam between wall and ceiling. Some of the floors are also warping. Is this normal settling? My house was built in 1988.

-Fern

Jeffrey Anderson

Fern, a house that's 25 years old shouldn't be having the settlement cracks that often occur during the first several years after construction. From your description of what's going on, it sounds to me like the wall and ceiling issues might be caused by changes in the interior temperature.

If you live in an area where there is a substantial difference in winter and summer temperatures, your home is probably expanding and contracting as the seasons change. Using your furnace during the winter and air-conditioning in the summer only compounds the problem. The good news is that this is a common problem and a little bit of spackle and paint should take care of the issue.

However, if those drywall cracks start to become gaps or you see space appearing between your floors and the bottom of the baseboard, then there could be a settlement problem. Unfortunately, it probably won't be the normal settlement that every newly constructed house goes through, but rather a problem with the foundation. If this is what is happening, I suggest contacting a contractor that specializes in foundation issues. Very few foundation problems can be handled by homeowners - especially when a section is beginning to fail.

I'm a bit puzzled by the warped flooring as that doesn't seem to tie in with the wall and ceiling issues. Normally flooring warps due to excessive moisture, and while that can cause drywall tape on walls and ceiling to begin to peel I have not seen it cause cracking. Mold on walls and ceilings is also a good indicator of moisture problems.

If there isn't a lot of humidity in your home and there haven't been any recent water leaks, I'm not sure what would be causing your flooring to warp. However, if what you think is warping is actually buckling or edges are becoming staggered in height, then settlement could be the culprit. It might be a good idea to have a local home inspector take a look at your house so if there is a problem with the foundation, it can be corrected before getting any worse.

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