I have a interior wall crack, what does it mean?

Interior wall cracks.

If you live in the DFW area and own a house, it is a good bet you have at least one wall crack.  What does it mean?  In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we have clay soil.  Clay soil expands when it rains and contracts when it dries out. This change can cause damage when it occurs under or adjacent to a house. So when does a crack caused by clay pushing against your house, then pulling away mean you have a problem?

There are many types of cracks and an inspector has to determine if the crack shows possible foundation failure or if it is another wall crack that most houses in Texas have.

Let’s take a closer look at wall cracks.

When you see a crack in your wall, there are many things you need to consider before calling a specialist. Is it close to a door or under a window? Is the floor sloping around the crack? You also want to look at the shape. Is the crack straight or horizontal? Is there separation? Are windows and or doors close by sticking and or not shutting? Are there other stress indicators on the exterior wall close by? An inspector has to look at all of these things and more to determine when to recommend a foundation specialist.

Straight cracks in joints and corners

Most DFW houses will have corner cracks and or joint cracks.  Joints and corners are where two pieces of drywall come together causing a weak area.  Unless there are other signs of stress in the area these are pretty much just cracks.

wall crack. joint crack 2 wall crack, joint crack 3

Horizontal Cracks.

When a horizontal crack or cracks are found, there is a lot more to consider.  If the crack is under or above a  window and the window opens fine, it may be a sign the house is settling, but the foundation is okay.  The same goes for horizontal cracks above doors. The crack in the first picture is most likely from settling.  The cracks in the second and third pictures are more serious.

A horizontal wall crack in the middle of a wall/ceiling leading from a corner tends to be a little more serious.

The next step to looking at a wall crack is to look at what is going on outside.  If there is a crack on the outside as well, that is a sign your foundation may need to be looked at.

What do you do next?

If you do see a crack that looks like there may be foundation problems,  what should you do?  If you are selling your house, you can get a sellers inspection and see what the inspector finds.  This will also help you locate any other issues you may need to address.   Contacting a foundation company to do a free estimate is another good way to get a look at your foundation.  Always do your research on the company before hiring them.

Remember, a well-maintained home is a happier home!

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