There is always a cause for a crack in the wall. That cause can be serious and evidence of structural failure. In other cases, a crack is purely surface. Although unsightly, there’s nothing necessarily wrong structurally with your property if the crack happens on the surface.
It’s hard to know what type of crack it is until it’s been inspected and the cause has been determined. Learning the possible causes of cracks in walls will help homeowners determine whether a costly repair is needed. Otherwise, it might be something fixed with a little bit of filler.
Here are the nine different causes of cracks in walls:
Cause #1: Poor Wall Design
Flaws in the construction work, such as improper extension work, can cause wall cracking. Common errors are too much weight on a load-bearing wall, inferior-quality building materials, or an overall faulty or flawed conceptual design. It can take months or potentially years for this type of problem to present.
Cause #2: Water Damage
A highly common reason why cracks in walls form is water damage. This is why basement walls crack in a lot of cases. It could be blocked gutters or flood damage, garden sprinklers installed in the wrong spot, blocked or leaking pipes, and more.
Any circumstances saturating the ground with moisture or washing away soil can put undue pressure on walls, eventually leading to cracking and possibly serious foundation issues.
Cause #3: Settling of the Soil
When a home is built, excavation is required. For homes that require a lot of soil disruption, normally, everything’s compacted and settles. As this happens, this can cause a wall to crack. Unfortunately, there’s not much a builder can do, as it takes years for some excavations to fully settle. This can cause narrow vertical cracks in a lot of cases.
If the crack in wall is significant, it can cause structural faults. Soil can compact too much and even collapse like a sinkhole. This is why inspecting cracks in walls is necessary because it could signify an unsafe property.
Cause #4: Local Construction
It can happen where near a construction site – residential or commercial – will cause cracks to form in your walls. Heavy machinery, vibrations underground, excessive mechanical compaction of soil, or using explosives to excavate can cause the ground to change underneath your property and result in a wall crack.
If you believe this, assessing the cracks is an immediate requirement. It’s urgent. Contact a professional to have a look. If needed, seek legal advice on how to proceed.
Cause #5: Trees in Close Proximity
Believe it or not, trees can be a problem on some properties. Have you ever seen a root structure breakthrough concrete? Like it can happen to a sidewalk or roadway, the same can occur on the wall. Small shrubs or bushes are fine.
Trees next to your foundation wall, however, can invade with their roots, in addition to removing water from the soil. Complicating matters, removing a tree nearby can destabilize the soil, change moisture levels, and cause additional settling that could itself result in wall cracking.
Cause #6: Droughts and Floods
Droughts and floods can cause dramatic changes in the soil or the water table below your property. The soil can contract and expand, depending on moisture. With properties in extreme settings, this can easily lead to wall cracking.
Cause #7: Reactive Soils
Reactive soils are known to expand quite a bit when they come in contact with moisture and subsequently also contract significantly when they’re dry. There are a few common types of reactive soils, including clay.
Examples of non-reactive soils are sand or gravel. If you’re noticing cracks in the walls appearing in two or more areas of your home, having your soil tested will conclude whether reactivity contributes to this damage.
Cause #8: Contraction and Expansion Of Wood
As the temperature changes, wood contracts and expands. This happens very slightly with the wood framing of a home, just like any other type of wood, throughout several changes in seasons. This ongoing contract-and-expand process can cause hairline cracks in plaster walls.
These are often small and cosmetic, for the most part, although you will want to have them inspected and to confirm that that’s all it is. The crack’s location, direction, and severity are sometimes misleading about how serious the underlying issue is.
Cause #9: Degradation of Materials
In time, every home or building will eventually fail. No building material lasts an infinite amount of time. The weight that certain materials are tasked with carrying. Wear and tear from climate, weather, and temperature changes. Poor maintenance.
The steel reinforcements in concrete can rust and degrade when exposed to moisture and salt. These things can cause the structural integrity to start to succumb to failure. Wall cracks are an early sign that something’s wrong and that a building should be expected.