Ask Danny Videos

Do Cracks in Walls Indicate a Structural Problem?

By: Danny Lipford

Do cracks in my walls indicate a structural problem? -Rachel

Most small cracks in drywall or plaster walls are not serious and are caused by seasonal expansion and contraction of the wood framing in your house over time. They’re often found at the corners of window and door frames, and can be patched using spackling or joint compound.

Larger cracks in your walls, however, can indicate structural or foundation problems. If the cracks in your walls exhibit these characteristics:

  • The crack has a 3/16” or wider gap.
  • One side of the wall is higher than the other.
  • Your doors no longer close in the frame.

You may have a structural problem and should have your house examined by a foundation specialist.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

Rachel Asks: I’m seeing a lot of small cracks in my walls. Do I have a structural problem?

Danny Lipford: It’s very unlikely that those small, hairline cracks that you see on the walls in your home, maybe above doors and windows, are actual structural problems. It’s usually just a little thermal expansion that can be repaired very easily by just using a little lightweight spackling.

But the type of crack you really need to be concerned with are those that are little wider than that, maybe three-sixteenth of an inch or more, and where one side of the crack is not level with the other side of the crack. That can indicate some active structural movement.

Also, if you have any doors in your home that don’t fit the jams quite as well as they used to, another tell-tale sign. Either of those situations you need to call out a foundation specialist and allow them to look very closely at that area of your home.



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7 Comments on “Do Cracks in Walls Indicate a Structural Problem?”

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  • Ian Says:
    September 18th, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    I have noticed small cracks on my wall numerous on both sides. They are not opened just noticeable when u look closely. I don’t want my wall fall on us. What should I do? Should I be concerned or should I putty it?



  • JR Says:
    September 8th, 2016 at 11:00 am

    This is a very good article, you definitely want to pay particular attention to the larger cracks. If you suspect any kind of structural damage, I always advise people to contact a structural engineer before getting quotes from foundation repair contractors. The engineer will let you know what needs to be done and that kind of information will save you a lot of money when dealing with contractors.



  • Linda Says:
    July 6th, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    The interior door from garage to kitchen won’t latch when it rains a lot. A very thin crack appears from corner of door frame to ceiling (about 9 inches long)on garage side of wall appears. Once things dry out, it disappears and my door latches fine. I wonder if it could be a serious foundation problem. There are no cracks on the outside of the house walls and none in the foundation.
    We live in South Central Texas and it’s either feast or famine when it comes to rain. We had an exceedingly wet spring. Now it is June and things are dry.

    Linda



  • Trish Says:
    July 3rd, 2016 at 2:22 am

    Hi, Every summer in one corner of my bedroom a knocking sound occurs in the wall cavity and then wakes me earlier and earlier, eventually coinciding with the sun coming up – so for about 3 months the knocking starts at about 5.30am. I can almost pinpoint it. It carries on during the day with less frequency and then as the house cools it starts up again but not quite as bad. I have to move into my guest room for that period of time. This sound then stops after about 3 months despite temperatures still being in the 30’s (Centigrade that is) – heat soaked? It is a tiled roof and there are no pipes or anything like that in that corner of the bedroom and nowhere near any plumbing. There is movement in that corner in that there has been cracking and then severe cracking, all of which has been fixed (3 times)but cracks have reappeared, not severe though. What could it possibly be??? The house is 6 years old. I bought it when it was 3 years old and immediately had solar panels put on. 18 months later the knocking sound started. So for 2 summers this noise has been going on. I would be so grateful if anyone has ever heard of anything like this. Remember, it is a knocking sound, not creaking, metallic, cracking or clanging. Knocking. PLEASE HELP. Do I have to knock a great big hole in the wall?

    Trish



  • Tshenolo Says:
    June 15th, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I have replaced the roof of my house which was covered with roof sheeting by replacing it with concrete tile and now notice the house is showing a lot cracks especially on the coners inside the house,how can I fix this problem.



  • renee benedict Says:
    February 24th, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    ok, ranch home facing west, built in 1959. furnace/laundry room, facing west, front/side of home. hot water tank, washer and chimney in room.no clothes dryer. 7 yrs ago, plaster walls cracked,peeled and blistered. chimney contractor installed new flash and came back 3 times to other repairs until nothing else he could do. mind you, inside walls plaster cracked,peeled and blistered. the furnace,chimney, water tank and vents wall and entrance wall are two walls effected. Mostly cracks on wall at ceiling, peels and blisters. few blisters started 4 to 6 inches from ceiling. After chimney repair, walls replastered. fixed until 3 years ago, same problem with same walls. roof repaired,new windows on outside walls. did not repair walls yet and seems walls are getting worse what in the world causes plaster inside walls at ceiling to crack, peel open and blister???? now there is a crack in the bathroom wall at ceiling , which hasnt been used in years. can a pipe in the wall do it? condensation? furnace room hot and cold? mystery water leak? foundation? old age? poorly mixed plaster? we dont want to fix the walls until we know the source. Roof guy said not the roof. Chimney guy says not that. handyman said condensation from pipe in wall,contrater didnt know.HELP!!! a 94 yr old NANA owns and lives in the house and would like it fixed. what should we do? Thank you



  • krna Says:
    May 22nd, 2015 at 7:11 am

    I got a kind of crack in my ceiling which appeared after a earthquake and in the walls, also, which both are plastered. Is it due to earthquake damaging structure of building?


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