Q&A / 

Understanding House Settling Cracks


Cracks happen for all sorts of reasons. Different construction materials have different expansion and contraction coefficients, some materials change shape and size as they absorb water and water vapor while materials immediately adjacent to them do not budge, and Mother Earth is a dynamic body - meaning soils can move!

Understanding House Settling Cracks

If you have an understanding as to why cracks happen, then you can often work to make permanent repairs. There are some cracks that can't be easily repaired. What's more, it is hard to totally disguise some cracks. Large houses have joints within them. These are places where the house relieves movement, just like the joints in our fingers, arms and legs. I often see cracks in modern homes where columns support beams. You can see cracks right where the contact point between these two structural members meet.

Hardwood floors often develop cracks. There are all sorts of reasons for that to happen, and almost always they can be traced to a humidity or moisture problem.

Soil Problems

I routinely act as an expert witness in court cases involving poor quality construction. Recently, I finished a case that involved a house built on poor soil. The foundation actually dropped several inches in numerous places and caused all sorts of havoc within the home and in its outside walls. There were huge vertical cracks in the brick work, the basement floor looked like an earthquake had struck and interior steel I-beams were twisted and compressed so much that they were crushing 2x4 plates. I was amazed at what can really happen when houses are built on poor soil.

The insurance company needs to be sent a copy of the letter to put them on notice of a possible claim. These letters need to be sent to both companies via certified mail with a return receipt being sent to you. Keep these very valuable receipts.

Column B288

SPONSORS / 

9 Responses to Understanding House Settling Cracks

  1. My house is forever cracking since I renovated and this has really become costly over the past 5 years. The cracks are on the walls and floor especially where the new and old structures are joint together. I need to mention that the area is on a clay soil which looks like the building is "moving" all the times. How can I stop this from going on?
    Search instead for My house is forever cracking since I renovated and this has really become costly over the past 5 years. The cracks are on the walls and floor especially where the new and old strucures are joint together. I need to mention that the area is on a clay soil which looks like the building is "moving" all the times. How can I stop this from going on?
    .

  2. My wife and I are looking at purchasing our first home. It is a townhouse with beautiful granite counters and wood rails. We were also impressed with the tiled floors, however, there is a crack from the front door to the back along the nicely layed tile. The only other settlement evidence is in the top right hand corner of the door frame. This TH is only 6.5 years old and on the market for 73k. The big question is will the settlement problems stop there or should we let this great deal pass and look for something else.

  3. Tim, I have a new construction home, 3500sqft plus walkout basement. Every night I hear *very* loud popping noises, sounds like possibly in attic. Additional details - live in Michigan, soil seems sandy around home, no cracks in drywall, 1-2 nailpops, and if I had to guess I'd say my house is pretty dry even though I have a humidifier. Any suggestions on what I might do to make sure this is nothing major before my warranty runs out shortly? Thanks for your feedback I really appreciate it.

  4. Me and my partner live in a rented 1st floor flat with our 2 children and have been here 2 years. The longer I stay here the worse the cracks in the ceiling are getting the run the length of the house from one room to the next and even through light fittings. The frontroom one has a huge crack through the light fitting and you can clearly see its a deep crack. The bedroom has had wallpaper put up on the ceiling which wasnt noticed till we had been here a few months and the wallpaper is starting to bow in areas. How dangerous is this and can it be easily fixed?

  5. I have avertical crack in my 1930s semi from upstairs window to my window below, it goes right through to inside, I am sooo worried, is this something to worry about, is it serious or easily fixed. I do have a surveyor coming tomorrow but cannot sleep

  6. I'm a disabled vet and I just moved into my newly constructed home in September 2014. A few days after moving in, I noticed two long cracks in the garage foundation and three days later, two more. Took photos and informed builder, was assured it was only the house settling and not to worry.
    Last week, I noticed a foot long jagged crack running along the ceiling in my living room (have recessed ceilings) and the start of cracking on all four corners. Builder says same thing, the house is settling.
    I admit not being construction saavy, but that didn't reassure me. Should I be worried and should I be looking for a Home Inspector since I haven't been in the home two months?
    What else should I be looking for?

    • I urge you to READ all my columns about: Settlement cracks, concrete shrinkage and ALL columns in my Structural category. Your answers are there. Bottom Line: Your builder is very likely B * * * S * * * ing you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>