Looking for information about cracks in wall corners? If so, don’t hit that back button because you’ve landed on the right page. In this article, we’ll review the causes of cracks in wall corners, how they’re repaired, when to worry about a wall crack, and more.
What Causes Cracks in Wall Corners?
Cracks in wall corners are a common problem, especially in older homes. The two leading causes are drywall issues and differential foundation settlement.
1. Differential foundation settlement
Differential settlement – or when a foundation settles unevenly into the ground – is a leading cause of cracks in wall corners. This is because differential settlement puts stress on the foundation, leading to various issues, including wall cracks. Differential settlement is a structural problem and should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent more extensive damage to the home.
What causes differential settlement?
Several factors can contribute to differential settlement, including the following:
- Expansive soil – Expansive soil is a type of soil that swells when it soaks up water and shrinks when it dries out. This creates movement under the foundation and can eventually lead to differential settlement.
- Erosion-prone soil – Other soil types are prone to erosion caused by heavy rainfall, runoff, or improper drainage systems. Over time, soil erosion can create voids under the foundation, leading to differential settlement.
- Seismic events – Earthquakes cause ground shaking, liquefaction, and foundation movement. These can cause significant damage to buildings and other structures.
- Inadequate soil preparation – Soil compaction is an essential process that involves using machinery to increase the density of the soil, thereby ensuring stability and uniformity. Without proper compaction before construction starts, the building could settle into the ground unevenly.
2. Drywall issues
Various problems with the drywall can also cause cracks in wall corners. These include poor installation (improper taping, not even drywall mud, too much mud, etc.), moisture infiltration, and temperature changes. These cracks usually don’t indicate a structural problem and can be easily fixed with proper drywall repair techniques.
It’s important to note that even if cracks in wall corners aren’t caused by a structural issue, they can still be unsightly and affect the overall appearance of the home. Therefore, it’s essential to address the issue promptly to maintain the value and aesthetics of your property.
How Are Cracks in Wall Corners Repaired?
The repair solution for cracks in wall corners will depend on what caused the crack. If the crack was caused by improper drywall installation, a drywall installer can usually fix the damage relatively quickly using tape and joint compound. The tape is applied to the joint, and then joint compound is used to cover the tape. After it’s dry, the joint compound can be sanded and painted over. For larger drywall cracks, a professional may recommend replacing the entire drywall section.
If the crack was caused by differential settlement, the most common repair solution is underpinning using piers. Underpinning is a job for experienced foundation repair contractors and should never be attempted as a DIY project. For more information about foundation underpinning, see What Homeowners Need To Know About Foundation Stabilization.
When to Worry About a Crack in a Wall Corner
As noted above, some cracks in wall corners are just unsightly, caused by things like improper drywall installation. These usually aren’t anything to worry about.
You should worry about cracks caused by differential foundation settlement because they indicate your home has already suffered structural damage.
Common Signs of Differential Foundation Settlement
Signs of differential foundation settlement include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- Doors and windows that don’t open and close properly
- Uneven floors
- Bowed and/or cracked foundation walls
- Cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings
- Stair step cracks in brick or masonry
- Chimneys or porches that are leaning away from the house
If you notice any of the above or anything else that seems suspicious, immediately contact a professional foundation repair contractor and ask for an inspection. Foundation problems spotted early cost less to repair. By acting fast, you’ll save money.
Tips on How to Help Prevent Foundation Problems
Foundation problems can often result in expensive repairs for homeowners, making it crucial to take proactive measures to prevent them. Since water is the leading cause of foundation issues, you can go a long way toward avoiding trouble by controlling groundwater. Here are some ways to do that:
- Regrade your yard – Make sure the yard around your home is sloped away from the foundation. This will ensure groundwater drains away from the foundation.
- Clean gutters regularly – Leaves, dirt, and other debris can accumulate in gutters, causing water to overflow the side of the house and soak the ground around the foundation. By keeping gutters clean, water will flow freely and be directed away from the foundation.
- Use downspout extensions – Downspout extensions ensure runoff is directed away from the foundation before release. We recommend releasing runoff no less than 15 feet from the foundation.
- Install a drain tile system – A drain tile system collects water around the foundation and directs it away from the home. When it comes to foundation waterproofing, nothing beats a drain tile system. See How A Drain Tile System Can Save You Money for more information.
- Keep trees away from the foundation – Large trees can have extensive root systems that can cause damage to the foundation over time.
If you’re in Chicagoland and concerned about cracks in the corners of your wall, contact us today to schedule an evaluation. If we find a problem, we’ll give you a repair estimate.