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Drywall Cracks: Should I Be Concerned?

large crack in tan drywall

Wall cracks are common in both old and new homes. Sometimes, these cracks are just cosmetic and innocent, but most often, they appear because of “settling”—when a home shifts and sinks into the soil over time. While every building experiences some kind of settling, it’s never a good thing.

Still, how can you know whether your wall cracks are a cosmetic or a foundation issue? On this page, we’ll clear it up.

If there’s one thing we want you to take from this page, it’s this: even the smallest drywall cracks have the chance to get worst. The wises thing you can do is to have have foundation repair expert inspect your home for foundation issues.

What Are Drywall Cracks?

Drywall cracks are exactly what they sound like: fissures found on drywall inside a home. Most often, they stem from foundation settlement. While any type of crack in drywall isn’t good, not all drywall cracks are equal. It’s important to understand which ones indicate severe damage and which ones are less severe, but could get worse down the line.

Hairline Cracks

Hairline cracks are the most common cracks found in drywall, and they are often found above doors and windows. During the construction of a home, builders place wall studs (wooden support beams that extend vertically from the floor to the ceiling) to support the drywall.

In order to insert doors and windows, some of these studs have to be cut. This means that the areas above doors and windows are often weaker than other parts of the wall. When the home shifts, these weak sections will crack first.

Hairline cracks are usually small, which makes them easy to ignore—but they shouldn’t be. Some will say that hairline cracks are just a cosmetic issue, but it still stems from foundation settlement.

hairline cracks above a white door

Large Cracks

Large, jagged cracks in drywall are a clear sign that a home’s foundation is sinking unevenly. These types of cracks can appear anywhere drywall is present, including the ceiling (as you can see in the image).

Not only do large drywall cracks indicate structural damage, they also cause other issues like sticking doors and windows or nail pops. Large cracks are hard to ignore, and they should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

large horizontal crack running along a ceiling

When Are Drywall Cracks a Problem?

There’s a misconception that hairline cracks are simply a cosmetic issue caused by “normal settlement”. While its true that most homes experience some type of settlement, that doesn’t make it “normal”. There’s always a chance your home won’t experience severe settling, it’s best to address the issue early on to prevent the possibility of major movement in the future.

That’s why you should never ignore drywall cracks—they will only get worse over time. Whether you have hairline cracks or large cracks in your drywall, any damage should be treated as a problem. We don’t want to see your home suffer because of a few overlooked cracks.

How to Fix & Prevent Drywall Cracks

When the foundation of a house shifts or settles unevenly, it leads to stress on the building’s frame, which in turn causes cracks in the drywall. One effective method to address and prevent these types of drywall cracks is through the installation of foundation piers. Here’s how foundation piers help:

Repairing Drywall Cracks With Foundation Piers

Foundation piers are long, steel or concrete posts inserted deep into the ground beneath a house’s foundation. They are designed to stabilize and lift a settling foundation, redistributing the weight of the house to more stable soil layers deep below the surface.

There are different types of piers, including push piers, helical piers, and slab piers, each suited to different situations and foundation types. No matter what type of pier is used, the installation process is similar:

  1. Assessment and Planning: The first step involves a professional inspection to determine the cause and extent of the foundation issues. If the inspection concludes that foundation settling or shifting is causing the drywall cracks, a plan for pier installation is developed.
  2. Installation of Piers: The chosen types of piers are then attached to the affected areas of the foundation. Once attached, the next step involves driving the piers deep into the ground until they reach stable soil or bedrock.
  3. Foundation Lifting: Once the piers are securely in place, hydraulic jacks are used to gently lift the foundation back to its original level. This process must be done carefully to avoid additional damage.
  4. Stabilization: After the foundation has been lifted and leveled, the piers are locked in place. This stabilizes the foundation, prevents further settling, and closes drywall cracks in your home (making it easier to patch over the damage).
Alpha Foundations installer driving a helical pier into soil.

Preventing Future Drywall Cracks

Installation foundation piers addresses the underlying cause of the drywall cracks, which helps prevent future cracks from forming. With the foundation stabilized, the home’s structural integrity is restored, significantly reducing the stress on the walls and, consequently, the likelihood of new drywall cracks developing.

There are other steps you can take to help the piers work as effectively as possible. Consider the following:

  • Regular Inspections: Work with Alpha Foundations to regularly inspect your foundation for signs of stress or damage.
  • Proper Drainage: Ensure that water drains away from the foundation to prevent soil erosion and uneven settling.
  • Maintain Soil Moisture: Keep the soil around your foundation consistently moist to prevent excessive expansion and contraction, which often leads to foundation settlement.

By addressing the root cause of drywall cracks with the installation of foundation piers, you not only fix the existing cracks but also take a significant step towards protecting your home from future structural issues.

Drywall Cracks FAQs

These cracks are generally found in main living areas. Typically, drywall cracks appear around door and window frames because these areas don’t shift along with the foundation. This resistance causes the surrounding wall to fracture, leaving behind visible cracks.  

The duration of the repair process can vary depending on the extent of the damage, the methods used for repair, and weather conditions. Generally, foundation repair can be completed in a day or two, but more extensive damage might require a week or more. It’s best to consult with our specialists for an accurate timeline for your specific case. 

Generally, homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage caused by “settling, cracking, or shrinking” of the foundation. However, if the foundation cracks were caused by a covered issue like a natural disaster, you might be eligible for coverage. It’s crucial to read your insurance policy carefully and consult with your insurance agent for specifics.

Schedule a Free Foundation Inspection With Alpha Foundations

Alpha Foundations installer holding a helical pier over right shoulder and smiling.

Have you noticed drywall cracks in your home but are unsure if you should be concerned? Consider working with Alpha Foundations—accreditations from the Better Business Bureau and Florida’s leading foundation repair company for over 20 years.

We serve homeowners across the Sunshine State, providing world-class foundation repair solutions. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection and secure your foundation well into the future!

Ted Dryce

Ted Dryce

Content Writer

Ted is an SEO Content Writer who has been with Groundworks since 2021. He’s covered home repair topics ranging from crawl space encapsulation to regional soil conditions. When he’s not working, Ted is performing improv comedy and working on his own creative projects.

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