Wall cracks may appear to be simple, surface blemishes, a blight on the appearance of your home and nothing more. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
If cracks appear stepped, horizontal or appear in corners, internal and external walls, it’s highly likely your home has deeper, structural problems.
Read on to find out what these problems might be — and if you need a structural inspection by a remedial engineer.
Your home sits on reactive clay soils
Reactive clay soils are one of the biggest causes of wall cracks in homes.
As temperatures and atmospheric conditions change throughout the year, reactive clay soils change too. Reactive clay contracts when it gets hot and dry. As it gets cool and wet, reactive clay expands.
Wall cracks caused by reactive clay soils often appear on both internal and external walls. Cracks of such a nature indicate an uneven expanding and contracting of the reactive clay under your home.
This unevenness is what places intense pressure on the foundations of your home and in turn, the overall structure.
Your home is too heavy
When your home’s structure can no longer bear its weight, wall cracks appear.
Residential structures are constructed to hold only so much weight. This means extra additions like wall extensions are going to create far too much force upon your home’s structure as well as the soil on which it sits.
Damage can go well beyond wall cracks when the weight and force aren’t evenly dispersed. If you’ve made structural additions to your home and wall cracks have appeared, get in touch with a remedial engineer right away.
Your home has bad drainage
You wouldn’t think it but bad drainage is one of the most common causes of wall cracks in residential structures.
Cracked pipes, unconnected pipes and broken drains send water straight into the ground on which your home sits. As liquids leak over time, they erode soil. The ground becomes unstable as voids develop and aeration occurs.
As the ground shifts ever so slowly under your home, pressure builds against your home’s structure, resulting in wall cracks.
Your home’s materials are expanding and/or shrinking
Over a year, some clay bricks can expand up to a few millimeters.
Over many years or even decades, this expansion begins creating extra lateral force which results in wall cracks.
Concrete walls can operate in reverse. As time passes and concrete ages, it can retract in size and deflect which also results in cracks.
Your home has been poorly constructed
Something you can never tell when buying a home is if the people who constructed it did so in a hurry, taking shortcuts. You only find out later when wall cracks begin appearing.
Very often, builders and contractors forget to compact the ground. This means the surface on which your home was built shifts over time. This inevitably results in wall cracks.
Builders and contractors can also forget to implement quality drainage. This leads to soil erosion over time, again resulting in wall cracks.
What to do about your wall cracks
In a best-case scenario, your home’s wall cracks will be superficial — but you can never be too sure. If you’re in any doubt, get an expert to inspect the structural integrity of your home.
Don’t wait. Waiting too long could lead to further damage and a higher repair bill in the future.
A remedial engineer is your best bet. They’ll analyse your house from top to bottom and offer appropriate, cost-effective and permanent solutions your regular home builder can’t.
Note: This blog was originally posted on sourceable.net