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Georgia’s Guide to Wall Cracks

Stair-step cracks on wall

Spotting a crack in the wall may not seem like a big deal to many homeowners, but this issue is not something to brush off. If the wall cracks resemble a March Madness bracket, your foundation and home could be in serious trouble. 

A crack in the wall affects more than your home’s aesthetics. While some cracks are minor and harmless, others that keep growing are symptoms of underlying foundation and safety issues. 

In this article, we’ll explore different wall cracks you may notice, what they mean, and how foundation repair experts can best help you address them. 

Types of Wall Cracks

Like shells on a beach, wall cracks come in all shapes and sizes. 

 The most common types of cracks you may encounter around your home include: 

vertical drywall cracks by door

Vertical Cracks

Vertical cracks span the length of the wall, meaning they run up or down the wall. They can be seen both inside and outside your home. 

horizontal basement wall crack

Horizontal Cracks

Cracks can appear to be parallel to the floor and run the entire horizontal length of the wall. They also can be found in and around your house, and often accompany inward bowing. 

stair-step wall cracks

Stair-Step Cracks

You may also see cracks that form in an ascending or descending pattern resembling stairs. 

They often accompany horizontal cracks and are common along mortar joints in interior or exterior concrete block or brick walls. 

diagonal drywall crack

Diagonal Cracks

Similarly, diagonal cracks can form along corners and spread at an angle. 

Most Common Places to See Wall Cracks

Wall cracks are visible inside your house, as well as on the home’s exterior, in areas such as: 

exterior foundation wall with cracks

Foundation Walls

Your foundation walls, whether inside or outside your home, can often feature a variety of cracks. 

Inside your basement, vertical, horizontal, and stair-step cracks are telltale signs of problems. 

Likewise, exterior portions of your foundation wall, as shown in this photo, may show visible fractures. 

Doorframes and Window Frames

Diagonal cracks and stair-step cracks are most often seen coming off corners of window and door frames. They can be on the inside of your home’s first floor or an exterior wall. 


Similarly, vertical and diagonal wall cracks commonly form in the drywall on your main floor and upper floors. They can even show up in your finished basement. 

Where the Wall Meets the Ceiling

The plaster or drywall where the wall meets the ceiling of your main floor and upper floors can have horizontal cracks. It might appear like someone has tried to pry the ceiling and wall apart. 

cracked brick wall

Exterior Brick

Brick exteriors are popular choices for homeowners across the country, especially in Georgia. 

Brick can easily display different kinds of cracks. Horizontal and vertical fractures can sometimes be seen, but stair-step cracks following the mortar joint are the most common in brick exteriors. 

Causes of Wall Cracks

Wall cracks are typical visual symptoms of foundation damage. Depending on the type of crack and its location, each indicates certain causes, including: 

The soil under your house is the root cause of phenomena like foundation settlement and hydrostatic pressure. Let’s explore more below. 

        Unstable Soil

        Most of the soil in Atlanta, Athens, and throughout the rest of Georgia is red clay. This soil reacts differently to moisture, or lack thereof. 

        It dries out and shrinks during periods of drought, most often during hot summer months. 

        It also expands when wet, which frequently happens throughout the year. Atlanta, in particular, usually gets 52 inches of rain every year. This is well above the national average. 

        Drought is often followed by heavy rain that the soil cannot handle. The continuous expansion and contraction of the soil, as well as oversaturation, leaves your home’s foundation on unsure footing. It then results in foundation settlement and hydrostatic pressure. 

        Foundation Settlement

        Due to the soil’s constant movement, the foundation will also move. 

        Whether Georgia’s clay soil is too wet or too dry, unstable soil cannot support your foundation or home. 

        In an effort to find stable ground, the footing will settle into the earth, often unevenly. When one section of your footing settles faster than the rest of the structure, you’ll easily notice problems like wall cracks. 

        Hydrostatic Pressure

        Another problem with overly saturated soil is hydrostatic pressure

        As water from frequent precipitation drains into the clay soil, it swells and expands. The problem is compounded if your home lacks proper foundation drainage. 

        As the wet soil swells, it pushes on your basement walls. The resulting force is often enough to push the wall inward, leading to wall cracks, bowing, and leaks. 

        Solution: Foundation or Wall Repair

        crew installing wall braces in basement

        Whether you want to repair wall cracks or head them off at the pass, having professionally installed solutions is always the best approach. 

        Many wall cracks will only get worse, not better, with time. Don’t let these issues progress to the point of foundation instability. 

        Problems with DIY Repairs

        You should not attempt to install any fixes on your own for the following reasons: 

        • Temporary solutions 
        • Require continued investment and installation 
        • Costs add up over time 
        • Do not address root causes 
        • Not warrantied 

        What You Get with Professional Repairs

        Installing solutions ranging from pier systems and support posts to wall anchors and wall beams is best left to trained professionals because of: 

        • Customizable systems 
        • Permanent repairs 
        • High-quality materials 
        • Fast, effective installation 
        • Long-term, transferrable warranties 

        Call AquaGuard for a Free Quote

        You and your family deserve a safe living environment, and this is achievable with assistance from local foundation repair experts like AquaGuard Foundation Solutions. 

        Our team has been inspecting and repairing foundations in Georgia for more than 25 years. You can trust us to fix your foundation the right way the first time with repairs tailored to meet its specific needs. 

        Ensure the safety of your home and family today by contacting us to book your free foundation inspection and repair estimate. It just takes a few minutes to get started, and the results will last a lifetime. 

        Wall Cracks FAQ

        Not all wall cracks spell doom for your house. Shrinkage or hairline cracks that form in poured concrete early after construction are typically harmless. 

        Others, like actively growing horizontal or stair-step cracks, need professional attention ASAP. 

        Caulk is easy to install on your own, but it’s only a cosmetic fix that masks the appearance of cracks. 

        It does nothing to repair the cracks or prevent them from getting worse. 

        To address the root cause of the cracks and permanently repair them, it’s best to have a thorough assessment completed by a foundation repair professional, followed by the installation of long-lasting solutions. 

        Foundation problems are common around greater Atlanta because of the area’s red clay soils. These soils expand and contract in different types of weather, shrinking when dry and swelling when wet. 

        This means the soil is constantly moving. 

        When the soil cannot provide a stable base for your home’s foundation, your foundation will shift out of place in an effort to seek that needed stability. 

        When the foundation moves and settles, you’ll notice different symptoms such as: 

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