Georgia’s Guide to Wall Cracks: Causes, Fixes, and More
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, as you can see here, 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:
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Vertical cracks span the length of the wall, meaning they run up or down the wall. This is obvious in the first photo above.
They can be seen both inside and outside your home.
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, which you can see in the second photo in the gallery.
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.
Similarly, diagonal cracks can form along corners and spread at an angle.
Where You See Cracks
As we’ve briefly touched on, wall cracks are visible inside your house, as well as on the home’s exterior in areas such as:
- Foundation wall
- Doorframes/window frames
- Where the wall and ceiling meet
- Exterior brick
Here is a closer look at exactly where you will most likely notice them.
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 – like the one in the gallery higher on the page – 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, which you can see in the above photo gallery.
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.
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
More often than not, wall cracks are symptoms of foundation damage. Depending on the type of crack and its location, each indicates certain causes, including:
- Unstable soil
- Hydrostatic pressure
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.
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.
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 Repair
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: