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  • Writer's pictureEngineer Mike

Are drywall cracks signs of structural problems?

Updated: Nov 21, 2023


Cracks around door frames and windows are one of the first things that homeowners may notice, which can indicate structural problems with the home.


 

1. Cracks Around Windows


Drywall distress around windows at the main and upper floors of the living area is typically due to foundation movement. In a finished basement, drywall cracks can be caused by the foundation or basement floor movement. The basement floor, commonly a slab-on-grade (similar to a garage floor), can move and cause cracks and separations around windows.


Drywall crack at the bottom left corner of a window.
Drywall crack at the bottom left corner of a first-floor window.


Drywall crack at the top right corner of a window.
Drywall crack at the top right corner of a first-floor window.


Wide drywall crack between window frame and millwork.
Wide drywall crack between window frame and millwork.


Drywall cracking and distress above a window.
Drywall cracking and distress above a window.


 

2. Doors


Drywall distress around doors at the main and upper floors of the living area is typically due to foundation movement. In a finished basement, drywall cracks can be caused by the foundation or floor movement. The basement floor, commonly a slab-on-grade (similar to a garage floor), can move and cause cracks and separations around doors.


Vertical drywall crack above doorframe.
Vertical drywall crack above interior first-floor doorframe.


Drywall crack at the top left corner of door.
Drywall crack at the top left corner of an interior doorframe.


Drywall crack at the top right corner of a doorframe.
Drywall crack at the top right corner of a basement doorframe.


Drywall crack at the top right corner of a doorframe.
Drywall crack at the top right corner of an exterior doorframe.

 

3. Walls


Drywall distress on walls at the main and upper floors of the living area is typically due to foundation movement. In a finished basement, drywall cracks can be caused by the foundation or floor movement. The basement floor, commonly a slab-on-grade (similar to a garage floor), can move upward and cause cracks and separations on walls.



Vertical drywall crack on a wall.
Drywall crack on second-floor wall.


Drywall crack on wall corner.
Drywall crack on first-floor wall corner.




Drywall crack at wall opening corner.
Drywall crack at corner of first-floor wall opening.


Drywall cracking and distress on basement wall.
Drywall cracking and distress on basement wall.

 

4. Ceilings


Drywall distress on ceilings at the main and upper floors of the living area is typically due to foundation movement. In a finished basement, it can be caused by the foundation or floor movement.


Drywall cracks and separations on ceiling.
Drywall cracks and separations on first-floor ceiling.


Drywall crack at edge of ceiling.
Drywall crack at edge of ceiling.


Drywall cracking and separation on ceiling.
Drywall cracking and separation on kitchen ceiling.


Drywall crack on ceiling.
Drywall crack on bathroom ceiling.

 

5. Garages


In garages, drywall distress on walls, ceilings, around doors, and windows is typically caused by foundation movement.


Drywall crack on garage ceiling.
Drywall crack on garage ceiling.


Drywall cracking and separation on garage ceiling.
Drywall cracking and separation on garage ceiling.


Drywall cracking and separation on garage ceiling.
Drywall cracking and separation on garage ceiling.



 

General Considerations


In general, minimal cracks and separations that may occur at a particular time of the year and then close up as related to seasonal temperatures and humidity may be part of a home's normal structural characteristics and may be of no concern.

However, drywall cracks and separations tend to get wider and longer over time. Whether or not drywall cracks at windows, doors, walls, and ceilings indicate damage to the structure needs to be determined by a qualified forensic professional who can perform an evaluation.



 

I hope this information was helpful to you. For additional topics related to construction defects, go to SiteDamage.com.


Visit my photo collections page, which has examples of damage that can be due to construction defects.  





Mike

Engineer Mike





 

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