Do Drywall Cracks Indicate Foundation Damage?

Sep 3, 2016

Categories: Foundations

Sheetrock cracks and damage in your home are definitely a cause for concern. As foundation repair specialists in South Carolina, we are often contacted when someone recognizes cracks in their drywall and fears that it may be a result of foundation damage. Although these cracks can be a product of other issues, they are often an indication that your home has sustained foundation damage.

What Other Factors Can Cause Drywall Damage?

It may be difficult to determine if your drywall damage was caused by shifting foundations or if another source is to blame. The best course of action is usually to have a professional inspect the damage to determine the underlying problem. More often than not, we find that drywall cracks are caused by foundation damage, but other possible reasons for interior wall cracks are:

Excess Moisture – Common sense dictates that drywall doesn’t particularly like being damp. It is possible that a buildup of moisture can cause drywall cracks. Moisture accumulation, especially on the studs behind the drywall and on the screws holding the drywall in place, can cause cracks. The natural humidity of the Lowcountry can increase the odds that this damage occurs.

Improper Installation – Installation by an inexperienced contractor can also be the cause of drywall cracks. Proper use of tape and joint compound is imperative during installation. If a step is missed or improperly completed, cracks will begin to form even if no natural damage is present. When this type of damage presents, it is usually because the drywall isn’t secured properly and thus, shifts out of position. It is difficult to differentiate between damage caused by improper installation and foundation shifting.

How Do I Know if Drywall Cracks are Due to Foundation Problems?

While drywall cracks can be caused by the factors listed above, we commonly find that this type of damage is caused by foundation damage.  When a house starts to settle, it will not do so evenly. Uneven settling causes differing amounts of pressure to be put on each individual piece of drywall.  The nature of these shifts reveal clues that the damage is indeed caused by shifting foundations.  The following signs should help you determine whether foundation shifts or another factor is to blame for your interior wall damage:

  • Horizontal cracks, especially where the drywall meets the ceiling, may indicate that the wall is moving down with the foundation, pulling away from the ceiling.
  • Diagonal cracks indicate a similar problem. Smaller hairline cracks may be easily repairable. Larger cracks hint toward a more serious problem that likely requires professional intervention before irreparable damage is done.
  • Nail pops, as we have mentioned before, are a strong indication that foundation settlement is to blame. It takes an impressive amount of force to push a nail out once it has been set.
  • Foundation shifts typically cause doors or windows adjacent to the walls in question to be difficult to open. Look at the frames around your doors and windows as well, especially the corners. If the frame isn’t flush, foundation damage is the likely culprit.

It may be difficult to definitively determine the cause of drywall cracks. If the information above leads you to believe that the source is foundation shifting or you’re still unsure of the cause, give CNT Foundations a call. We have the experience needed to both uncover the cause of your drywall problems and remedy the situation for good.