How severe are drywall cracks? How are they identified? What are the risks of drywall cracks?
Drywall cracks are usually one of the first signs of structural issues that a homeowner might notice. Drywall cracks tend to develop on the weakest parts of a wall, usually above doors or windows, and are often accompanied by other cosmetic defects, such as sloping floors, cracked doorways, and cracked tile or hardwood floor finishes. They can be indicative of problems as minor as seasonal humidity changes or as major as severe foundation settlement or framing deterioration due to rot or wood destroying insects.
What causes drywall to crack? Any underlying factors behind cracked drywall?
Drywall cracks can be caused by minor seasonal changes in temperature and humidity, or they can be the result of structural problems. Foundation settlement or framing deterioration (due to rot or wood destroying insects) are severe structural problems that may first be identified by cracked drywall. Improperly sized or connected framing, settled interior support piers, settled foundation walls and slabs, or deteriorated framing can all cause cracks in drywall finishes.
How are drywall cracks fixed? What methods are used to correct cracked drywall?
Most drywall crack repairs are cosmetic in nature and merely address the appearance of the crack itself. However, unless the underlying causes of the cracks are identified and addressed, the cracks will typically come back after a short time. Repairing drywall cracks for lasting results often involves permanently stabilizing or reinforcing the supporting structural elements.
Cost of Inaction
What is the potential cost of inaction (financially, physically)? How does cracked drywall worsen over time?
Minor cracks related to seasonal changes are usually not indications of major concerns. Recurring cracks or drywall cracks larger than 1/8″ wide are usually signs of significant structural concerns that should be addressed as soon as possible. As the structural components of a home continue to settle, deflect, or deteriorate, the cracks will tend to lengthen and widen. The financial impact of inaction ranges from relatively minor to quite expensive, depending on the underlying structural causes which are causing the cracks to occur.