Cracks, Wall & Ceiling Warning Signs
“A partial split or break; a fissure.”
“That’s how the dictionary defines a crack. As a home inspector, I see cracks as the writing on the wall. Generally, the crack itself is not the trouble, but is an indication of an underlying problem. Unfortunately, that underlying problem might not be apparent during a home inspection. Sometimes the reason for a crack is only discovered after continuous monitoring of the crack.”
This information is taken from a great article by Frank Ross in The Spectrum . Many times in the course of Home Inspection we are looking not only for obvious problems, but the symptoms of bigger problems, cracks fall into that category. The nature of concrete itself, the way that it dries and shrinks, and the fact that home do settle over time can lead at times to cracks that are simply superficial. They are visually unappealing, but nothing to worry about structurally. The type of cracks that do need further investigation are outlined in the article as well:
“When a crack is wider than 1/2”, or there is evidence of side to side movement (the two sides of the crack no longer line up), or one half is significantly higher than the other (such as when a walkway crack represents a trip hazard), then it’s worth making a note and recommending further evaluation.”
You need to be aware that settling or movement in the foundation can cause cracks to appear in the interior of the home. Sometimes a crack in the drywall that extends diagonally from the corner of a door or window is a sign of this problem. If there has been enough movement, the door or window may not even operate properly anymore. Stucco is another substance that often cracks when it dries, however Stucco being generally an aesthetic application is not usually a sign of any issues with construction or foundation problems.
A qualified, certified Home inspector can let you know which cracks are simply ugly to look at and which ones may be a problem in the wallet further down the road.