It happens to the best of us: we’re walking through our home, and suddenly we notice a crack in the wall. We ask ourselves, has that always been there, or did it just appear? And more importantly, should I be concerned about it?

Wall cracks can be a normal part of house settling, but they can also warn of more serious foundation problems. If you don’t repair cracks, they can introduce a host of other problems to your home. Even if they aren’t signs of foundation damage, they can eventually cause or contribute to foundation damage by allowing moisture and mold into your home. 

So, how do you know if the crack you’re seeing is a sign of a larger problem? We’ve put together a guide to help you assess the situation and know when to call a professional foundation repair company.

Hairline Cracks Over Doors and Windows

If your home was recently built, a certain amount of cracking is to be expected as the foundation settles. Often, these signs of settling will appear as extremely thin “hairline” cracks running vertically or horizontally above doors and windows. If you notice hairline cracks in a new build, it’s generally best to wait until your home is at least one year old before seeking crack repair. 

However, if you have a crack extending diagonally from the corner of the doorframe or window, this may be a sign of more serious problems, like a shifting or damaged foundation. No matter where you find a crack, it’s advisable to call in a professional for peace of mind one way or the other.

Thin, Straight Cracks

Hairline cracks aren’t limited to appearing above doors and windows. Especially in new homes, thin cracks that run vertically or horizontally are usually normal signs of settling that are easily repaired. They may also occur in homes that are left vacant or without proper temperature control. Depending on the width and length of the crack, the drywall may simply be, well, dry.  A small plaster fill and repainting may be enough to fix the problem. 

If the crack is over ¼-inch wide, however, the cause could be more serious than some dried-out plaster. Structural damage or sinking foundations can cause wider cracks—so make sure to measure the width and call a professional foundation repair service if it exceeds a quarter inch.

A Discolored Crack in the Wall

Discoloration around the edges of cracks is almost always a sign of a leak. These stains may appear yellow or brown, and may even be soft and wet to the touch, especially after storms or snow. Discoloration happens when leaks allow water to flow down the drywall, and seeing a discolored crack in the wall is definitely a sign to take seriously. Whether the leak stems from a broken pipe or structural damage, you should call a professional immediately. 

Moisture is widely considered to be enemy #1 when it comes to timber-framed structures such as houses. No amount of freestanding moisture or mold is acceptable in your home, no matter its age. For the health and safety of both your home and your family, don’t hesitate to call a professional if you spot a discolored crack.

Jagged, Diagonal, or Stair-Step Cracks

Straight cracks can be normal signs of everyday stress, but if the crack is jagged or diagonal, this is a sign that your foundations may be sinking or shifting. These wall cracks can also be early warning signs of wood rot or damage, and should not be put off or ignored. As soon as you notice irregular wall cracks, it’s time to call a trusted foundation repair contractor.

Chances are good that whatever caused your jagged crack won’t stop or slow down. Further foundation damage can do more than just sink your investment in your home. It’s best to get on top of foundations issues as soon as possible. Otherwise, they may contribute to harder and more expensive to repair issues down the road.

When In Doubt, Call the Experts

A crack in the wall isn’t always a sign of serious damage. Left unchecked, however, cracks can allow moisture to invade your foundation, leaving you vulnerable to molds, mildews, and structural damage. 

Rather than taking a crack at it yourself, call in the experts at Foundation Solutions 360 for crack repairs to protect your home—and more importantly, the people in it—for years to come.  

Foundation Solutions 360: Strong Foundations for Safe Families

Veteran-owned and family-operated, Foundation Solutions 360 is ready to put our decades of experience to work for your family’s foundation repair, crawl-space repair, or basement waterproofing needs. If you live in the Metro Detroit, Southern Michigan, or Northern Ohio area, call us at 855-532-5360 or contact us here for a free, no-obligation inspection.