What Causes Cracks in My Walls?

No one wants to see a crack in their ceilings or walls, but sometimes we do. The temptation is to say, “Oh, the house is just shifting,” but, is that all it is? Is shifting normal? What causes these wall cracks? The likely culprit is soil movement, and that’s a common challenge in Texas.

Texas foundation failures claim 20% of the nation’s total. Our state is vast in scope, and weather conditions can be extreme, to say the least. Whether it’s too much water or not enough, the strain on the soil and clay underneath our homes can often lead to cracks in our slabs, brick veneers that pull away, sheetrock splits that deface our walls, or other warning signs of foundation damage.

The reason for this is simple. The ground under our home swells when water is soaked up and it shrinks when the soil dries out. If the water cycle is uniform and fairly consistent, this shrinkage and expansion process happens seamlessly, and our home’s foundation will likely remain stable. Most homes are built for these “ideal” weather conditions and consistent moisture levels. However, as those of us in Texas can confirm by the cracks we often see in buildings and homes, consistent moisture conditions are difficult to maintain here. Instead of ideal conditions, we often experience drastic shifts, and across the state, conditions can vary widely.

A recent map released by the U.S. Drought Monitor  found that 80% of the United States is “abnormally dry” with parts of Texas in “extreme” zones. On the other hand, the Houston, TX area has seen historic rainfall in the last few weeks.  These changes and intense conditions impact the ground that our homes are built on as the soil under the foundation shifts to accommodate the moisture level resulting in unsightly cracks in our walls.

While the weather in Texas is certainly the biggest factor, there could be other causes of the cracks we see. Foundation damage might also come from underground plumbing leaks or poor compacting of the soil when our homes were first built. Clay, rock, and dirt all absorb water differently, and because of this, the foundation of our home might rest upon pockets of water that could cause shifting.

Stress cracks in our walls and even on the outside of our homes can be unsightly, but are they more serious than that? Yes! Exterior bricks and windows can break from the pressure that an uneven foundation puts on them. And in some cases, homes have actually “split” in half causing beam, joints, and roof damage. Once this type of damage has occurred, the cost to repair not only the foundation, but the crippled infrastructure of our home, make it easy to see why foundation repair is in our best interests as homeowners.

Dawson Foundation Repair services homes and commercial businesses all over Texas including Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and other smaller cities. If you have questions about the wall cracks you see, or you know that you have foundation problems, we are here to provide you with a professional opinion, and if necessary, a proven, time-tested, and permanent house leveling solution – Bell Bottom Piers.

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