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You Found a Crack in Your Ceiling or Wall. How Do You Know if it’s Serious?

You Found a Crack in Your Ceiling or Wall. How Do You Know if it’s Serious?

While deep cleaning, hanging up new family photos, or simply zoning out and scanning the room, it happens: you spot a crack in your home’s ceiling or wall.

Immediately you start to feel nervous. Is your house falling apart? Do you need to worry about the walls caving in? What should you do next? We’ve put together a few questions you can ask yourself to help figure out if your crack is a pressing problem or truly no big deal.

Where is the crack?

Cracks along the edges of your walls and ceiling are often a normal part of your home settling into its foundation over time. If the cracks you find in these areas are small or look a bit like spiderwebs, they probably aren’t cause for concern.

Cracks in the middle of a room can be a sign of a bigger problem, though. You’ll want to get them looked at by a professional just to be safe.

What direction does the crack run?

Vertical cracks are usually less serious than their horizontal counterparts because they run in the same direction as your home’s drywall. They often form as your house settles, and unless they start on a ceiling and continue down into the wall in a straight line, you don’t need to be too concerned.

Horizontal cracks or those that run at jagged angles, though, can be a sign of something more serious, like your home’s foundation actually shifting or even undetected water damage. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to get any crack that runs at a 45-degree angle or less checked out by a professional.

How big is the crack?

This question is pretty straightforward. Small, thin cracks are one of two things: either no big deal at all, or the very beginning of a larger problem that you can keep tabs on. Either way, there’s no need to panic!

Large cracks, on the other hand, are something that you should get evaluated right away. Any opening thicker than a sixteenth of an inch is a potential cause for concern, especially if you feel like it came out of nowhere.

Can you see any “nail pops” near the crack?

A “nail pop” happens when nails or screws pull away from the wooden studs in your wall and stick out on the surface. If you notice any nails changing their appearance, don’t wait to get things checked out — nail pops are associated with serious cracks and drywall movement that can indicate structural problems.

Is your ceiling bowed or dipped?

If you notice any type of crack alongside a “dip” in your ceiling — even if it’s just a small one — it’s time to call in a professional. This is a telltale sign of structural damage, and the sooner you get it taken care of, the quicker and less expensive it will be.

At the end of the day, these questions are helpful to evaluate what’s going on in your home — but if you’re unsure of any crack, bump, or other imperfection you notice in your walls or ceiling, you should get it professionally checked out. We’re here to help you through any questions about what type of damage your homeowners insurance policy covers. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

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