Cracks in drywall: who do we call?
October 22, 2016 10:26 AM   Subscribe

We recently noticed some cracks in the drywall around a little alcove in our kitchen. The cracks appear right on the seam of the drywall where the wall angles away from the main kitchen wall. They're on both sides of the alcove. It looks to me like a patch job was done before, and I am concerned this is pointing to something more serious. Is it just a patch job over some poor drywalling, or should I be calling somebody in? If so, who? Photos are here.

Not sure if it makes a difference but this is in southern Ontario, Canada.

The house is just shy of 40 years old; we moved in in June. We bought it from the original owner who apparently took very good care of the place, based on everything we've seen. (For what it is worth, every trade we've ever had in the house has commented on how well built it seems to be.)

There have been no major renovations done, though we replaced the flooring and baseboards throughout the main floor (including the area in question). The cracks are directly above a baseboard seam, too, of course.

We've had no other issues with the home whatsoever.
posted by synecdoche to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Given this: "We bought it from the original owner who apparently took very good care of the place, based on everything we've seen. (For what it is worth, every trade we've ever had in the house has commented on how well built it seems to be.)" and assuming you haven't noticed any other issues (e.g., a leak in the window), I would just assume it's a surface crack and repair with drywall tape and joint compound.

(Former diy-oriented homeowner.)
posted by she's not there at 10:45 AM on October 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Those are pretty common where windows were fitted too tight and you get a lot of freezing and thawing. Has the caulking in the windows come out in places too? I'd just patch it.
posted by fshgrl at 11:04 AM on October 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I fixed something like that an ex-contractor I knew told me to use LeakSeal, after digging a wee trough in the crack and then filing it in. Explanation offered: it expands and contracts. I've treated a few other cracks without it, and the one with the LeakSeal stuff is the only one that hasn't decided to faintly re-appear. Worth a try -- your crack looks small enough that I don't think I'd even bother digging in or messing with drywall whatnot; I'd just spray it thoroughly and let it cure and paint over it.
posted by kmennie at 11:16 AM on October 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I assume this kitchen alcove is on the ground floor, and though I can't tell for sure, it looks to me as if its walls are outer walls of the house.

If that's so, probably either it's sitting on a little trapezoidal projection of the foundation, or it's held up by struts projecting from the house or something on the ground. If it's sitting on the foundation, inspect for cracks, and if it's held up some other way, investigate the integrity of the load-bearing elements.
posted by jamjam at 12:41 PM on October 22, 2016

You are right synecdoche that is a patch job. The corner was poorly done using joint compound to round out the angle. It could be missing tape underneath which is why they patched over it. It is unlikely you have structural problems.

You could call a drywall contractor who would most likely cut back to where the drywall is flat, use either drywall tape or metal backed drywall corner to form a sharp straight flat angle and hit it with compound.

Or if appearance isn't a great concern use caulking or maybe kmennie is on it with leakseal.
posted by ashtray elvis at 12:55 PM on October 22, 2016

If you want to just patch and paint, use something that is flexible as kmennie suggests. The LeakSeal looks OK. I have used something called DAP Elastomeric Patch, which is hard to find in hardware stores but you can order it online. But my feeling is that patching over the previous patch job will not hold, and that it would be better to dig out the whole thing down to the tape, rip out the tape, and start over with fresh tape. All that said, houses move and flex especially with big temperature swings. I have a hairline crack in a brand new (8months) professionally installed bathroom wall. I've been fixing other hairline cracks around the house, which is 20 years old and very well built, since we moved in 10 years ago.
posted by beagle at 1:20 PM on October 22, 2016

What's almost certainly happening is that the foundations at this point of the house are settling/moving, for one or several reasons. This is either nothing much at all, just patch it up as suggested above, or it is the first sign of a more significant structural problem. This wall is possibly detaching away from the rest of the house, although that sounds dramatic, it doesn't have to be. You need someone to check the foundations and the quality of the bearers/joists under there. Could be rotted or otherwise need repinning. Chances are it's nothing, and even if it is something with the substructure it doesn't mean it's a big job.
posted by wilful at 9:25 PM on October 23, 2016

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