Spotting Cracks in Your Home & How to Treat Them

They appear in almost every home at some point or other, and if your house is a new build, you’ve probably noticed quite a few. But do you know the natural cracks caused by the slight movement of your home from the cracks that mean there could be a more significant problem than you first thought? In a lot of cases cracks become part of the furniture until you decide to decorate again, but by being able to identify and treat cracks, you could get to the root of the problem before it becomes anything more serious.

Cracks, in many cases, are caused by natural movements and disturbances in your home, with many of them resulting from the ‘breathing’ of the plaster, which will expand and contract, causing cracks. New builds often find they have many of these types of the cracks as the house continues to settle, but once decorated over; these cracks will become a distant memory.

However, if you notice that a crack continues to appear in the same place, or it is getting somewhat wider, then it is worth conducting a further investigation. Cracks can signify a potential problem, without the crack being the problem itself. The nature of the crack will depend entirely upon how your house has been constructed and with what. For example, if you have used plasterboards, you may find you continue to get hairline cracks, which could have been caused by the plasterboard being packed together too tightly. This is a problem that can soon be rectified by a builder who will increase the gaps in-between and cover with a soft plaster.

When cracks can be more serious.

If you have brick walls and you notice a crack that has reappeared more than once, then you may have a more serious problem on your hands. As there are several causes for cracks, it’s often difficult to identify the nature of the crack straight away; it may be due to the building materials being subject to moisture and temperature changes, resulting in hairline fractures. Equally, if your house is over a ridge, the vibrations caused by traffic can result in similar types of problems.

In most cases, the cause will be found to be wall materials shrinking; this could be things like the concrete or the timber, or clay bricks expanding. On the other hand, corrosion of other building materials such as lintels or wall ties can also cause cracks, alongside settlement or subsidence of the house foundations.

Spotting and identifying the cracks.

Widening Cracks

It’s a good idea to monitor the width of the cracks in your home, with you comparing them every week using a photograph or measurements, just to be on the safe side. In the majority of cases they will turn out to be nothing serious, but if you did have to make a claim from your insurance company, knowing how fast and how significantly the crack progressed could help you.

Hairline Cracks

Those cracks that are around 5mm wide are normally fine to just be filled in and decorated over. But always monitor the area where they have appeared and if they continue to appear in more than one place in the room, or they grow to be larger than 5mm, then you should be looking at getting professional guidance.

Brickwork Cracks

These could potentially be caused by the building’s weight shifting or from the flaws in the brick being attacked by the elements.

A Crack Inside & Out

If you notice a crack that you think has progressed from the inside of your home right to the outside, then it is vital you get in contact with a surveyor as it is very likely that the foundations of your property have started to move.

Door & Window Frame Cracks

If you find cracks in your door and window frames then this may signify that additional weight is being subjected to the lintels. Should you find that your doors have begun to stick, then professional advice is a must.


Sometimes cracks can be caused by excess weight and pressure being applied to the walls; this could be due to something like a loft extension which hasn’t had the correct assessments and structures put in place. If you are worried that this may be the case you should seek professional advice immediately.

Who to contact about a crack in your home.

If you want to investigate a crack that has appeared in your home further, you should always contact a chartered surveyor and not a builder. These are specifically trained professionals who should be able to diagnose the problem and give you the best solution. Equally, you should always make sure the professional you have out to assess the problem is approved by your insurance company, as they will need to submit a report to them for your insurance claim.

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