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ray7027 03-10-2014 01:05 PM

Strange Cracks At Lower Stairway & Closet Wall
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I have a 28 year old bi-level. In the stairway on the lower part of the stairs t the wall below the steps there is a gap between the side of the steps and the drywall. Also outside of the coat closet at the top of the stairs there are bad cracks on the corners on the outside of the closet at the steps.

I have checked under the steps and there is no sign of the concrete floor cracking or sinking. The steps themselves are level. As you can see in the pictures the trim around the top of the steps has dropped. However there are no cracks at oint where the closet wall and he ceiling meet.

Any ideas on what the cause could be? Note the pictures posted turned to the left except the first one.

nealtw 03-10-2014 05:12 PM

How old is this damage? Did you have extra snow load this year?

Wuzzat? 03-10-2014 08:04 PM

If nothing is moving then you can patch but if these change over 24 hours or 12 months then a permanent fix will be more complicated.

So, how to find out if these gaps are expanding or contracting, how much and how fast? I guess you can use drill bits as feeler gauges so you'll be able to see small changes.
And with what force? If you fasten them will a new crack open elsewhere?

That last pic is strange. It can't be compression damage because the whole surface would have buckled. Maybe something is trying to get out, a pipe, maybe.

ray7027 03-10-2014 08:54 PM

There is nothing in that wall. I'm thinking that maybe it is just improper work by the builder. Maybe the metal corners were not secured properly. There were small cracks on the corners for a while, but recently got to this point. I guess the only way to check stucture under the coat closet is to open up the drywall below. You go under the closet when you go down the last steps into the lower level. See first picture. I don't know why the trim moved.

nealtw 03-10-2014 09:17 PM

There is often a bearing wall along side the staircase. A corner like that should have 2 studs nailed together in an (L) shape and if there is is bearing from above there would be more in the corner.
To me, it looks like some at least bent enough to stretch the cornerbead out of shape, along with that you have found thing have moved maybe lower in the staircase. Is there a floor above this wall or is that attic space.

ray7027 03-11-2014 07:41 PM

There is no second floor. Above are the roof trusses. I can access it.

nealtw 03-11-2014 08:10 PM

Trusses usually end on the outside walls but with some odd shaped house they change direction and sometimes land on bearing walls or are tied into a girder ( a girder can be one or more trusses nailed together, usually have a 2x6 bottom cord and always have other trusses or jacks tied to them). If this wall isn't supporting a girder or trusses, have a good look around for broken members in the trusses near this area.

Drywallinfo 03-12-2014 04:19 PM

In the lowest photo it almost looks like you have metal corner bead with paper tape up to the corner? If this is the case, then you could remove that paper tape entirely and fill. If you have metal (or vinyl) corner bead on and outside corner, there is no need for tape. See

ray7027 03-13-2014 12:10 PM

There is no tape it is just the drywall compound. I checked all 6 outside corners I have in the house and there are small crackes on all of them. Most are along the point of the corner, but two of them have small cracks the same place as the bottom picture. I think now that the problem is poor work by the contractor. I am going to clean off the loose material at the bottom picture and check if the corner bead is attached properly.

Thanks for all the help.

nealtw 03-13-2014 05:15 PM

It may be just poor workmanship, or it could be a good clue that there are stucture problems, I would at least check it out. There will be a corner bead on the outside corners and paper on the inside corners.

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