Basement drywall cracking rapidly - cosmetic or structural issue?

Discussion in 'Walls and Ceilings' started by sevyn, Aug 16, 2014.

  1. Aug 16, 2014 #1

    sevyn

    sevyn

    sevyn

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    To give the briefest version of my story possible:
    I live in a rental home that was almost completely remodeled and renovated by the homeowner six months ago. We moved in three and a half months ago.
    I have not spent much time in the basement for various reasons, but I had begun to notice the odd crack and split in the drywall a few weeks ago while I was down there. I finally went down today for a full inspection and there is a ton more damage than I thought. There is a horizontal line that runs across almost every wall, as well as several other vertical splits in various places. There was no evidence of damage anywhere when we moved in.
    Most look fairly minor and my husband thinks that it's because of a bad drywall job (admittedly, we could see tape lines in a few places from the get-go), but I'm not so sure. The finishes are nice, but most have a very DIY feel and I'm starting to wonder if there's any chance these cracks might be symptomatic of something bigger. I'm thinking the lode-bearing wall down there might not carrying its weight properly - the support pillar is also cracking and sounds hollow (I thought they were typically supposed to be solid concrete?). I don't know enough about home structure to be at all sure, though.
    If more info/pictures would be help, please let me know and I'll do my best to provide it. Thanks in advance for your insight.
     
  2. Aug 16, 2014 #2

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

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    pics almost always help....

    Is this an exterior wall? Is your basement fully underground or just partially. Any signs or scents of moisture down there? And quite importantly, are the cracks near seams in the drywall or do they appear in the middle of sheets (hint: most drywall is 4' x 8' sheets)?
     
  3. Aug 16, 2014 #3

    mudmixer

    mudmixer

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    You are just renting, so tell the owner about your observations. He may appreciate a comment.

    Actually, a basement wall carries very little vertical load (even when fully occupied with a few feet of snow on the roof) is terms of stress. It is there to provide support for flooring and walls, and keep out the soil, but still not significant.

    Any heavy soil loads would cause horizontal cracks in a wall (usually in the lower 1/2 or 2/3's of the wall). These are called shear cracks.

    Dick
     
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  4. Aug 16, 2014 #4

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    I guess the trick is to compare the crack pattern with the stress pattern basement walls usually see vs. the cracks a poor install usually give.

    I suppose a heavy rain may cause basement wall bulging with a day or so, but the walls are pretty thick and so less likely to bulge.
     
  5. Aug 16, 2014 #5

    sevyn

    sevyn

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    Most of the cracks are on exterior walls. A few are on interior/on the support beam.
    The basement is mostly underground but not completely. Mercifully, no signs of moisture yet.
    Now that you have pointed it out, a lot of the horizontal crack runs about 4' off the ground - a bit higher in some places and a bit lower in others. I can't really see any rhyme or reason on the vertical splits, though. Some are quite close together, others are very far away. Some of the cracks look like they are perfectly following seams, others aren't as clean.

    I've informed the homeowners, but they don't sound like they're in a big hurry to investigate. I took some photos of where things are currently for liability purposes - I will try to figure out sharing a few here to see if that helps.

    It sounds like you may be on to something, but I then wonder why some of the interior walls are cracking as well - wouldn't that affect only exterior walls?
     
  6. Aug 16, 2014 #6

    mako1

    mako1

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    Could be a number of things.I doubt it's the load.Could be a bad install.No moisture barrier.Usually when this happens ion a basement it is moisture related in some way.Make the landlord take care of it.
     
  7. Aug 17, 2014 #7

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Load your photos on your computer.
    When posting a quick responce, click the manage attachment. select your photo and upload it.
     
  8. Aug 17, 2014 #8

    DFBonnett

    DFBonnett

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    Any possibility the joints, some or all, were just spackled and not taped?
     
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  9. Aug 18, 2014 #9

    slownsteady

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    It's a good idea to keep those pictures handy and safe - if the landlord (homeowner) ever tries to blame it off - make sure the pix are date-marked accurately.
     

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