Spotting 45-degree cracks on your drywall can be more than alarming. Those diagonal, jagged lines signify upcoming repairs and can be a constant eye sore. And if not addressed earlier, it might lead to more complicated issues. Aside from future expenditures, the underlying problems could be worse than expected, especially if you see them on corners near the structural foundations of your home.
However, not all these cracks are due to structural issues. Some of them are minor issues caused by human error and are repairable. To address a 45-degree drywall crack, you must diagnose the underlying cause.
Risks of Having 45-Degree Drywall Crack
Before we discuss the underlying cause of 45-drywall cracks, let’s talk about why you should address them as soon as possible.
1) Structural instability
Seeing a 45-degree crack from the corner of drywall means there had been movements within the structure of your house. If neglected, the event could compromise integrity.
2) Safety hazards
The widening of the cracks can pose safety risks to its occupants. Cracks can cause falling debris and compromised structural elements, compromising the safety of the visitors and occupants of the building.
3) Water intrusion
Cracks create a pathway that can accommodate flowing water or leaks. Water intrusion can rot the framing, cause mold growth, or deteriorate other parts of the structure the water can reach.
4) Decreased property value
For homes with visible cracks, you might find it hard to sell the house. If the cracks stemmed from structural issues, you have no choice but to sell your home for a lower price or fix them, which is usually expensive.
5) Increased repair costs
Delaying the repair worsens the damage, increasing the repair cost. If you notice developing 45-degree wall cracks in the corner of the wall, windows, or doors, fix them as soon as possible.
Causes of 45-Degree Drywall Crack
1) Improper drywall installation
Improper drywall installation uses poor techniques and inappropriate materials for the job that can compromise the wall integrity and load-bearing capacity. These are manmade errors that could have been avoided with the correct practices.
2) Inadequate support
An error during drywall installation resulting in 45-degree wall cracks is having inadequate support on the edges. This event happens when there is an insufficient frame to hold and fasten the drywall from the inside corner. The support creates stress and causes the panels to move and shift, resulting in diagonal cracks.
To fix this, provide at least an inch of inside frame support in the corners. You can do this by nailing 2×4 timber to the existing stud.
3) Incorrect corner treatment
Another way drywall can produce these diagonal cracks is when applied with incorrect corner treatment. The corner needs adequate reinforcement and finishing. However, some practices weaken these spots, like improper bead installation and insufficient joint compound application.
To fix this, you need to remove the damaged bead and replace it with a new one.
- Mark the damaged spot that needs a bead replacement.
- Cut the area with a hacksaw. Don’t worry about the surrounding damage. You can fix it later.
- Pry out the cut area.
- Cut a part of the new metal bead replacement with metal shears.
- Next, secure it on the cut area with drywall nails or screws.
- Apply drywall compound over the secured metal bead on both sides of the corner with a drywall knife.
- Let the drywall compound dry.
- When dried, apply a new layer of drywall compound, distributing it evenly and creating a 90° angle.
- Let it dry.
- Sand the compound.
4) Poor fastening job
Also, poor fastening is the improper and inadequate use of fasteners to attach the drywall panels. With a poor fastening job, the drywall can loosen, sag, move, or shift, leading to a 45-degree crack in the wall.
To fix this job, identify the poorly fastened areas. Secure the area with drywall nails or screws. If needed, reinforce it with added fasteners. Next, patch the area using a joint compound or spackling paste with a putty knife. Spread it evenly on the affected area and let it dry. SanD the surface when dried.
5) Water infiltration
Water infiltration happens when moisture seeps into the drywall caused by drainage problems or possible leaks. In this event, the drywall can react in different ways. The affected area would absorb the moisture, weakening the material, and compromising its integrity. The lumber or frame may swell, expand, or contract, adding stress to the drywall.
Additionally, the moisture in the drywall results in possible shrinkage, developing 45-degree cracks. If this happens, the drywall structure has weakened.
Sadly, a DIY repair would not fix this issue. And you need to find the source of moisture leaks. From there, you must address them sooner because it could spread to larger areas in the wall and into the floor.
To give you an idea, this problem does not only require fixing or replacing the drywall system. It also must address and fix possible issues in the plumbing, drainage, or ventilation systems.
Some water infiltrations may not only seep into your drywalls visibly but also affect other areas in your home. For this reason, seek the professional help of a water damage specialist to inspect the extent of the damage.
6) Temperature and humidity changes
The lumber that holds the drywall reacts to sudden temperature and humidity changes. When the temperature rises, the wood expands. When the temperature lowers, it shrinks. In these movements, the drywall takes the stress of expanding and contracting wood.
The same goes for humidity levels. If the levels go up, the drywall absorbs moisture. When the levels go down, it dries up, leading to cracking.
Small humidity or temperature fluctuations do not usually affect the drywall. A sudden jump or fall in the levels could affect its condition.
In these cases, fix the cracks by patching the affected area.
- Remove the loose drywall crumbs. Use a drywall saw to cut clean edges on the affected area.
- Fill in spackling paste or joint compound on the cracks with a putty knife.
- Place joint tape into the crack filled with wet compound. Make sure the joint tape covers the entire cracked area.
- Apply thin layers of joint compound and feather it on the surrounding area with a trowel.
- Let it dry.
- When dried completely, sand until smooth.
7) Vibrations and impacts
Many vibrations or impacts can affect a building or home like machine impacts. However, some of them are minimal to cause structural issues. Huge vibrations such as seismic and natural activities like earthquakes are enough to move the structure of a building and cause significant stress on the drywall.
If the crack is about ⅛ inch, you may be able to patch it with jointing or spackling compound.
However, you cannot fix this problem with patching or any DIY method if the cracks are about ¼ inch. You need to call a professional to inspect the possible structural damage.
8) Structural stress
Structural stress happens when internal forces or pressure apply to the frames that hold the drywall. In this event, the studs move or shift, causing added load to the drywall. If it goes beyond the frames’ capacity, the drywall forms 45-degree cracks.
9) Foundation issues
Foundation issues refer to compromised foundations or framing that result in uneven weight distribution, causing shifting or movement. These issues could be a result of substandard framing materials. If you see nails popping, it might indicate unequal movements in the wall and loose framing.
Settlement is a natural phenomenon where the soil beneath the foundation moves or shifts. Some areas make significant soil expansion or shrinkage when the soil is wet or dry. This movement manifests on the drywall attached to the framing as 45-degree wall cracks.
11) Thermal expansion
Wooden frames naturally react to temperature changes, manifesting on the drywall as diagonal cracks.
Unfortunately, most structural stress needs professional diagnosis and repair. The usual process goes like this:
- A structural engineer or building specialist will find the root cause of the structural issue.
- Your structure may have to undergo reinforcement.
- Minor issues may undergo repair and stabilization.
- The foundation may go through underpinning or leveling
- You can take moisture controls around the foundation, like improving drainage or redirecting waterways.
If the 45-degree cracks come from structural problems, consider them a big deal, and you may have to shell out bigger money for repairs. However, this is not usually the case.
How to Tell if a 45-Degree Drywall Crack is Serious?
Pay attention to other signs that may tell that the drywall cracks are serious.
- If the cracks have a width of ¼ of an inch, they are already wide. And if the width goes about an inch, where sunlight can pass through, the cracks have severe damage and may compromise the safety of the building.
- If the cracks come with nails popping out from the stud, it indicates serious issues.
- If the cracks have leaking stains or are damp, they are signs of water infiltration beneath the drywalls or in the studs.
- If the 45-degree cracks come with cracks in the foundation that tends to expand and contract on season changes, significant movements have gone in the soil.
- If the crack has been repaired but returned during a change of season, you must have structural engineers assess the damage.
To Wrap it Up
Do not ignore 45-degree cracks. While some cases could be minor and probably improper installation issues, you cannot simply rule out structural problems. Structural problems could mean compromised structural integrity and safety hazard.
For your peace of mind, find out the cause of the cracks. Seek help from foundation experts and know the cause of the damage. If earthquakes struck in your area, have professionals assess the extent of damage, especially if your area has soft soil. Remember, always put your safety first.
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