It's pretty unnerving when you notice cracks in the exterior of your home. They generally don't happen overnight, but it feels that way when all of a sudden you notice one is there. While panicking is one of the first things you may want to do, it is the least helpful. Instead, follow these two steps as the more productive way to deal with cracks in your home.
Start a Crack Diary
Unless the crack has appeared as a result of an earthquake or other force of nature, it is unlikely that your home is unsafe at this stage. Grab your notebook and a tape measure and head outside to check every part of the exterior of your home. In your notebook, make a record of:
- where the crack is located
- how long the crack is
- how wide the crack is
Do another inspection in two weeks to see if there are any changes. In particular, watch for the addition of new cracks and any changes in the length and width of existing cracks. You can also make a photographic diary of crack changes if you have a good camera.
Get an Inspection from a Structural Engineer
If cracks continue to appear, you need a structural engineer to come and inspect the house. The engineer can do a full inspection of the home and determine why new cracks are appearing. They will ask to see your crack diary, so make sure it is up to date and ready. Additionally, show them the photos you took if you have some.
The structural engineer needs to look at both the inside and outside of your home, so pick a time you can be there to answer any questions they have. Cracks in your home can be caused by a number of different things. When the soil subsides beneath your home, for example, cracks can appear because your home has moved. The completed structural engineering report will give a better indication of what caused the problem.
Once you know what caused the problem, then you can take steps to repair it. If the cracks were caused by soil movement, you need to have a contractor stabilise the area beneath your home before the cracks can be repaired. Repairing house cracks without finding and repairing the source means you will have more cracks to repair in the future.
Reduce the chance of further cracks by taking the two steps listed above. Don't ignore house cracks in the hope there will be no more. The sooner you tackle the problem head on, the better the odds you can eliminate the source of the problem.