Some "cracks" advice

21 Feb 2008
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United Kingdom
Hello. I have noticed some cracks in my house and would like some advice please. I live in a small semi detached house that was built around 1970. Upstairs in 2 bedrooms There are are almost identical cracks that start from the ceiling in the outside corners and go down about 6-8 inches. They then go across to the lintel for the windows. These cracks are on the front wall of the house in 1 bedroom and the back wall of the house in the 2nd bedroom. Both bedrooms are also on the detached sidewalls.

There are also very small cracks appearing from the window sills that go down about 2 foot in both rooms. There are no cracks downstairs at all so I am hoping this rules out any major movement problems.

Here are some pictures. Click "all sizes" for bigger views.

Backwall: (the chunk missing was me digging at it)

Frontwall (the crack down the coving is a spiderweb :) )

Windowsill crack

One thing worth noting is that when we bought the house a surveyer mentioned that there was some roof movement effident due to there being no gable straps fitted. I have mentioned this to 2 building companies and they didn't seem bothered by these straps missing. Unfortunatly the surveyer was very unhelpfull and was more worried about a flower bed higher than the damp course.

Ok so are these cracks due to roof movement because of no gable straps?

Do I worry about them or just chisel them down to brick and re plaster?

If you have got this far thanks for reading. I am asking here because due to a new addition to the family soon I really can't afford an engineers report. Thanks again and any advice is appreciated.

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Shaun - any cracks in the outside walls? How long have the cracks been there? Is it getting worse? Do they open & close? Unless you're moving soon and want to urgently fix for a surveyor I'd leave it for a bit. If there are cracks in the outside walls these need to be fixed 'cos of ingress of water. If they've always been there and are stable fill them. I'd be tempted, in the first instance, not to rake-out & re-plaster, just surface fill with a plaster filler (Polyfilla say), glasspaper smooth, then observe. Any ongoing movement will become evident within a week or two ... that's when you start debating more drastic action
Thank you for your reply.

I can't get to the outside walls easily at the moment so I can't see if there are any cracks. If there is then they must be small as I can't see them hanging out of the window in the bedrooms.

As for getting worse, I am not sure. I have lived in the property for 10 months and when I moved in I may have missed them as I was naive first time buyer. I also think that the cracks were painted over. They don't seem to be changing though and I think I will filler over them and see how long it takes to crack again like you suggested.

To be honest the two cracks coming down from the ceiling coincide with the gable straps missing and the roof moving slightly. The cracks down from the window sills really do confuse me.

Anyway thanks again for your suggestions :)

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A general picture of the outside would help - window and gable elevation

The horizontal one at lintel height looks like some differential movement from the roof wall junction - either the force of the roof pushing outwards, the wall plate not strapped down or you may have a very deep timber beam instead of a wall plate and its twisted a bit.

The vertical one under the window is a common one due to a bit of [natural] movement or thermal expansion/contraction. It also looks old, so probably nothing really to worry about

It does not seem that the horizontal crack is related to the missing gable straps.

What is the roof construction?

Anyway unless the bit of wall above the crack is leaning outwards significantly, then just hack off and repair the plaster - put some mesh in it to resit any future cracking

Same for the vertical crack

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