You may have already experienced some structural problems if you own an old house. Cracks in the walls is a common issue, and if they’re not fixed, they can lead to bigger problems down the road. You may start to worry that the structural integrity of your home is at risk. So in case of this situation, don’t panic because in many occasions structural cracking and other problems in old houses get repaired easily. The guide below provides some tips on how to detect and solve these problems.
Identify the Source of the Cracks and Other Structural Problems
It’s common for old houses to have cracks in walls or floors because of sinkholes or water seepage under the house’s foundation.
There are also many other causes of cracking, like poor construction methods, heavy loads on the structure, and even earthquakes. But the reason for cracking is not always obvious. This means you may need a professional engineer to help you identify the cause of these issues.
Once you’ve identified the problem, it’s time to design a suitable solution.
Determine If They Are Structural Problems
Some cracks are harmless and don’t need any attention. But if they’re structural, it’s important to fix them before more serious damage occurs.
You can tell if a crack is structural by looking at how large and deep it is, what direction it runs in (horizontal or vertical), where it is present (i.e., wall, floor), and what type of material made up that area (concrete or wood).
Most structural cracks run vertically, but some horizontal cracks are also structural. The idea is to check if the crack is in an area that’s load-bearing (like a wall). If it is, then it’s definitely a structural problem and needs to be fixed right away.
Fix Small Cracks with Caulk or Plaster
You can use caulk or plaster for small cracks to fill them in. If it’s a hairline crack, just apply some paint over the top so that no one will notice the repair job. But it is recommended that you keep an eye on these areas for further damage.
Let the repair job cure for 24 hours before applying a second coat of caulk or plaster. You’ll also want to paint this area once the compound dries so that no one can see unless they’re looking right at it.
Ask an expert at your local hardware store if you have questions about how much patching compound is needed for your project. A caulk or plaster expert will help you determine what type of caulk to use based on things like the depth and size of the crack and where it’s located.
Repair Bigger Cracks with a Concrete Patching Compound
If the crack is too big for caulking or plaster, you’ll need a concrete patching compound. This type of material can be used to fix bigger cracks in walls, floors, and other areas where concrete is used.
Make sure the area is clean and dry before applying the patching compound. However, be careful not to overfill the crack or it will be noticeable once the paint dries. You can use a trowel to smooth out this compound if needed after applying it so that no one will notice your repair work.
If your patching compound doesn’t come with its own color, ensure that the paint you use matches well enough so no one will notice imperfections when they’re looking at your house from a distance.
Prevent Future Cracks by Waterproofing Your Basement or Crawlspace
It’s always a good idea to prevent future cracks by waterproofing your basement or crawlspace. This will help keep them dry so they don’t create additional problems.
Moisture promotes mold growth, which can be harmful to your health and the structural integrity of any building materials like wood or concrete. Wood in particular, is prone to rot when exposed to moisture, resulting in considerable weakness.
It is also worth noting that a professional will have access to special tools that are not available at most hardware stores for this type of work. They’ll also know how to seal up cracks to not only keep water out but also prevent future problems such as mold growth.
This type of job typically takes about two days and costs between $1000-$3000 depending on the size of your basement or crawlspace and other factors like how much extra work needs to be done like waterproofing and painting. Still, it’s a lot cheaper than having to repair bigger cracks or structural issues down the road.