LESLIE: We’re taking a call from Iowa with Cindy who’s seeing some cracks in her walls. Tell us about it.
CINDY: Hi, I’ve got some diagonal cracks from my windows; from where the finished wood is. I had one last year and now I notice this year all my windows on the east side of the house have those.
TOM: Hmm. And you think this is the first year that you’ve seen these cracks? You haven’t seen them before?
CINDY: Well, I saw one last year.
TOM: Right, but now you think there’s more so you think this is active and they’re continuing to open up.
CINDY: Cracks are (INAUDIBLE) windows have now got cracks.
TOM: So is it your sense that this started with one window and now is spreading to more, so this is not something that you’ve seen before?
CINDY: Correct. It’s all on one side of the house.
TOM: Alright. Well, there’s a couple of things that come to mind here. First of all, cracks under windows is not unusual because that’s the weakest part of the wall. If you had a crack and you tried to fix it it’s probably going to open up again unless you used a drywall tape on top of that crack when you tried to repair it. If for some reason you are happening to get a lot of movement in that wall it might be advantageous to take a look at the foundation to see if that’s behind it because that would be the most obvious place to start. If you’re getting a lot of movement on one side of the house we want to make sure that nothing is disturbing the foundation; there’s no drainage problem that’s causing it to be unstable.
Probably a good first step on that is to have a partial inspection done by a professional home inspector who really would have nothing to sell you but good expert advice. So if you’re concerned about the structural integrity, that’s where I would start. If you are concerned about just these cracks and cosmetically, you know, just hearing about a few cracks under windows doesn’t, frankly, bother me that much because I know how common they are and if that’s the case you need to sand the cracks; you need to put a fiberglass-based drywall tape on top of it, the kind that looks very meshy and sticky; and then you need to put two to three coats of spackle over it and that will stop the cracks from opening up again.
CINDY: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Cindy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.