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I bought my home about a year ago (September 2011). It's a split-level ranch built in the mid-70s.

I have a couple of spots, especially on a wall going perpindicular through the center of the house (basically from the front door to the back of the house) that has a lot of drywall nails starting to pop out. I also have some taping in the corners near this wall that is visibly wrinkling up.

In line with this wall, there is a section of what looks like two pieces of drywall that have pushed together and buckled up some right above a doorframe. There is a visible separation from that split up to the ceiling through my hallway. The portion on the ceiling just looks like where a join has come untaped though.

I only have one doorway with an actual CRACK from the corner (crack is in the drywall), a different doorway that is oriented lengthwise (the frame runs front to back along the house) which sticks, and everything else seems OK. I checked all visible portions of the foundation and nothing seems amiss.

Should I be worried about this?

I have watched it very closely since we moved in and haven't seen much change, though I do feel like the nails popping are more prominent now.

I'll post pictures tonight.

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If you saw prev. comment, disregard - misread "settling" as "selling". –  The Evil Greebo Oct 10 '12 at 15:19
    
@TheEvilGreebo Missed it so no worries. –  JNK Oct 10 '12 at 15:19
    
Has there been any major renovation work done on the house since its construction? Having bought it a year ago, any major settling should have occurred. However, if someone screwed up your structure afterwords - relatively recently - it'd show up over time. –  The Evil Greebo Oct 10 '12 at 15:31
    
Specifically maybe some structure was removed from the lower level under this apparent load wall? –  The Evil Greebo Oct 10 '12 at 15:33
    
Nope, no work has been done at all since I moved in. The previous owners did add central AC which runs through the attic but I can't imagine that would matter here either. They also redid the kitchen probably 5-6 years ago (added an island, stone counters, etc). –  JNK Oct 10 '12 at 15:36
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm not 100% clear as to whether you bought the house with the cracks and the popped out nails, or whether it has happened since you bought the place. If it has happened since you bought the place then I would be concerned and have it looked into. If it was like that when you bought it the damage could have been there for decades, there's no way to know for sure unless you can speak to the former owner.

I'm assuming you've done this or you have a slab foundation, but if you have access to the foundation like a crawlspace or a basement have a look to see if there's any evidence of settling. Try and mark off the cracks and the positions of the nails in ways you can later go back and check for movement. Use a ruler to draw a pencil line perpendicular to the cracks every inch or so, and use a grease pencil for the nails, or a permanent marker. Keep an eye on them every few weeks and see what happens.

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The issues existed when I moved in but I believe they have gotten worse. However I also obsessively look at them so it could be all my perception. This is a good suggestion since it would allow me to quantify the problem. I did check the foundation and there are no cracks at all except between the slab for the front stoop and the main house. –  JNK Oct 10 '12 at 16:00
    
It is so easy to be obsessed by that sort of thing. Keep in mind that things change with the seasons as well as the house heats and cools, so give it some time before you make any conclusions. Unless things start to fall apart of course. –  GdD Oct 10 '12 at 16:11
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The reason most drywall installers switched from nails to screws is because nails tend to pop out.

If the only thing you can see is some nails popping and drywall cracks, I don't think I'd be too worried just yet. If there was a lot of shifting you'd expect to see cracks starting/growing in the foundation walls, broken mirrors/windows, stuck door frames, etc. As this is difficult to assess over the internet, if you are really worried then you should probably have someone (general contractor, home inspector, structural engineer) come out to look at it, if only to put your mind to ease.

Other things to consider aside from your house settling:

  1. Geographic region - are you prone to earth quakes?
  2. Nearby trains/subways
  3. Nearby construction projects
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