We are in southern Illinois and last Sunday my wife noticed a crack above the kitchen cabinets. We started looking around and have found cracks all over the house in different areas that were not there before. We are starting to see seams in the drywall in different place and nail/screw heads through the drywall. The paint is pulled in many places along where the walls ceilings meet. The windows are out of square (were not before). And almost all the trim in the house is pulled away from the ceiling. We have paneling in one room and it has pulled away in the corners. The wall behind the fireplace has started to pull away from fireplace. Gap gets bigger as you go up. Would this be shifting? Worried because this has all happened in a weeks time. Here are some pics.

  • Your pictures are not publicly visible. Have you checked the foundation for cracks?
    – Steven
    Feb 7, 2013 at 23:50
  • How old is the house? How long have you lived there? Do you have a basement or crawlspace? Are there cracks anywhere in the basement or foundation? Feb 8, 2013 at 0:00
  • House was built in 79 or 80. We have a crawl space. I crawled under the crawl space a couple days ago and there were a few cracks but nothing that stood out.
    – Mark
    Feb 8, 2013 at 0:05
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    Are you sure all of this has happened over the past week, and you're not just noticing things that have been there because you're looking for them? From the pictures, it looks like most of this is not active (e.g. it looks like most of the cracks have been painted over). I'm not there to look, so you'd know better than me. But if a 30 year old house is suddenly developing cracks (settling), there is a major issue and you should have engineers there ASAP.
    – Tester101
    Feb 8, 2013 at 12:38
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    @Mark Like I said, I'm not there so you'd know better than me. You should make some urgent phone calls, and get somebody there soon. A 30 year old house suddenly shifting, is never a good thing.
    – Tester101
    Feb 8, 2013 at 13:31

2 Answers 2


I've encountered the same problem in my own home, although the drywall and ceiling seam cracks only showed up one at a time over the course of a few years, and most of them were present when I moved in. If more than one or two seams popped or nail heads started showing within a month, that seems like it could be a rather large settlement in your foundation, or some other structural problem.

I'd highly recommend getting a foundation specialist to your house sooner rather than later to see if your foundation might need piers to support part of it, or if some other repair is required. In my house, a total of 14 piers were needed along the side and front of the house to support one side and prevent further shifting. There were a few hairline cracks (even small cracks can be a bad sign depending on where and how many they are) in the foundation walls, and the corner of the house had settled over 2" before the problem was found.

The problem could also be in load-bearing structures (walls, I-beams in the basement, etc.), especially if it seems the problems are mostly towards the middle of the house.

The sooner you get this fixed (don't just let it go, even if you have to pay a few thousand), the better. You'll avoid more drywall repair later, and prevent further settlement and degradation of your house's structural integrity.

  • Have a company coming out to look at the foundation but they can't be here until the 19th. I just never saw anything like this. The main structure of the house is 63 feet long and 24 feet wide with one end going to 32 feet wide. And there is damage in every room. And more damage is accruing everyday. The main bathroom had no damage when we started seeing stuff on Sunday night but by Tuesday night you could see problems in the bathroom. We found one window out of square Sunday night and now every window is not square.
    – Mark
    Feb 8, 2013 at 4:29
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    Yikes! See if any neighbors are having similar issues. Could be a drainage issue related to recent storms/snow melting (I'm in St. Louis, so I know you probably have had a bit of extra precipitation recently, as I have). Hopefully there isn't an underground stream or something dumping water under or near your house. Feb 8, 2013 at 5:06
  • Talked to neighbors and nothing there...lol one thought I was making it out worse then it was so I gave them a tour. We are at the bottom of a slight incline but the people we bought the house from put all new drainage around the house so even the water from the gutters go into drains taking it away from the home. When I went under to check foundation it was dry. Maybe a little damp in some place but not enough that I was muddy when I came out.
    – Mark
    Feb 8, 2013 at 5:10

Have you checked at your water meter to see if it looks like you are consuming an excessive amount of water? It could be that your under ground water feed into the house has sprung an underground leak near, under or within your foundation. Being under ground it is possible that it could run leak for a long time and you would never casually observe it. A steady flow of water into the ground in such condition could lead to a serious settling problem such as you describe where many things could change quickly over a short period of time.

This should be easy to check. Write down the reading from the water meter one evening and then check it again the next day. Of course allow for a nominal amount of usage for toilets, a shower and your drinks.


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