My house was built in 1908 and still has its original plaster walls. One of the upstairs bedroom's wall has vertical cracks from floor to ceiling along the studs-3 studs in a row in the center of the room and another two studs from the corner. I had some plaster work done downstairs last summer and the plasterers were awesome-they showed me how to re anchor loose plaster so that's what I was going to do here. However, most of the other cracks I've had were diagonal and not so extensive. It makes me wonder what's going on behind the plaster to make cracks like these. I don't want to bother fixing them if there's a larger problem that should be addressed.

I'll add that our central air conditioner air handler is directly above this wall. Perhaps it's too heavy and is putting stress on the wall?

So, are the vertical cracks along the studs signs of a major problem or is it just a coincidence?

  • A picture is always good. It depends on the extent of the cracking
    – Jack
    Jul 10 '16 at 16:22
  • We just painted the wall-I'll take a picture as soon as it dries and the crack reappears.
    – Jax
    Jul 10 '16 at 18:41

The pocket door that is dragging the floor is the best indicator perhaps of what is going on. If it is original to the house means one thing, if it is a newer install as in not original means something different.

If painting the wall covers the crack you are asking about, tells me they are very small and there is most likely no concern. Old houses move, Plaster walls don't like to move and when they do, you will get settlement cracks, which it sounds like what you have here. The again if the pocket door is an add on or part of a remodel, that will affect the wall. Still no concern. The door that is dragging the can be from a few possibilities. The header supporting the track failed. I don't think so, your wall you asked about would have worse cracks. The track may have become detached from the header and the door dropped. (poor workmanship)

It may be good to post another question with pictures about the pocket door. That appears to me to be more of an issue than the cracks in the wall.

  • The cracks were only temporarily covered by the new paint...there is lots of evidence the wall has been repaired several times. I'll try to get a good picture but the lighting is terrible in that room. The pocket door is original to the house. It was jammed into its pocket when we moved in. The prior owner didn't use it (because it was "sticky" as he called it) so he pushed it in and then closed up the pocket.
    – Jax
    Jul 12 '16 at 0:04

Sometimes the cracks can be a indication of termites or carpenter ants damaging a small section. It can also be an indication of a leak in the wall. I would start by inspecting the exterior footings looking for critter damage. If there is no evidence of critters or leaks, and no change in the exterior siding (cracking or bowing) is this above the area that was repaired? It could be some settling.

  • this is an interior wall. Also, this is not above the area we had repaired. I could send my husband up to the attic to try to look for evidence of a leak coming from the a/c. I can't go up there right now-it's too hot for one and secondly I can't fit thru the attic access-I'm 8 mo pregnant. It's a crawl space up there essentially. How would we know if it's ants or termites?
    – Jax
    Jul 10 '16 at 18:40
  • First congradulations! Having 4 kids and 11 grand kids has made me smile many times. Interior walls can be a peer block settling do you have any big squeaks in the flooring close those areas on the bottom or top floor?
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 10 '16 at 21:07
  • This got two long ...If so some shims may be all that is needed. I have very few experiences with termites but quite a few with carpenter ants there are usually debris where the come down from the walls, termites like it when the earth is close to the wood, ants just walk up the peer blocks or foundation. Of the 3 houses I have had critter problems they have all been on exterior walls. But this needs to be checked just in case.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 10 '16 at 21:16
  • Lots of squeaky floors, but not in this area. The wall does bow out in this spot-more so at the bottom of the wall than the top. We are frequently visited by big black ants every summer, especially when it rains. About 3-5 a day, mostly upstairs, but not in this room. I've always attributed the ant activity to the proximity of trees to our roof. Maybe I need to call an exterminator, and/or a tree trimmer. Anyway, What is a peer block? Where would I find it? Also, fyi-directly below this wall is a pocket door that sags and scrapes the floor...
    – Jax
    Jul 11 '16 at 0:00

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