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Question DetailsAsked on 5/14/2013

The kitchen extension on my house seems to be separating from the main house due to settlement issues. What is the best way to fix this?

Cracks along the joint line in the ceiling and a vertical crack at the joining wall corner. Concrete surrounds the outside of the extension on 2 out of 3 sides

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2 Answers


Is this a new addition - talk to your builder.

If not - depends on how serious the settlement is. If it is just making hairline cracks, that is not at all unusual with additions because the existing house has usually settled as much as it is going to before the addition is built, but the newly built extension has a few to 10 years before it is done settling. I am guessing the extension is built on grade or on shallow foundations, which makes this more common.

If you have a basement or crawl space under the extension, look (or have a rough carpenter or civill engineer look) at the foundation to be sure you do not have some sort of progressive failure going on.

Cracks will be the smallest at lower elevations, so check the highest points of the junction with the main house - ceiling and roof - this is where the cracks will be the largest. If the cracks are more than hairline or opening up noticeably ove time, you need foundation help and may have to physically cut at the interface and seperate the two units, putting a flexible joint between them - see a civil engineer with house settlement repair design experience. In this case you may also have to put flexible piping between the units, and make sure there is an expansion loop in all electric wiring.

If just hairline, you can spackle them up in drywall. One trick in this instance is to put up a wide trim board or decorative panel over the crack after filling it with spackle or drywall compound or caulk - only nailing it on ONE side of the crack, so it does not split as the crack widens. A wall hanging or tapestry or decorative curtain (think Hippie bead curtain) works well because you can keep track from time to time of how the crack is growing, if at all.

If it is more than just a narrow crack so you have to seperate the units, on the outside of the house you may have to cut the sheathing and siding vertically at the joint, then cover it with flashing or overlay siding pieces fastened to only one side to keep the siding from tearing.

At the roofline make sure the joint crack between the two units is fully sealed with backer rod and caulk, then covered with extra wide step flashing to bridge the gap between the two units. You have to be especially careful that the flashing is fully sealed to the higher surface (assuming house and kitchen roofs are different heights) so water cannot drip down the siding onthe house into the crack, and NOT nailed down onthe lower unit - use flexible asphaltic shingle adhesive instead, so it does not tear the flashing off as the crack opens up.

If there is more than a small crack anywhere (wider than a pencil point) I woudl definitely have an expert look at the cause to be sure it is not a foundation problem.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD


Was the addition engineered, specifically the foundation? If not it could have been done improperly. If it was call the engineer that designed and inspected the project. Ask him/her to visit your home to see the cracks and offer their opinion. The cause and severity will determine the proper course of treatment/repair. Like LCD said, you may need an expansion joint between the new and old units, though that is generally frowned upon if at all avoidable. The foundation(s) may need to be stabilized (one or both). If the cracks are hairline and are not moving more or less over a period of changing seasons and weather patterns (3-4 months) they just need to be repaired. You can easily see if there is continuous movement with a piece of tape across the crack. If it pulls or develops a ridge over the crack there is still movement. If it doesn't move over a few months time the structure has stabilized and you can proceed with the repairs.

Todd Shell

Todd's Home Services

San Antonio, TX

Answered 7 years ago by Todd's Home Services

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