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Question DetailsAsked on 9/19/2016

structural engineer near Fargo ND

i need a structural engineer to look at cracks in my family room walls

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You can also find a LOT of previous questions about ceiling/wall cracks in the Home > Drywall and Plaster link in Browse Projects, at lower left - many with photos. Obviously from probably a thousand or more miles away I cannot diagnose your issue, but generally - not always, but generally - cracks that cut diagonally through walls or cut through mid-sheet, are wide open (more than hairline) or very jagged or stair-stepped rather than basically straight, open up noticeably as opposed to very slowly over many years, can be heard cracking or popping or tearing, are associated with cracks or tilting in the foundation, or are associated with jamming of doors or windows or visibly noticeable changes in floor slope are something a structural engineer should look at.

Cracks that take many years to develop to just hairline cracks, only or primarily track along sheet seams, are not associated with foundation tilting/cracking, and are not associated with jamming doors/windows or floors developing significant slope tend to be indicative of gradual settlement, and until you start seeing one or more of the other symptoms above USUALLY are not an immediate significant concern.

Depending on exactly where in Fargo area you are, if on native soil rather than Red River sediments for example, it is also possible that progressive cracking is being caused by expansive clay soil moving your foundation - generally a quite slow process EXCEPT can be more dramatic if the soil gets very wet or unusually dry, in which case it (rarely) can break up a foundation pretty well in a matter of weeks or months.

Rapidity of crack formation is a highly important symptom - new homes tend to develop some cracks in the first year or two or settling in (though rarely more than about 5-6 feet long per crack), but otherwise cracking that is widespread or occurs / spreads in a relatively short time (months or less rather than years) should be looked at by a professional, and if spreading on a daily basis or associated by sounds of creaking, cracking, popping, snapping, etc should be considered an emergency needing IMMEDIATE attention. If sounds occur sporadically and only a time or two per day get a structural engineer out there ASAP - if frequent or continual sounds like above or significant tilting or sagging anywhere or crushing of drywall I would grab kids and pets and grandma and wallet and cell phone and an armful of clothes for a couple day's wear and get them out of the house, then call the fire department to do a quick emergency inspection until you can get a structural engineer out to look at it. Bear in mind if dramatic cracking (wide open cracks rather than hairline), sagging ceilings or floors or tilting walls, or continuing cracking or tearing sounds either fire department or structural engineer may "red tag" your house when they inspect - meaning you can't go inside till repaired or at least shored up under a structural engineer's and city building department supervision - so be prepared to be locked out for several days if it turns out to be serious. Rare, but happens at times, and a house that is noticeably changing shape or sounding like it is tearing apart generally is, so best to be safe IF that is your situation.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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