Walls and ceilings are subject to cracks, usually soon after construction, sometimes much later. Much of the earlier cracking is superficial, easily remedied and quite unlikely to recur. You may now breathe a sigh of relief.
If cracks are noticed on the wall, (generally fine ones- check by pushing a paper through the crack. If the paper does not travel through and through the wall you have not much to worry. During your next painting after thorough scraping of old paint and cleaning of the dust, the painter will fill up the crack with good quality putty before applying new primer and paint.) Building sets in two seasons, surface cracks do appear during this tenure.
Why do these cracks occur? Diagnosis of the specific cause is often difficult to ascertain. Numerous forces come into play as many building factors may also contribute (sometimes very generously) towards the formation of a crack.
Commonly noticed patterns of cracks are:
Shrinkage cracks: This type is perhaps the most common and innocuous form of cracking observed in buildings due to drying. Thankfully, it can be easily rectified after a full season of its appearance, by scraping and painting.
Settling cracks: These usually make their debut horizontally below a beam. Higher storeys seems more susceptible to this type of cracking than lower ones.
The cause is attributed to minor settling of the building structure, but its appearance can be very unsettling to the occupants. Though these cracks are normally not severe, it is agreeably unsightly and unanimously unacceptable. This could also be a cause of leakage for outer walls.
After a year of observation, if the crack does not show any further signs of lengthening or widening, it may be safely filled up with ‘Snowfilla’ or putty after thorough cleaning and touched up with the right shade of paint.
If the crack shows signs of widening or a new major pattern of cracks develop, a careful analysis by a competent consultant is required and his advice sought for effective remedial measures.
Radiating cracks: These are the outcome of hammering nails or hooks in walls made of solid concrete blocks.
You can avoid cracking the walls by using hand driven augers or jumping bits. Portable drills are (the best option) to drill holes and then plugging them with wetted ‘Rawal’ plugs to hold the screws.
Don’t forget to check for concealed electrical wiring before driving in any screws. It could be a shocking experience for anyone.
Impact cracks: These can occur in the neighbourhood of door/ window frames when the doors and windows are left unsecured with stays or stoppers and a strong gust of wind takes an unfair advantage of the situation. They also occur when heavy carpentry/ breaking work is done in the building.
The impact of shutters against the frames may not only leave cracks in the neighbouring walls, but also result in broken window-panels and loose hinges not discounting the possibility of serious injuries.
So keep you doors and windows well secured, whether shut or open.
Radiating and impact cracks can be easily attended to by:
- Cleaning the cracks by a sharp nail to the full width & depth.
- Blowing off the dust and then filling up with M-Seal or any other suitable sealant/ filler.
- Scraping off excess sealant/ filler with a sharp edge to level it.
- Retouching the crack with just the right shade.
If paint bubbles appear above skirting or below sill, indicate that the inside moisture is trying to come out. Drill holes and allow it to come out. Leave for month or so and then paint the area with breathable paint.
Use drill bit, rawal plug and screws instead of nail and hammer. Screwing is the correct option.
– use proper drill and rawal plugs.
Clean the walls and ceilings regularly and do not allow cobwebs to appear.