Home Improvement--General/cracks inside house

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Question
Hello, I have 2 problems with my house. First, there are several parts of my house where there are cracks- some on the walls, and some in the ceiling running down the wall. They are in the living room, one in the bedroom closet, in the kitchen-1 in ceiling and 1 running down the same line. My house is brick veneer and was built by U S Homes in 1982. There are no cracks on the outside of the house on the brick. However, I notice that the right side of the house on the inside is slanted towards the outside-  it is the dishwasher and one of the toilets is slanted towards the right. I can see the slant and I can feel it also when I sit on the toilet. Please tell me what is wrong or advise me what to do to fix the problem. Now, the other problem has to do with the air conditioning system. I dust today and in a few days and not even a week, it is very dusty again. And this happens in my bedroom and in the living room. Also, there are parts of the house that are very warm and the a/c is hardly felt. And in other parts of the house, it is nice and very cold. My husband had someone come and change the appliance, compressor, or whatever it is called,in the attic and had several vents placed in 2 areas on the converted room that was once the garage. It is very nice in these rooms, now the laundry room and computer room. I read about plenum and don't know very much, but does this have anything to do with the distribution of the air that is not doing it evenly? Also, we have a 4- ton unit outside. Thank you.

Answer
I have minimal experience with HVAC, so I will be of little help with the air conditioning or dust problems.  I recommend calling a well established owner operated HVAC company.  In my experience they will be more likely to accurately diagnose the problem than many of the larger companies that may send out a technician that is proficient in new installations and component replacement but lacks the experience to successfully analyze less obvious problems.

Cracks in the drywall on ceilings or walls are caused by movement of the drywall or underlying framing.  Listed below, in order of increasing severity, are several possible reasons for this movement.
 
1. Drywall that experiences extreme variations in temperature or humidity may expand and contract enough to crack.  This is usually the result of an area not being heated or cooled or in a bathroom that is improperly vented.

2. All homes settle over time as the weight is more equally distributed onto the framing and foundation.  It is not uncommon for a new home to settle enough to cause a few cracks in the drywall.  The framing and floor or wall sheeting of homes that were subjected to rain, snow or ice during the framing process may swell.  After the building is completed and the home dries out the settling and resultant cracking of drywall may be even more pronounced than usual. Cracks caused by settling usually occur in the first year or two after a home is built.

3. Occasionally a home is improperly designed or built, so that foundation girders or floor joists span too great a distance or carry too great a load. This can cause the member(s) to sag over time allowing floors and wall to  become unlevel which may lead to cracks in the drywall.

4. Structural damage caused by termites or decay inevitably lead to settling.  The resultant movement and cracking of the drywall is often the first indication of the problem a home owner notices.  Decaying framing may be the result of a leaking supply or drain line from a tub, shower, toilet, sink, dishwasher or washing machine.  While rare, water lines to refrigerator ice makers also occasionally leak enough to damage flooring or framing.  

Persistently high moisture levels in the crawl space may result in mold or dry-rot. This type of decay can take many years to degrade the framing enough to permit settling, but may require extensive repairs to bring the structure back to acceptable condition.

5. Foundation settling can result in substantial settling or shifting of walls or floors.  It may require specialized equipment and techniques to rectify.  Even minor movements of the foundation usually result in cracks forming in exterior brick or stone veneer or movement, separation or bowing of other types of siding. Drywall cracks are also common in the area where  foundation settling has occurred.


As I have obviously not inspected your home, I am unable to provide a definitive reason for the unlevel floors.  However based on the information provided I think it likely that you have structural damage to some floor framing members. The cracks in the drywall are likely related to the suspected structural damage.  I recommend a thorough inspection of the crawl space, especially the floor framing in the affected area, at your earliest convenience, by either a home inspector or reputable contractor.

I hope I have been of some help in this matter.

Best regards,
Tony  

Home Improvement--General

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Tony Wood

Expertise

I can answer a wide range of home improvement and maintenance questions. My expertise is in carpentry, painting, framing, siding/boxing, doors, windows, decks and screen and glass enclosures. Wood's Home Maintenance Service

Experience

I am a life time resident of North Carolina with over 30 years experience in multiple facets of the industrial, commercial and residential construction industry. For the past 23 years I have owned and operated Wood's Home Maintenance Service , providing services primarily in Johnston, Wake and Sampson Counties of North Carolina.

Organizations
NFIB

Publications
Several Home improvement articles published on Angie's List and other online forums.

Education/Credentials
High School graduate ~ proficient in CAD (computer aided design), Open Office program suite.

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