Causes of Cracks in Buildings

Causes of Cracks in Buildings

We have all been there. Stripping off old wallpaper to re-decorate the house only to discover cracks on the wall. Little cracks, big cracks and some seemingly worrying cracks.

Always very tempting to simply fill in the cracks and paper or paint over them but you may be right to be concerned. Here at ACE Building Surveys Northern Ireland we take the care and have the expertise to diagnose the cause of cracking in buildings. We always aim to see if the cracks will get progressively worse and what remedial action will be needed.

What Causes Cracks In Buildings?

Cracks in buildings can appear for many reasons and here in Northern Ireland we see many of them during our surveying. Cracks can affect the value of a building. As they say on Homes Under The Hammer, cracks must be investigated and can be very off putting to potential buyers.

Common Causes of Cracks in Buildings


Most materials used in the building industry expand and contract when exposed to moisture and hot weather. Moisture can affect a building by rain, condensation and ground water due to poor drainage. When a building is exposed to moist and then dry conditions it causes the fabric to expand and contract. Such movement causes tension which leads to cracking.


Subsidence is a common problem especially in older properties when building control was not as stringent as it is today. In many cases foundations were not adequate or deep enough to support the building causing it to move. Other causes of subsidence include foundation damage by roots of trees or poor sub soil structure. Subsidence can be a very dangerous problem and must be surveyed to determine the cause and remedial actions required. Usually the founds can be underpinned by a contractor.

Wall Tie Problems

Wall ties are used to join the outside skin and inner cavity wall together. Poor workmanship such as inadequate mortar joints around the ties, not using enough wall ties and rust can all cause wall ties to fail. The wall ties can move leading to cracks in the walls.

Thermal Movement

Have you ever been sitting at home in the peace and quiet and heard these strange banging sounds coming from upstairs during extreme hot or cold weather? Well, you are not alone. A building will absorb the suns heat and then when the temperature drops it will start to expel the heat. The building fabric will expand and contract causing tiny cracks. Sometimes these can evolve into much larger cracks. If you are worried about this, feel free to contact one of our qualified surveyors today!


Corrosion can occur for many reasons. Acid rain can cause pointing or brick work to corrode and degrade over many years leading to movement and cracks. Low permeability is vital in concrete to help it withstand the elements. Permeability can be linked to the water to cement ratio. If you need any advice call us today and we will be happy to help you with a survey.

Northern Ireland Property Surveyors

ACE Building Surveyors NI can assist you with a full and robust property survey. You do not have to settle for the basic surveys provided when buying a home. Contact us for a full and detailed report. We would love to hear from you!

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