How to tell structural damage from cosmetic damage

Whether you’re preparing to buy a home, preparing your current home for sale, or just performing maintenance on a home in which you intend to continue to live, the sight of structural damage or cosmetic damage to ceilings, walls, or floors can be extremely disheartening. However, it may not be as serious as it appears.

For example, damage to drywall looks serious, but drywall repair Pensacola is often more of a cosmetic matter. That is not to say that drywall damage does not need attention, but it doesn’t affect the structural integrity of your home. If there is a possibility that a home has sustained structural damage that could affect its ability to bear its own weight, this needs to be addressed right away. It can be difficult for a layperson to assess structural damage, but there are some warning signs that anyone can look for.

1. Bowing of the Roof

If you examine the roof-line of a building and it appears to be drooping or bowing at any point, that is a sign of structural damage to one or more of the load-bearing walls. Keep in mind that the load-bearing walls aren’t only on the exterior of the building. Interior walls can bear some of the burden as well. The location of the drooping or bowing of the roof may provide a clue as to which walls are affected.

2. Cracks in the Foundation

It is normal for buildings to settle as they age, and it is normal for small cracks to appear in the foundation. These should be narrow cracks with a “hairline” appearance. However, not all cracks are harmless. Pay attention to any that are large and get wider at the top. Another warning sign to watch for if the building is backed into a hillside are horizontal cracks that may indicate sliding.

3. Rotting Ceiling Joists

Settling of ceiling joists is not necessarily a major problem. It tends to happen with the changes in temperatures between day and night and with the seasonal cycle. However, joists are also vulnerable to rotting or infestation with bugs, and that is cause for concern. You can assess for this by poking them with a screwdriver. The part that can be difficult is accessing the joists in the first place.

4. Leaning Structures

If you notice cracks around window frames or doors that stick, these may be signs that the building is leaning. You can confirm or rule out leaning by making sure the walls of your home stand upright. You do this by using a level on the outside corners.

Cracks in drywall are a relatively simple problem to repair, but they may be a sign of a more serious structural problem. When in doubt, think about hiring a skilled contractor to assess for structural damage.

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