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Wall crack on the second and third floor possibly caused by plumbing leak - How serious is this?  XML
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Rolling Stone

Joined: 05/26/2019 10:40 PM EDT
Messages: 3

Hello all,

I'm a first-time buyer who just finished my first home inspection with the help of a licensed inspector. I earlier observed a wall crack on the second and the third floor but forgot to mention it to the inspector. When I sent the photo of the wall crack to the inspector today, he said it could be due to an old plumbing leak -- and this explains why the ceiling of the second floor living room (right under the third floor bathroom) was repainted -- the townhouse is less than four years old. We will go back to the house to check again in three days (cannot go earlier due to my work schedule). My inspector is a very good one and I appreciate his work a lot. To just get some peace of mind, can I ask you guys here:

1) Is it possible/common to have a wall crack on the second and third floor due to a plumbing leak in the third floor bathroom? I'm in midwest Canada and people say leaks can be caused by foundation problem as well.
2) Will this crack stay the same or will it get worse in the future?
3) Is this a serious problem, or is it a minor problem? What exactly should I check?

FYI, I have uploaded the picture of the wall crack and the repainted ceiling. Other than these, we observed some cracks in the stucco which was said to be normal here.

[Thumb - Repainted Ceiling.jpg]
 Filename Repainted Ceiling.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description Repainted ceiling on the second floor
 Filesize 1127 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  483 time(s)

[Thumb - Crack.jpg]
 Filename Crack.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description Wall crack on the second and the third floor
 Filesize 2197 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  420 time(s)

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 05/26/2019 11:12 PM EDT

Rolling Stone

Joined: 05/26/2019 10:40 PM EDT
Messages: 3

As a reference for comparison, here are the extent of cracks in the stucco.
[Thumb - Wondow Crack.jpg]
 Filename Wondow Crack.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description Exterior: Stucco crack 1_Under window
 Filesize 5138 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  114 time(s)

[Thumb - Exterior_Stucco Crack.png]
 Filename Exterior_Stucco Crack.png [Disk] Download
 Description Exterior: Stucco crack 1_Front
 Filesize 4706 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  379 time(s)

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 05/26/2019 11:05 PM EDT

Mike Casey

Joined: 06/28/2014 07:21 PM EDT
Messages: 1245
Location: San Diego CA

It's hard to tell just from photos, and of course it's best to see the items in person. The minor cracks may or may not be related to the prior leak. However, the cracks shown in the photos look like normal thermal and or moisture content related movement to me and I would expect them. Every house will get some cracks.

Mike Casey
Director of Education
Home Inspection University
[Email] [WWW]
Rolling Stone

Joined: 05/26/2019 10:40 PM EDT
Messages: 3

Thank you Mike for your kind reply!

Joined: 07/17/2019 07:39 PM EDT
Messages: 1

The cracks in the stucco are most likely not the source of your cracks. Seems too small. However, it is very important to seal any cracks in the stucco ASAP or you may run into water infiltration problems in future.

I agree with Mike Casey.... it's difficult to say for sure that the cracks are related to plumbing issues just by looking at photos. Usually, other symptoms would be present when it comes to water leakage and/or infiltration, i.e., sagging ceilings, paint flaking or sagging, discoloration, a smell of humidity, etc.

Were any renovations recently done in the bathroom above that included plumbing? Chances are the cracks are not related to a previous plumbing issue. My gut tells me its an esthetic issue. Hope this helps

Joined: 09/25/2021 03:26 PM EDT
Messages: 1
Location: Knoxville, TN

Did you take any moisture readings around the cracks or windows?
From what I can see, it doesn't look too serious, but with stucco something minor can be big.

Buck Fleming, CMI
Integrity Inspection Service
Home Inspector
Knoxville, Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Maryville, Knox, Blount, Powell, Loudon, Oak Ridge, Lenoir City, Alcoa, TN, Tennessee
Certified Pro

Joined: 01/09/2022 12:14 PM EST
Messages: 44
Location: Tallmadge, OH

I just want to add to this for anyone viewing in the future. It seems unlikely that cracks would develop where they did due to a leaking pipe. With the age of the home, it's at that prime time where cracks start to form at corners. Could it be settlement? Could be. But more times than not in newer constructed homes I'm noticing cracks in the finish work at corners of walls and ceilings. It's likely due to shrinkage of materials or expansion and contraction through the seasons. We button things up so tight anymore.

Obviously this is tough to tell based on pictures. But just some late night thoughts.

Point Man Home Inspection
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