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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Got Crack?

It's annoying, no, it's really annoying when you spend all kinds of time in the summer repairing, then smoothing out your walls and ceiling, painting them with primer, insulating the attic and then, only then, when the weather gets cold, they crack up like hell! It looks like a plate tectonics map on my wall! Don't even mention the ceiling. The cracks are all hairline cracks. That is the only good thing. That and the fact that we haven't painted the walls with anything other than white primer. These cracks could have always been in the original wall and are now appearing because the weather got cold. On the other hand, since the attic is now insulated they may be forming because the air flow pattern of the room has changed for the first time in 163 years and the house is pissed off. Anyway, I already fixed them and it seems to be working. (I had to do something between coats of paint on a closet door.)Years ago I saw something on "Good Morning America" or something like it about fixing cracks in walls. One solution was to fill the cracks with latex caulk. I have done that before but these cracks are way too fine to fill with caulk. So I did the next thing that I remembered. I found the bucket of white exterior latex paint that I had stashed away in basement and, using a 1" brush, painted over all the cracks with three coats of paint. I made sure to fill the cracks with paint if it was possible. The theory behind this is that as the walls expand and contract the latex paint will stretch over the cracks and they shouldn't reappear through the paint. Of course when I came back to put the second or third coats on I would always find a few more cracks and I bet if I looked again today there would be even more. I would post a picture but with all that white it would be like trying to spot a white cat in a snow storm. Oh well. The way I see it the house is just living up to its name!


At 2/04/2008 2:39 PM, Blogger Scott Robichaud said...

maybe the house just misses all the crack...

Sounds like it's adjusting to the new insulation to me too.

At 2/04/2008 6:58 PM, Blogger Iowa Greyhound said...

It's amazing how a perfect ceiling is not so perfect if you look at the details. I guess that's what they call character.

At 2/05/2008 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sucks. Are you using heat in the house now? If so, maybe this had an effect. Your solution sounds good. When I had my house in Texas we suffered the usual "shifting sands" foundation wackiness and had cracks which we caulked before paint. It did work well but you're right, the cracks need to be sizeable for it to work.


At 2/08/2008 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How's the humidity level in your house? I had a similar problem with the lath and plaster in my house until I installed a humidifier on the furnace to keep the humidity constant. Winter up here (Alberta, Canada) really dries the air out. Unless you're living in the house and constantly adding humidity from cooking, showers, etc. you may need to supplement the moisture level in the air to keep shrinkage cracks from forming.

At 2/11/2008 7:22 PM, Blogger loretta said...

Did you smooth the walls with Joint Compound? Have you worked with a particular joint compound that you would recommend for smoothing walls and repairing cracks?

At 2/11/2008 11:19 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Yes the walls were smoothed with joint compound. I use the lightweight Sheetrock stuff that comes premixed at Lowes or Home Depot and sometimes I use a final pass with the "Topcoat" which is more creamy and good at getting those last few dings. I put the fiberglass mesh tape over the obvious cracks too but this doesn't always work either.


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