cracking drywall, what normal, not normal

I recently bought a house (March 2006 to be exact). The house is about 4 years old cape with walk out basement (built 2001-2002). We had a home inspector check out the house in February, he noticed a crack in the drywall in one of the upstairs bedrooms that he said was caused by the house settling. The inspector also made note that the drywall in the staircase from 1st to 2nd floor had a little quarter sized bulge from a poping nail, he said that was normal too.
The people moved out of the house at the end of March and set the temperature down to 55-60 and then we moved in a week later and put the temperature back on normal.
After moving everything was good for a few weeks. Sometime in the beginning of April (less than a month) I noticed that the door to the upstairs bedroom no longer latched close unless you pulled up on the door, a few weeks later even pulling up on the door didn't help, it closes fine but doesn't latch and I notice the gap along the top of the door is wider on one side than the other.
Towards the end of April I started noticing cracks in the drywall appearing. Most of the cracks started in the upstairs. The master bedroom has two hairline cracks (both going directly up to the ceiling), one above the door that won't latch and another on the opposite wall right above the window. The upstairs bathroom has a crack in the corner wall. The upstairs office has a crack above the window going directly up to the ceiling and the door in this room has a diagonal crack going from the corner of the door frame.
Downstairs there are three places where I have a crack going from a door/window frame directly up to the ceiling and finally there is a crack in the downstairs bathroom between the wall and ceiling.
How much drywall cracking is normal? I am not sure if I should be worried about this or not. Since I have only been living here for a few months I thought that I might wait till the fall and see what happens, I read online from one person that seasonal changes can cause cracks to appear and then disappear. I am not sure if thats a good approach or not. I also did make a call to a contractor but after talking with him I guess I got scared that he didn't seem knowledgable enough, so I want to find out as much as I can beforehand so I can be more intelligent about this.
Now for a little bit more info that I am not sure matters. The washer is on the 1st floor and the people who moved out had a top-loader, I brought in a front loader. I notice that when I am up in my office upstairs and the washer spins, I can feel a slight vibration. The washer itself doesn't seem to too vibrate much but the way the house is built you can feel the slight vibration. I am not sure if this could be causing the cracking in the drywall?
My wife is always cold too, so I don't use the A/C too much, probably much less than the old owners. So could the humidity change in the house be causing this?
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Yes, that sounds normal.

That is house settling also.

This is starting to sound more than normal.

A certain amount of house settling will occur. Yours seems to be on the high side of normal, or even beyond. Do keep an eye on it and consider having a pro look at it. Now is the time to put any extra supports that may be needed. At the very least, take some accurate measurements on things like the basement floor to ceiling height and check it every month for a while to see if there are changes. If so, put a support under beams. You may want to take a long rod or tube and cut it to a certain length that just fits between the beam and concrete floor. If, after a time, it no longer fits, you know you have some sinking
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The problem is that most of the framing lumber is pretty wet when the walls are built and it takes a bit before things dry twist warp and shrink, As for the doors sticking take a square and make sure the corners of the door frame are square before trimming any wood- it can be a seasonal thing. snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net wrote:

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On 3 Aug 2006 11:15:10 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net wrote:

Sounds normal.

Should not really make a difference.

Probably seasonal, wouldn't worry if it goes back to normal in the winter. If not, then maybe a problem.

Mostly sound normal. Are you sure these are all brand new? Generally doo/window cracks to the ceiling are normal, if not excessive.

Same as above.

Talk to more than one contractor and listen carefully to what they say. I don't mean Do what they say, just listen, you may pick up a few pointers.

If it is just a little vibration it is normal. Hell, when my garage opener opens or closes you'd think we were being invaded in my upper floor!

Not enough to cause these problems.
I think if it continues (meaning more and more new cracks) you should have it checked by a professional for sure. Maybe a structural engineer.
Good luck.
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I'd be most concerned about the door now having a problem in closing and having a visible difference in gap on side vs the other. That together with what seems to be a lot of cracking suggests that there may be some real underlying problem.
I'd find another good home inspector and get an opinion. You want to find out what;s going on before any new home warranties expire.
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On 4 Aug 2006 06:51:18 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Oh I agree if a warranty is involved.
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I would want to know if the cracks that are now apearing were hidden so you would not know of an issue. You would have to have layers of drywall compound and paint. Look at doors and windows anf see if they are out of square and write down what you find. Even if things were repaired it could be a seasonal shifting, I know of an area where an undergroung river shifts houses on a whole street and everybody has accepted it over the 90 yrs. But it could be worse. You need to find out what is going on to know what to do. The building inspector is a place to start and their advise is free.
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m Ransley wrote:

Where are you where the building inspector gets involved with 4 year old homes and mostly drywall issues? Here in NJ the building inspector would tell you to get lost.
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snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net wrote on 03 Aug 2006:

Notice a pattern here? Cracks going straight up to the ceiling from a corner of a window or a door suggest that the drywall hangers ended a sheet along the side of the door or window. That's improper technique. You always "break" a sheet of drywall at the middle of the top of a window or a door, so it looks like an upside down L. Corners of windows and doors are points of high stress, and if you try to break a sheet like it sounds as if your hangers did, it will always crack.
Short of tearing down the old drywall and hanging new sheets, there isn't a good way to fix that. You can tape and fill the cracks from time to time, but they will likely open up again soon.

Cracks at wall corners and wall-ceiling joints are often the result of mesh drywall tape used with standard joint compound. Find the easiest cracked corner to get to and cut out the joint compound and tape. Re-tape with paper tape and apply the 3 coats of joint compound. If that holds, do the other similar cracks the same way.

Well, no. Once the drywall cracks, it's not ever going to mysteriously heal itself. As the walls move, the cracks may open and close somewhat, but they'll never disappear.

Many front loaders (especially older ones) are appropriate only for use on a concrete floor because of the vibration -- much worse than in a top loader. You say your vibration is "slight," and not knowing what that means, I can't say whether that's part of your drywall problem or not.
--
Doug Boulter

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