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Grout line cracks can be a sign of foundations problems, but they are not really a sure bet.

When you are examining an older house consider them a sign that you need to pay closer attention to the property that you considering. Let's take a closer look.


Grout Line Cracks - Causes of

inexpensive tiles near meThere are a few things that cause kitchen and bath floor grout to crack. One of those is too much water in the initial mixing of the grout. Too much polymer is also a reason that grout cracks. Neither of these has much if anything, to do with the foundation of the home. What they result from is poor measuring during the mixing of grout. These examples show us that the presence of grout line cracks may not involve the foundation. So the big question is where to look next. 


Signs of Foundation Trouble

Sticky Doors: One of the easiest tests is to simply open and close all of the doors and windows. What you are looking for are doors that do not match up to their frames, that are hard to close, stick, or that fit into their frame. These are a sign that the house's frame has shifted and with it, the openings for doors have changed too. It is likely that you will find these kinds of problems in one part of the house over another or in a line. All may not be lost, but you are likely looking at a big dose of real estate rehab. 

Cracked Plaster or Walls: Interior walls that have cracks in the drywall, plaster, or if there are cracks in the mortar of brick walls, and in conjunction with grout cracks, then you likely have a foundation problem. What has happened is that the foundation has settled or is sinking and with it the support for load bearing walls. Without the support, gravity just pushes the wall down until its unifying force is broken and cracks appear. In this case, you not only have an expensive foundation problem, you also have structural issues and wall damages. 

Ceiling Cracks or Warping: If you notice ceiling cracks or if the ceiling appears warped then it is likely that the foundation is failing. As with the cracked walls, the sinking or sloping foundation is causing the ceiling to drop in spots. The torque from the uneven surface causes the ceiling to crack. In some cases, this can be from water damage such as a leaky roof rather than from foundation issues. In other cases, the water damage can also be caused because the foundation is failing. 

Water Damage: Water damage to walls but not to ceilings may indicate foundation trouble. What happens is that either the yard's soil is not draining or it is eroding and leaving the foundation vulnerable. You can visually inspect for erosion and for water the pools on the lawn areas. Water weighs a lot, so lawn pool beings tremendous weight. When wet, it pushes against the foundation. When dry it contracts and can pull the foundation with it. Either case weakens the foundation or allows it to shift. 

So while cracks in floor grout is a concern, it may not mean that the foundation is failing. Be sure to closely inspect a home with cracked grout for other signs of foundation problems. If you have more than one problem present, consider doing a full foundation inspection. If it is just cracked grout, that is repairable or you can put on your DIY boots and just replace the floor. 


David S. loves to tell stories. He came from a fishing family so storytelling is likely genetic. His writing style translates easily to both blog and article formats. He is a patient writer who takes the time to understand your project. David writes a great deal about home living. His favorite place in the world is his home. He has a vast knowledge of antiques, art, and deep love of cooking. He likes to entertain and is the master of small parties and intimate dinners. They say home is where the heart is and they happen to be correct.