- May 15, 2023
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You’ve noticed one or a series of small bumps on your drywall, and it’s an eyesore. Worse still, you’re wondering, do nail pops mean you have foundation problems?
Nail pops in walls can be an indication of underlying foundation issues. Though a few nail pops can have other causes, it’s wise to seek a professional inspection to ensure proper diagnosis of the underlying problem.
Let’s look at what causes foundation shifts and how nail pops can be fixed.
What is a nail pop?
A nail pop is a nail head popping from the ceiling or wall. The appearance of the nail pop varies depending on age, cause, and material quality. Understanding these looks can shed light on the structural condition of your home.
- Bumps: Nail pops appear as circular bumps on the ceiling or wall. This stage often goes undetected since the wall or ceiling surface still looks the same unless you catch the subtle shadow under the light. If you notice one nail pop, inspect your walls with a flashlight for more. Multiple nail pops point to a structural problem that needs addressing.
- Drywall cracks: The appearance of cracks instead of bumps can be influenced by factors such as the drywall’s age, the cause, and the quality of the paint. Because the cracks are often small, they go unnoticed too. However, not all cracks are necessarily linked to nail pops, so inspect your home for any other potential issues when you observe a crack on your wall.
- Flaking paint: The damage is more apparent at this stage of drywall nail pop progression. The nail has sufficiently penetrated the drywall, causing the paint to peel. Although the nail remains concealed, the damage lacks a distinct shape, displaying a minor tear or fissure on the wall. Occasionally, a bubble may appear around the tear, signifying the extent to which the nail tugged at the drywall paint before a portion broke off and began to flake.
- Hole: The paint has peeled away at this stage, revealing the protruding nail head. These holes have uneven edges and are typically similar in size to standard drywall nails. Seeing one or two holes in a home is common, but a whole row of nail pops warrants immediate action.
Although it may be tempting to patch the hole yourself, get the help of a professional like Value Dry Waterproofing to inspect for foundation damage prior to patching.
What causes nail pops?
Nail pops are caused by the expansion and contraction of the wood frames behind the wall. As wood framing and the building’s foundation shift due to seasonal changes and humidity, the grip on the nails or screws weakens, leading to nail pops.
Foundation shifting happens when the soil under the home is uneven and cannot properly support the home. Before building, contractors create an even layer of compact and dense soil and then lay a foundation to build a stable house. But when soil erosion occurs, the soil loosens, creating gaps in the foundation, which in turn causes the house to shift.
Other factors contributing to this include:
- Temperature and humidity fluctuations cause wood to expand and contract
- Improper drywall installation or use of incorrect nail length
- Improper nails or screws
- Overdriving nails
- Incorrect amount of drywall fasteners to secure a stud
- Using nails instead of drywall screws
How do I know if nail pops indicate structural damage?
We’ve established nail pops could be a cosmetic problem or a sign of structural damage. How can you be sure it’s a structural and not a cosmetic issue?
- Frequency: If you notice numerous nail pops appearing in clusters, it might signal a more serious underlying issue.
- Location: Nail pops occurring near doors, windows, or in a straight line along the wall could indicate a potential problem with the framing or foundation.
- Foundation issues: If you observe cracks in the foundation, uneven floors, or doors and windows that are difficult to open or close, you could have structural damage related to nail pops.
- Age of the house: Older homes are prone to settling, which can lead to nail pops. However, if you see a sudden increase in nail pops in an older home, it’s worth investigating further.
Value Dry Waterproofing has a professional team experienced in assessing foundations. We can detect the signs and accurately diagnose the underlying cause of your nail pops.
What causes foundation shifting?
Foundation shifting is primarily caused by inconsistent soil moisture levels, which increase hydrostatic pressure and push against the foundation, leading to movement.
Several factors can contribute to foundation shifting, including:
- Soil type: Expansive clay soils are particularly susceptible to moisture level changes, which can cause them to expand and contract, resulting in foundation movement.
- Poor drainage: Insufficient drainage around a home can lead to excess moisture in the soil, increasing hydrostatic pressure and causing the foundation to shift.
- Plumbing leaks: Water leaks from pipes can saturate the soil around the foundation, leading to uneven soil moisture levels and foundation movement.
- Tree roots: Large tree roots can draw moisture from the soil, causing it to shrink and the foundation to settle unevenly.
What happens if I don’t repair nail pops?
One or two nail pops might not be worrisome for most people, as they can be attributed to simple installation errors. However, if serious and left unaddressed, your home could experience significant foundation damage. Nail pops in drywall can be a sign of foundation problems, and as it worsens, it can lead to structural damage often linked to deteriorating foundations, such as:
- Uneven flooring
- Foundation leaks
- Damaged floorboards and tiles
- Cracks in ceiling and walls
- Doors and windows that stick
- Basement flooding
- Fractured bricks and concrete blocks
- Mold growth
- Leaning chimney
- Separation of decks and porches
These issues arise as your foundation deteriorates, and the repair cost increases as the damage worsens. To prevent this, consult an expert for an inspection before the situation escalates.
How can nail pops be fixed?
Fixing nail pops in drywall involves a series of simple steps to ensure a smooth and even surface. If the nail pop is merely a cosmetic issue, follow these steps to repair it:
- Scrape the nail head clear – Scrape off excess drywall to expose the nail head for easier working.
- Put back the popped nail – Using a screw gun, loosen the popped screw and re-screw it so it’s level with the wood frame.
- Add extra screws to the wall – Add two screws to the drywall, one an inch above the original and another an inch below the original screw. This provides more security so the nail doesn’t pop again. If it pops out in a year or less, there’s no need to replace it.
- Ensure the area is flat – Run your hand over the spot to see if it’s flat.
- Patch the holes – patching the wall before painting ensures excellent results.
- Sand the patched area even – Sand the area you’ve patched to even the wall and make it unnoticeable.
- Check the wall to make sure it’s even.
However, if nail pops indicate a structural problem or foundation settling, consulting an expert to assess and address the issue is essential. Some potential solutions for foundation problems include:
- Foundation Underpinning: This process involves strengthening the existing foundation by extending its depth or breadth to reach more stable soil or to distribute the load more evenly. Underpinning can be accomplished using various methods, including mass concrete underpinning, mini-piled underpinning, and jet grouting.
- Helical Piers: Also known as screw piles, helical piers are shafts with helical plates screwed into the ground to support the foundation. The helices work by pulling the pier instead of pulling it into place. Helical piers are easier and more efficient to install than push piers, as there’s minimal excavation and noise pollution during installation.
- Push Piers: These are steel tubes driven into the ground alongside the foundation until they reach stable soil or bedrock. Hydraulic jacks are then used to lift the foundation to its original position and transfer the load to the piers. Push piers are a popular solution for settling foundations and can provide stabilization and potential lift to the structure.
- Crawl Space Jack Posts: If your home has a crawl space with sagging floors, crawl space jack posts can be installed to provide additional support. These adjustable steel columns are placed under girders and tightened until the sagging sections are lifted and leveled.
- Injection Piers: These involve injecting high-density polyurethane foam into the soil beneath the foundation. The foam expands, filling voids and lifting the foundation back to its original position. This method is often used for slab foundations with minor settling issues.
Call Value Dry Waterproofing for foundation repair
Addressing nail pops and underlying foundation issues is essential for maintaining your home’s structural integrity, safety, and value. While some nail pops might be simple cosmetic concerns, others could signal more severe foundation problems.
It’s crucial to consult with professionals when dealing with foundation-related issues to ensure the most suitable solution is implemented and repaired correctly. For reliable and professional foundation repair services, call Value Dry Waterproofing.
Our foundation repair experts can conduct a thorough foundation inspection, determine the cause of the problem, and provide the most effective repair solutions. Contact Value Dry Waterproofing today and take the first step towards a stable and secure home. Call us at (888) 768-2583 to schedule an inspection, or contact us online.