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Are Nail Pops Signs of Foundation Damage?

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While a poorly placed screw or nail can sometimes make its way out of a stud due to wood shrinkage, it is more often than not a sign of foundation settlement.

If a poorly positioned nail causes the “pop,” it is pretty straightforward to repair. Just insert a handful of drywall screws above and below the popped nail, remove the nail, and carefully remove any floating debris from the hole. You can now sludge, sand, and plaster the wall. However, if a foundation problem caused the “pop,” merely repairing it will not prevent it from happening again somewhere else. In this case, according to foundation repair experts it is desirable to fix the underlying cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms.

A drywall nail pop occurs when the head of a nail is visible through the drywall and paint. They could be triggered by excessive rain in one season, which is responsible for causing the soil to swell and press against the foundation of your home. They can also be caused by drought when the ground shrinks and creates gaps for the foundation to move. Nail pops sometimes can indicate that your house is simply settling, but keep a watch for them. If they appear to occur frequently, it is most likely due to a foundation issue.

What is a Nail Pop?

Nail pop is an appropriately named phenomenon because it appears as nail heads protruding or “popping” out from your walls or ceiling. A nail’s round head either forms a circular (but still enclosed) nudge in your wall surface or cuts through the wall slightly, uncovering the metal of the nail head.

Nail pops can occur in multiple locations and often run across a drywall seam with many lined up in a row. It’s unappealing and sometimes disappointing for homeowners because it’s a very noticeable flaw in otherwise flat wall surfaces. Nobody wants flaws in their home.

Furthermore, you may begin to wonder whether nail pop is merely cosmetic or indicative of a much more severe issue, such as a foundation problem.

Common Causes of Nail Pops

Nail pops are common in older homes. Different materials were used to hold the drywall in place in older homes. For example, large roofing nails were once used rather than the drywall screws that are now used.

Roofing nails have an obvious drawback: they are smooth and do not grip the wood into which they are hammered. That is indeed fine for a roof, where all the nails are bending downward, but it’s not so suitable for walls and ceilings, which have to compete with more gravitational forces.

Wood is used for wall studs and outlining all through the house. Wood naturally dries out and shrinks over time. Hence, in older homes where all of the framing timber has dehydrated out over a time of decades, the framing may move a bit from its initial position or pull away from ceilings and walls.

As a result of the drying and shrinking, the nails become weak in their positions. The roofing nails also have no legitimate gripping strength and are resistant to gravity and other forces. When the nail becomes loose from the wood, it can bump through the drywall and cause a nail pop.

Nail Pops in Newer Homes

In a mixed climate region, more expansion and contraction excessive moisture levels on your wooden frames and far less on the inside of the house. A well-insulated home implies a higher separation between the finished interior and those in the unfinished regions.

Due to outside moisture, the timber in your home’s unfinished areas is still adjusting. Whenever there is more moisture in the air, the wood framing expands, and it contracts when there is less moisture in the air.

In these conditions, timber can twist, deform, and alter at different rates on each wood dimension in the years following the home’s construction and beyond.

Common Causes of Nail Pop

Poor construction methods can occur in any home. Poor construction that causes nail pop is usually the result of improper drywall installation.

  • Screws or nails that are not correctly spaced.
  • Screws or nails that are insufficiently long for the job.
  • Screwing or nailing the screws or nails in too far.
  • Screws or nails that are installed at an angle rather than straight.
  • An inadequate number of drywall fasteners securing to stud.
  • During the fastening process, the stud was not present.
  • Using nails instead of drywall screws.

In other words, the drywall installer has a lot on their plate. Unfortunately, if they make the same mistake over and over again in your home, you may end up with a lot of nail pops.

Nail Pops can also be an indication of deeper issues. While nail pops in walls can be purely cosmetic at times, they are more likely to appear due to a deeper problem, usually foundational.

You don’t want to ignore these issues, especially if you’re dealing with nail pops everywhere. Furthermore, if you attempt to DIY a fix for what appears to be a minor issue, you may eventually end up with nail pops all across your house instead.

A free inspection from HydroHelp911 can help to alleviate these fears and problems associated with nail pops.

Meanwhile, see Will Standing Water In My Crawl Space Go Away?



As we’ve seen in previous sections, there are several frequent causes of nail pop that are far more likely than foundation issues. Of course, we’re not saying that nail pop can’t be a sign of foundation problems in a home. But it won’t be the only sign you notice or the only cause for concern.

In addition to nail pop, you will notice several other symptoms if you have a foundation problem. If you only have nail pop and nothing else, it’s most likely caused by one of the other causes rather than foundation settlement.


If you notice nail pops in your home and other issues, you may have a foundation settlement or a foundation problem. Some of the most prevalent causes of foundation settlement are:

  • Wall cracks run diagonally from window and door frames or other cased openings.
  • Cracks in exterior brick walls caused by stair-steps.
  • Doors and windows stick or do not properly lock, latch, or close.


If your nail pops are purely aesthetic, you can usually fix them on your own with caulk and paint. However, if nail pops signify a foundation problem, you need to consult with a professional like HydroHelp911.

The trouble is that without the help of an expert, you won’t be able to determine which nail pops you can ignore and which ones you should pay attention to.

A foundation inspection necessitates the use of precision tools, which you are unlikely to have. That is why it is critical to call HydroHelp911 and request a free inspection. After the review, you’ll understand that an expert took all of the necessary measurements and analyzed that data to provide you with honest advice on your nail pops issue.


Nail pops occur when construction nails become loose and pop out of the surface of the drywall. A popped nail presses out a small amount of drywall or paint, resulting in a minor bump or crack. Nail pops are found in nearly every home.


Many people may not be concerned about a nail pop or two because it could be an easy installation error. If it isn’t, your home could suffer from severe foundation damage. Drywall nail pops can be an indication of foundation failure, and as the problem advances, it can cause structural damage linked with foundation worsening, such as:

  • Uneven floors
  • Tiles and floorboards are broken
  • Walls and ceilings with cracks
  • Bricks and concrete blocks that have cracked
  • Doors and windows that stick
  • The basement has flooded
  • Mold development
  • Leaks in the foundation
  • Slanted chimney
  • Detached porch or back deck

All of these issues arise as your foundation deteriorates, and the repairs required to correct these issues only become more expensive as more damage occurs. Before things get to that point, it’s critical to contact a professional for an inspection.

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