Home Improvement—General Ceiling Cracks, ceiling cracks, chris answer

Home Improvement--General Ceiling Cracks, ceiling cracks, chris answer

Home Improvement—General /Ceiling Cracks


Expert: Fred Lauffer — 10/20/2007


QUESTION: Respectfully asking:

I have a ceiling crack in the upper level (right under the attic) of my 3 floor townhouse. The crack runs horizontal across the hallway. Is this crack cause for concern or does it signify problems with my attic? I’m a single female age 23 and I do not have anyone else to ask. What would be some logical steps to take to figure out this problem.

Thank you for your help.



Chris— cracks in ceilings, especially up on a 3rd. are generally not very serious. A wood frame building can shrink as much as 1/4 to 1/2 in. per floor. when you add up all the shrink there can be some all odd results up on the upper levels..

Ceilings under an attic are always prone to cracking. Some «clown» could have stepped on the wrong place. This one of the most common attic cracks come from the Insulator. cable man,,alarm guy. or a bug man,,can cause one of these cracks.

I’m guessing that the crack is about 1/8 in. wide or smaller and It’s dark color inside. not bright white. This could be bad because it indicates fresh opening..

Try this. get a small tub of «spackle»,,good stuff and cheap. It expands when drying. Great for crack filling. Fill the crack. use a putty knife and a finger..Smooth it out,,use a small brush with light amount of water to blend in with the surrounding area. Don’t slop it all over the whole ceiling. nice and neat. When it dries (1-3 hours)- check it,,if it needs a little more repair then do it..

Once it’s dry,,and the repair is complete..It can be a good indicator of any bad or serious problem..If the crack returns in a short time (a month or shorter time) You have a problem with the construction some place. Maybe some wood eating bugs,,a roof leak,,bad wind resistance. unstable foundation or ground.

I would like to know these items,,How old is the house,,is the ceiling area plaster or drywall,,What type of foundation is it..Where is the house. is there any insulation in the attic,,has any one been up in the attic lately,,have there been any bad winds lately.

If this is an older house. with the old style plaster on wooden lath..your looking at plaster beginning to fall apart..This plaster system is at least 70-80 or more years old..It’s at the end of it’s life..With time It gets loose,,cracks and will fall off the walls and ceiling with the smallest vibration..It’s common for whole ceilings to fall down with the kids jumping around in above bedroom. Let me know some of these details. I could give a more definitive answer.


QUESTION: Wow Fred thanks for a really understandable answer! My townhouse was built in 1985 and the ceiling is drywall, attic has insulation, no one’s been up there at all — not even me — since I moved in. I’m in Maryland and the weather has been very very dry all summer. The foundation is concrete. One thing that I might mention is that I recently had an old deck demolished and a new one installed on the 2nd story rear of the townhouse. Lots of banging, etc. Would something like that contribute? I only noticed the crack in the week since they finished construction. Hmmm, could that be related?

Thanks Fred, I mean it — the best answer I’ve received and also thanks for the chance to follow up with more specifics.




Chris—I think you» hit the nail» on your crack..Those «clowns» were banging the whole house instead of trying to be slow and careful. Take some pictures of the crack and start a good diary of the events. You may have some legal recourse against them.

Still, try the spackle treatment..It will be a good test of any additional movement causing more cracks..Take a good look around the outside walls where the work was done..All floors.

Go outside and look very carefully for any other cracks or other bad things..Lots of pics outside also. Make sure the house sides look good and tight,,no trash or garbage is laying around. did they regrade all banged up dirt and grass. Are all the side walls put back together good and tight. No bulges, gaps, holes or torn sidings.

It is the same story as above. if the repaired crack or any other ones start. then we will have to start to look a lot deeper. Hope not..You may need to find a good structural man for a verification of the problem.

GOOD LUCK FRED L. (Thanks for the kind words)

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