There are a host of reasons as to why cracks appear in ceilings. Some of them are minor while others are indicators of major issues with the home.
Plumbing leaks, roof damage, and temperature changes can lead to moisture accumulating and damaging ceilings. You likely will notice discoloration around the crack. In this case, the most important thing to do is address the source of the leak. This could mean pipe repair if the ceiling is below a bathroom, or fixing holes or loose shingles on the roof. If the moisture is a result of temperature changes and humidity in the air, your foundation probably is suffering, too. Have a professional look at your foundation to determine if humidity is causing damage.
If drywall was not correctly installed and too little mud was used, the tape might come loose. This usually results in a straight, thin line that looks like a crack but actually is the tape’s edge. This is a minor issue and unless it bothers you to look at it, you can leave it as is.
Small cracks in plaster can mean moisture is affecting the wooden beams in your attic. Moisture causes wood to expand and when drying, it contracts. This movement may be enough to shift a plaster ceiling and cause cracking. In the case of smaller cracks, you can fill them in with fresh plaster and paint over them. Large cracks may require replacing the plaster with drywall.
Like cars, a floor can only take so much weight before it starts to lower. If you have something heavy above a cracked ceiling such as a bathtub, it may be that the weight is too much for the floor above to support. If this isn’t the case, check that support beams have not been damaged or were improperly installed.
Types of Cracks
Hairline cracks that emanate from a center crack are called spider web cracks. Most times, if they are very thin, they are normal results from a settling house. All homes settle, regardless of how new they are. A foundation and the home’s weight presses down on the earth and no matter how well the soil was tamped prior to the foundation’s pouring, the soil will shift a bit.
Larger spider web cracks are indicative of structural issues, such as the foundation settling too much because of improper installation, or moisture issues wearing away at the foundation’s concrete. When waterproofing fails in the basement and foundation, cracks can form in them and threaten the structural integrity of your home.
Long, vertical cracks that start at the ceiling and travel down the wall mean there is a serious structural problem with your home. Your home has shifted so much that the framing and support structures have moved from their original flush positions.
How to Determine if the Foundation is to Blame
First, rule out anything else the crack could be from, such as excess weight above, roof damage, or natural expansion and contraction. Then look at your foundation and basement. Look at both the inside and outside for cracks or pieces of crumbling concrete. Inside, check to see if there are water spots or mold growing. Are the basement walls bowing? If so, it’s likely a waterproofing problem affecting the foundation and causing it to shift – which can lead to ceiling cracks.
Acculevel Knows Foundations
At Acculevel, we have the expertise to evaluate your foundation or basement to determine if waterproofing problems and damage to the foundation has caused any ceiling cracks. If the problem isn’t the foundation, we will tell you that. We won’t try to get you to repair anything that doesn’t require fixing. If something does need repair, our skilled staff knows exactly what to do. For a free in-home estimate, contact us at (866) 669-3349 or [email protected].