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  • Writer's picturePaul Kulzer

Cracks in Ceiling

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

Are Ceiling Cracks Serious? Causes Of Ceiling Cracks And When To Worry.

So, are ceiling cracks serious? Let’s answer that by starting off with some good news…

Ceiling cracks aren’t necessarily a sign of structural damage. Yes, they can be a sign of serious structural damage but they often aren’t. Usually the older the home, the more cracks or spiderwebbing you might find.

It all depends on the size, type, and location of the crack.

This short article will give you basic information on ceiling cracks, what causes them, and when you should contact a foundation professional.

Are ceiling cracks serious?

As we just pointed out, they could be. Usually, ceiling cracks are caused by one of two things: structural damage or settling (all structures settle to some extent after they’re built). If the ceiling cracks are due to normal settling, there’s usually nothing to worry about. However, if they’re caused by structural damage, you’ll need to take action and you can’t do that unless you know what to look for.

What causes cracks in ceilings?

There are two main causes of ceiling cracks: Structural damage and the natural settling that happens as a building ages. Ceiling cracks can also be caused by poor workmanship.

  • Your home is getting older. Do you look and feel like you did when you were ten? Well, your home doesn’t either. Normal wear and tear – which includes foundation settling – happens naturally as a building ages and can cause cracks not only in the ceiling, but wall cracks and floor cracks as well.

  • You have moisture damage. Ceiling cracks can also happen because of moisture damage. The moisture might be coming from the roof or from the floor immediately above the ceiling. Did a recent powerful storm sweep through your area bringing considerable rainfall? Is there a possible plumbing leak above the cracked ceiling?

  • The floor above the ceiling is too heavy. Is there something heavy in the attic or on the floor above the cracked ceiling? Bathrooms especially need ceiling support because they contain heavy items like bathtubs.

  • Something is wrong with your drywall. Drywall that hasn’t been properly installed will often crack, and cracks in ceiling drywall usually aren’t serious. For example, this can happen when drywall joints aren’t properly taped. In this case, the installer doesn’t use enough drywall mud while taping the joints and as a result the tape doesn’t stick. As the tape comes loose, it causes the drywall to crack.

  • You have foundation problems. Unfortunately, ceiling cracks can also be a sign of serious structural damage. For example, foundation settlement can cause ceiling cracks. This happens because foundation settlement puts stress on the building’s frame. If ceiling cracks are caused by structural damage, you need to catch them early.

Learn how we can help with foundation or wall settling here.

When to worry

If you see any of these cracks, start looking for other signs of structural damage. This will help you determine if the cracks are serious. Signs of structural damage include…

  • Uneven floors that slope or sag.

  • Doors and windows that stick.

  • Cracks in flooring that aren’t limited to one tile. Look for cracks that go all the way across the floor in a straight line.

  • Cracked or bowed walls.

  • Wall rotation. This is caused by excess moisture under the foundation. As the outside edge of the foundation sinks into the soggy soil, the inside edge lifts up and causes the wall to rotate.

  • Moldings that are cracked or out of place. This happens because things aren’t moving in sync.

  • Stair step cracks in bricks or masonry.

  • Walls that are no longer in contact with the ceiling or the floor.

  • Porches or chimneys that have separated from the building.

  • Water in your basement. This can be caused by cracks in the foundation wall.

Also think about whether there have been any recent earthquakes, landslides, problems with sinkholes, or anything else that could have caused structural damage.

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