Cracks in the ceiling aren’t always indicative of structural problems. Yes, they can indicate major structural damage, but they aren’t always the case. It all depends on the crack’s size, nature, and location.
This article will provide you with basic information on the many types of ceiling cracks in a drywall, what causes them, and when you should worry or consult a foundation expert.
Common Cracks in the Ceiling of a House
#1. Hairline Cracks in the Ceiling
Hairline ceiling cracks are small, thin fissures that resemble hair painted on the drywall. They are most commonly caused by plaster or drywall mud problems, rather than the drywall itself. Extreme changes in humidity and temperature can cause plaster to expand and contract (in direct correlation with the water absorption).
The drywall mud’s adhesive qualities are weakened by constant expansion and shrinkage.
Furthermore, crazing — those minute hairline cracks – is more likely when a ceiling has numerous layers of paint. Multiple layers of paint can also give your ceiling a scaly appearance that looks like crocodile skin.
Hairline ceiling cracks are unsightly, but they do not indicate major structural damage. They are usually easily remedied by applying a fresh coat of paint. Hairline cracks can be avoided by controlling the temperature and humidity.
#2. Ceiling Cracks That Are Straight
Ceiling cracks run in a straight line, so straight that they nearly appear to have been applied with a ruler. Because they follow the straight edge of the drywall tape along the drywall joint, these cracks are usually straight. Ceiling cracks are usually fine and are caused by a lack of plaster during the drywall installation. Due to a lack of strength, the drywall tape is unable to attach properly to the joints and rips away.
In addition to extreme humidity, foundation settlement can worsen poor tape work.
In a nutshell, straight lines cracks in the ceiling are nearly often the result of poor drywall tape application. Patching and painting can be done swiftly by an expert. Straight ceiling cracks are usually not ominous or indications of major structural damage; they are simply the result of human error.
#2. Cracks in the ceiling that are yellow or brown
Ceiling cracks that are yellow, brown, or discolored nearly invariably indicate water damage, whether from a roof leak or a burst pipe. These ceiling cracks may be moist to the touch, depending on how recent the leak is.
Before repairing your drywall, locate the source of the leak and remedy it if you have yellow or brown ceiling cracks.
Ceiling cracks that are discolored aren’t always a symptom of major structural damage, but uncontrolled moisture can lead to mold, rotten drywall, and spalling (depending on the location and extent of the leak). If the cracks are tiny enough, you can paint over them; however, larger cracks may require expert drywall replacement.
#3. Ceiling Cracks that Look Like Spiderwebs
Ceiling cracks in the shape of spiderwebs branch out in a spiderweb pattern. Foundation settlement is frequently indicated by spiderweb ceiling cracks (denoting compromised structural integrity).
When a house settles, it does so in an uneven manner. This uneven settling puts unnecessary pressure on the foundation of the house, which is then transferred to the framing and drywall. In addition to spiderweb ceiling cracks, other foundation settlement symptoms to check for include:
- Window and door frames that aren’t square
- Slant Floors.
If the spiderweb cracks in your ceiling are less than 1/16th of an inch, you probably don’t need to be concerned. When drywall mud is applied too thinly, spiderweb cracks can appear on the ceiling after it has dried.
#4. Cracks Between the Wall and Ceiling.
Truss uplift is the most common cause of ceiling cracks that appear to peel away from the wall. The roof and ceiling’s shape is determined by the trusses, which operate as a frame for the roof and ceiling. Ceiling trusses are made to be flexible and react to changes in humidity and temperature. The trusses can occasionally pull away from the ceiling, mainly owing to strong winds or weather changes.
This results in a gap between your wall and ceiling that is ugly. The inappropriate installation of the ceiling to a non-load-bearing wall is the most common cause of this gap. This is a more serious ceiling crack that should be handled by experts, such as a construction company.
#5. Large Ceiling Cracks and a Bowed Ceiling
There is most certainly substantial structural damage if your ceiling is sagging and scarred with wide, conspicuous cracks down the center. Extreme water damage, an excessive amount of weight on the floor above the ceiling, or foundation settlement might all endanger the structural integrity.
The trusses and framing above your ceiling might be overloaded by foundation settlement, causing the ceiling to bend and the sheetrock to break. To find out if your foundation is settling, schedule a foundation examination with a local foundation repair specialist.
What Causes Ceiling Cracks?
Ceiling cracks are caused by two main factors: structural deterioration and natural settling as a building age. Poor workmanship might also lead to ceiling cracks.
#1. Your house is starting to show its age.
Do you have the same appearance and personality as you did when you were 10 years old? Your house, on the other hand, does not. As a structure age, it experiences normal wear and strain, which includes foundation settling, which can result in cracks not only in the ceiling but also in the cracks and cracks.
#2. Moisture damage has occurred.
Moisture damage to the ceiling can also cause cracks. It’s possible that the moisture is coming from the roof or the floor just above the ceiling. Have you recently experienced a big storm that dumped a lot of rain in your area? Is there a chance there’s a plumbing leak above the split in the ceiling?
#3. The weight of the floor above the ceiling is excessive.
Is there anything substantial in the attic or above the cracked ceiling on the floor? Bathrooms, in particular, require ceiling support because they house heavy things such as bathtubs.
#4. There’s a problem with your drywall.
Drywall that hasn’t been put properly will crack, and the cracks on the ceiling are usually little. When drywall joints aren’t correctly taped, for example, this can happen. The installer doesn’t use enough drywall mud when taping the joints in this scenario, and the tape doesn’t hold as a result. As the tape loosens, the drywall begins to break.
#5. You have issues with your foundation.
Ceiling cracks, unfortunately, can sometimes indicate major structural danger. Ceiling cracks, for example, can be caused by foundation settlement. This occurs as a result of the foundation settling, which puts stress on the structure’s frame. If structural deterioration is the cause of the ceiling cracks, you must address them as soon as possible.
What Do Cracks In Ceilings Indicate?
Large ceiling cracks indicate severe structural deterioration. Extreme water damage, foundation settlement, or just too much weight on the ceiling above might all jeopardize structural integrity. If your ceiling is literally starting to concave, it poses a major safety hazard.
Is It Normal To Have Cracks In Ceilings?
Ceiling cracks are a common occurrence and are frequently more of an aesthetic concern than a structural issue. However, some ceiling cracks may necessitate quick professional care.
Should I Worry About Hairline Cracks In Ceiling?
Generally, no, but if the cracks appear to be extensive, seek professional advice. Thin hair-like cracks in the paint/plaster are mainly cosmetic flaws. Small cracks like these frequently form as the temperature/humidity changes or when you do DIY projects like installing a light fitting.
When To Worry About Ceiling Cracks
The majority of ceiling cracks are purely aesthetic. They can usually be corrected if they bother you. Cracks, on the other hand, could suggest an underlying issue. So, when should you worry about the cracks in the ceiling?
Ceiling cracks are related to two types of issues: structural issues and foundational issues. The foundation is what separates the rooms where you reside from the dirt beneath your house.
Because foundation problems become more difficult to address the longer they go unnoticed, a ceiling crack can serve as a valuable warning sign to the vigilant homeowner.
In a classic wood-framed house, structural issues such as weak or missing studs and joists could jeopardize your immediate safety. If you’re concerned about structural issues in a room with ceiling cracks, consider the following questions:
- Are the doors and windows as easy to open and close as they once were?
- Have you noticed any cracks in your tile or vinyl flooring?
- Have you seen any new cracks above the door and window frames recently?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should have a professional assess the situation as soon as possible.
The worst-case scenario is, of course, the collapse of the ceiling. If you’ve been worrying yourself insane about it, here are some questions you may ask to help you relax:
- Was there a resounding thud?
- Is there anything on the ceiling that looks like small circles or bubbles? (This could indicate that the ceiling is separating from its fasteners.)
- Is there any sagging or drooping in the space, particularly towards the ceiling?
If you replied yes, leave the location immediately and don’t return until a structural engineer has deemed it safe.
Dangerous Ceiling Cracks
While many ceiling cracks are merely decorative, some might be hazardous.
If you detect any of the following features, contact a structural engineer or a building professional to assess the structural integrity and foundation of your home.
#1. Cracks in the Ceiling Structure
Sagging or bowing is a term used to describe when something is sagging or bowing. A ‘load-bearing wall‘ is a structural component of your home that distributes the weight of the roof and upper floors to the foundation. These walls cannot be removed without jeopardizing the house’s structural integrity.
They can also only support a certain amount of weight. When a load-bearing wall is removed or a heavy item is added on the second story, the ceiling frequently sags, bows, and cracks.
There are many cracks, cracks that are longer than 1-2 feet in length, or cracks that are larger than 1/16″ in width. The crack in question is vertical, spanning the entire ceiling and continuing down the wall.
Fixing Minor Ceiling Cracks
#1. Ceiling Cracks Should Be Cleaned
Pry off loose paint and drywall compound with the utility knife and five-in-one tool. Also, get rid of any old mesh or paper tape. Work with the crack lengthwise rather than sideways.
#2. Joint Compound Spread
Spread the joint compound on the cracks with the drywall knife. Spread out to a width of about 3 inches. You should spread it out thinly.
#3. Using Tape
Tape the wet joint compound with paper tape. As much as possible, center the ceiling crack with the tape. With the drywall knife, press down on the tape.
#4. Apply Joint Compound
Over the tape, apply a thin layer of joint compound. To hide the tape’s edges, feather out the edges.
#5. Joint Compound retouch
Sand any high spots after the joint compound has cured. Fill in any parts of the joint compound that are missing. This may necessitate a second coat in its whole. Allow to dry before sanding to make it smooth.
#6. Paint and Prime
Prime the area when the joint compound has cured, then roll on ceiling paint to match the existing ceiling paint.
Fixing Major Ceiling Cracks
#1. Organize Your Attic
You’ll need to get into the attic to remedy serious cracks. Bedroom closets, corridors, and garages are common places to find attic access doors. Using the flashlight, locate the crack’s location. Insulation made of clear loose-fill or fiberglass batts.
#2. Drywall Cracks Should Be Removed
Cut out the region of the crack plus 1 to 2 inches beyond it with a drywall jab saw.
Tip: Instead of uneven shapes that follow the fracture, cut a standard shape with parallel sides (such as 6 inches wide by 48 inches long).
#3. Joists should be measured
Measure the distance between the joists before leaving the attic. The spacing should be 14 1/2 inches in most homes with 16-inch-on-center joists.
#4. Create Plywood Backer Board
Cut 1/2-inch plywood 14 1/2 inches wide by the length of the hole you made in the drywall plus 3 or 4 inches on both ends, up to 8 feet. If required, add more plywood.
#5. Cut Section for Drywall Replacement
Cut 1/2-inch or 5/8-inch drywall to match the thickness of the existing drywall with a utility knife. Then, cut a piece to fit the cutout in the ceiling.
#6. Place the Plywood Backer Board should be placed here.
Place the plywood backer board on top of the cut-out section in the attic. Before you go downstairs, temporarily place a hefty item on the board. While you drill from below, the hefty item will hold the plywood in place.
#7. Glue in the Replacement Section
Using drywall screws, secure the drywall replacement section to the plywood. At each end, add more screws through the existing drywall and into the extra plywood backer.
#8. Paint and Finish
Using drywall tape, finish the edges of the repaired piece. Cover the edges with joint compound. Sand. After applying primer to the patch, paint it to match the ceiling color.
All houses, including new ones, settle into the ground. You’ll notice a few minor cracks here and there, especially on the ceiling, when this happens. The majority of the time, minor cracks do not signify a serious structural problem. However, it’s helpful to know what to look out for. You’ll be able to notice any severe cracks and take fast action if they do occur.
Contact a foundation professional if you notice any cracks you aren’t sure about. They’ll come out, assess the property, and determine what has to be done if there is structural damage.
Cracks In Ceiling FAQs
When should you worry about cracks in ceiling?
Ceiling cracks and drooping suggest a possible structural issue that has to be addressed right away. It’s almost probably a structural concern if one large, continuous ceiling crack runs across the ceiling and down a wall.
What causes hairline cracks in ceiling?
A problem with the plaster above the drywall is frequently the cause of hairline cracks. The plaster can expand or contract due to changes in temperature or humidity, resulting in microscopic cracks. These are minor cosmetic issues that can be readily remedied with basic cosmetic touch-ups.
Does homeowners insurance cover cracks in ceiling?
Unfortunately, most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover cracked walls.