You may have noticed ceiling cracks in your home and got that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Here's some good news: not all ceiling cracks are signs of foundation damage, some just happen naturally. Just about every home develops ceiling cracks over time. Most of them are merely cosmetic and not caused by structural problems.
The best thing to do if you find cracks in your ceiling is to schedule a free inspection with a reliable contractor, like the ones at My Foundation Repair. If the cracks in your ceiling are wider than 1/8", you may want to start planning for some structural repairs, but it's better to have any crack checked out by a professional. It's better to be overcautious when it comes to the stability of your home. The contractor will check the crack's shape, location, and size to determine its severity and what steps may need to be taken, if any. Our contractors will be honest and won't waste time and money on a fake repair, if it is a truly superficial crack.
These cracks can be caused when a drywall joint wasn't properly taped or mudded. The tape may not be sticking to the drywall and so a "crack" appears where the edge of the tape is. You can either ignore this or apply a small bit of drywall compound to the loose tape and sticking it back on.
If the crack is yellow or brown, it is most likely being caused by a water leak from somewhere overhead. The water can loosen the drywall tape, creating a cracklike appearance like the one described above. You should stop the leak before trying to fix your ceiling or you will be back at step one the next time it leaks. Once the leak is repaired, you can retape the drywall, making it look like new again. If the drywall is swollen or soft, you will want to replace the section before it falls and injures someone or damages your belongings.
Many times a thinned drywall compound is used to make a textured ceiling. However, if the compound was applied too thickly, it can crack in all directions. This occurs because of the compound shrinking as it dries. You can cover the cracks with a layer of thin drywall compound or you can sand off the old compound and reapply it. This may be messier, but it will probably give you better and longer-lasting results.
If you see a horizontal crack running between an interior wall and the ceiling, this may be caused by something called "truss uplift". The trusses holding up your roof are designed to move a little bit to absorb changes caused by temperature and humidity. The truss may move upward, lifting the ceiling with it, which can cause the horizontal crack. This can happen when, during construction, the drywall was attached to the truss near the edge of a non-load bearing wall. It's not going to cause any structural problems, but if you want to repair it, you will probably want to hire a professional, as it is a little more than most homeowners want to take on. The drywall will have to be unattached to the truss and reattached to clips or blocks on the top of the interior plates.
A ceiling crack that is accompanied by a wall crack could be the sign of your foundation settling. Most homes settle naturally and it's not a reason for alarm that something is wrong with your foundation. The settling foundation can cause cracks in walls and ceilings above doors and windows and in corners. You can usually just tape over them and repaint the area, but keep in mind that as your home settles, the cracks will reappear. If the cracks are wider than 1/8", you should have a contractor take a look, as it could be the sign of something serious.
If you live in a home with plaster ceilings and you begin to see cracks, they may be caused by moisture and/or movement. Plaster is not very forgiving, so it doesn't take much for it to crack. We have found that cracks in plaster ceilings tend to be caused by two things: temperature and humidity fluctuations and house settling. If these are small, you can repair them with new plaster. If they are bigger and sections of plaster are falling, you will probably have to remove the plaster and install with a drywall section.
Danger! Danger! Danger! If your ceiling is bowing or sagging, you need to have the problem addressed as soon as possible. If something is heavy above the ceiling, the ceiling joists can sag and you will need to move the cause of the bowing. Another cause may be the removal of a load-bearing wall or damage to the support structure. This type of issue will require an inspection by a structural engineer or contractor. This is a situation that needs to be repaired quickly, before someone gets hurt or property is damaged.
Many times a crack is nothing to worry about, other than it looking ugly. You shouldn't wait for it to get worse, before doing something about it, though. Our contractors offer free inspections if you are the homeowner and they will let you know if you just need to do a cosmetic fix or if you are in need of structural repair. Contact My Foundation Repairs and talk with a contractor to learn more about your ceiling cracks.