How do you know if a ceiling crack is serious? Well, that’s why it’s important to understand ceiling cracks, when to worry about them, and how to repair them. The fact is that not all cracks in the ceiling may pose a serious threat to the structural integrity of your home’s foundation. Or, be a sign of existing structural damage. 

That’s why it’s crucial that you know the signs and symptoms of ceiling cracks that need immediate attention. And, the size, type of crack it is, and its location will determine the seriousness of the matter.

This blog will help you know all about ceiling cracks, when to worry about them, what causes them, and how to repair the serious ones at the earliest.

Are all ceiling cracks serious?

ceiling cracks

Usually, ceiling cracks could reflect just some normal settling as all houses settle, age, move, and change a bit after they’re built. In such a case, you have nothing to worry about. However, if the ceiling cracks are caused by structural damage, you’ll need to take action.

What causes ceiling cracks?

As mentioned above, the two main causes of ceiling cracks are structural damage and natural settling. Less often, it could be because of poor workmanship. For example, the removal of a load-bearing wall was done without proper support – causing small cracks.

Some of the reasons there are cracks in the ceiling are:

  • You live in an old home and it’s going through normal wear and tear or the foundation settling as the building ages. In such cases, you’ll also be able to spot wall cracks and floor cracks.
  • Your house has moisture damage. The excessive moisture could be coming from the floor above or the roof due to a strong storm or considerable rainfall in your area. Another reason could be a possible plumbing leak just above the ceiling.
  • The floor above could be too heavy due to maybe a huge item in the attic or a large bathtub in the bathroom above.
  • Your drywall hasn’t been properly installed or the ceiling drywall joints aren’t properly taped – resulting in visible cracks. 
  • You have serious foundation problems that are putting stress on your building’s frame. 

Types of ceiling cracks

All buildings move as they age. The imperceptible movement could be because of seasonal temperature changes or the shrinking and expansion of the soil underneath. But, would you be able to identify the exact type of crack it is and its reason? Here are a few common types of ceiling cracks visible to the eye.

  • Spiderweb cracks in the plaster or paint: These are probably nothing to be concerned about. Plaster ceilings frequently develop thin cracks as a result of very slight natural building movement. Or, they could just be superficial cracks in the ceiling paint.
  • Cracks that run all the way across the ceiling and then down a wall: These may be due to structural damage. You need to contact a foundation professional at the earliest.
  • Cracking and sagging ceiling: Again, this could be quite a serious issue and needs to be looked at immediately.
  • A crack or gap between the wall and the ceiling: Such a crack could be a result of foundation settlement and is best examined by a pro.

Ceiling cracks: When to worry

worry for ceiling cracks

Whether it’s a cosmetic problem due to aging or something serious depends on the size of the crack, its location, and what caused it. Here’s a rundown on ceiling cracks, when to worry, and call a professional for a thorough home inspection and repair work. 

Keep in mind that while this article provides useful pointers and potential causes of ceiling cracks, these cannot replace the value of a professional foundation inspection.

  • Ceiling cracks along with sagging need immediate attention.
  • A continuous ceiling crack across the ceiling and down a wall reflects a serious structural issue. 
  • Multiple ceiling cracks in different locations of the house could indicate a serious structural problem. 

How serious is structural damage?

The cracks caused by structural problems will more often than not be accompanied by other vital signs and symptoms. Do keep in mind that a recent earthquake, landslide, or problem with a sinkhole could be the culprit for the structural damage. A foundation pro will give you a better idea of the underlying cause.

A few signs of structural damage include:

  • Sloping, uneven, or sagging floor. 
  • Difficulty in opening doors and windows.
  • Cracks in flooring that go all the way across in a straight line.
  • Bowed ceiling or cracked walls.
  • Slight wall rotation. 
  • Cracked or shifted moldings.
  • Stairstep cracks in stucco, masonry, or brick.
  • A wide gap between the walls, the ceiling, and the floor.
  • Moved porches or chimneys.
  • Water accumulation in your basement due to cracks in the foundation wall or foundation floor.

How to repair cracks in the ceiling? 

Cosmetic hairline cracks caused by paint or plaster build-up can be easily taken care of by removing the old paint or plaster and then repainting or re-plastering. However, if the ceiling cracks are serious, indicating red flags, you’ll need the services of a professional – a foundation pro, a structural engineer, or a builder. 

They will have specific solutions to the specific type of cracking. For example, a fine, straight crack could be rectified by taping joints or by applying a drywall compound or drywall mud. The pro will know the best ways to deal with the issue.

Remember that if repair is required, doing so early on will be considerably less expensive than waiting until it becomes a major issue.

Last thoughts

Whether red flag ceiling cracks or superficial ones, once you notice them, it’s a good idea to do a little investigation of what caused them. Of course, if it’s an older home, some ceiling cracks can be expected.

However, if you start to notice multiple cracks in a brand-new house, or in unusual places, you should take immediate action and hire a professional

Know what are ceiling cracks, when to worry about them was last modified: October 14th, 2022 by Ramona Sinha
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