It is rare to witness cracks in a newly constructed house if you adhere to the right construction techniques. However, if you apply poor construction skills, you would have cracks on the ceiling; and more cracks can occur when the house ages.
Ceiling cracks can cause anxiety, but you should not fret as there are ways to deal with the cracks and restore your house to its glory. The ceiling repair should not be expensive, and you can fix it by yourself or seek professional engineering help.
First, you should know the types of ceiling cracks appearing in your home and the extent of damage to the structure. These ceiling repair tips will help you restore your ceiling and safeguard your home from wear and tear, reducing property value.
What Causes Ceiling Cracks
House Movement Due to Wind
Your house will move in response to strong wind, and this might be advantageous as it strengthens the foundation. Otherwise, the house could break down at the slightest earthquake traumas and other ground vibrations.
The wind blows against the house roof and walls, and the force on the structure varies in speed and intensity. If you live directly to the winding path, your house will twist, defect and deform, and these deflections are so small, you will not notice them most of the time. Even a house with a strong foundation will have flexible components, which allows it to deflect during windy days.
Unfortunately, strong winds might exert too much pressure on the building leading to noticeable deflect, which can cause damage to house structures.
The ceiling is the first part that is easily damaged by strong winds; thus, if your house is exposed to strong winds frequently, you might start to notice cracks on the ceiling.
The cracks on the ceiling might not be an issue as it is a way your house releases tension and settles in a relaxed way reducing the pressure from the wind. Thus the wind cracks strengthen the house against future wind blows.
High temperatures during the day expand different house structures slightly; unfortunately, different house components expand at different rates. The house materials like brickwork, wood, metal, plaster, concrete, and stone will expand at different rates.
Since these items are bonded together, they are forced to act as a single unit, but since they expand at different rates, they can cause cracks. The cracking of the bonds might impact the ceiling leading to ceiling cracks.
House Drying After Construction
Plastering the house and the ceiling requires mixing the gypsum powder with water to give a pliable paste that bonds on the ceiling and the walls. After applying the paste to the ceiling, you should allow it to dry; as it loses water, the ceiling might crack.
You should allow it to dry out slowly to reduce the drying impacts, and if the construction team rushes the drying process, it might leave a crack.
The water might soak on the ceilings if your house experiences dampening due to a busted indoor piping system. As the water from a leaky pipe dries from the ceiling, it forms cracks.
Another issue that could cause ceiling cracks in an old house is installing the central system, which dries off any damp surfaces.
The house foundation should give your house a solid and immobile base preventing it from collapsing and cracking. However, some foundations are more affected than others, and if the subsoil or the bedrock does not support the foundation, it might not support the home as expected.
Moreover, even if your house is well secured to the bedrock, the bedrock might experience earthquakes which impacts the house’s stability.
If water seeps into the compressed subsoil, it may lead to instability, leading to uneven support and foundation cracks, resulting in ceiling and wall cracks.
Different Load and Additional Weight Upstairs
As the house ages, you might need to repair the roof; however, getting the precise weight distribution might be challenging leading to different loads on the rooftop.
The different weight load impacts weight distribution leading to cracks. Moreover, additional weight upstairs in apartments might impact the ceiling quality leading to cracks.
A new house will hold well against wind pressure and roof weight; however, its stability declines as the house gets old. You might notice tiny roof cracks on your aging house due to the impact of different forces.
Fortunately, these cracks become spider web cracks that do not cause a serious impact on the structure.
What to do About Cracks in the Ceiling
Fixing Fine Ceiling Cracks
The fine cracks on the wall appear due to house aging and other climatic factors like the temperature changes, and they do not indicate major problems. Thus, you can fix the fine cracks with a thin plaster layer.
Although the plaster layer might crack as well, you can let it dry slowly before painting. Sometimes, you can repair the fine lines with PVA adhesives, especially if the fine lines do not extend deep into the ceiling.
However, if the lines are running from the ceiling to the walls, it might be better to contact a structural engineer or a builder to determine what is going on and how to resolve the issue.
Cracks Associated With Indoor Dampness
If the lines on the ceiling seem to occur due to dampness, you should ensure there are no leakages from the roof. If there is roof leakage, you can opt for a home roof replacement kit that repairs the roof.
If the leakage occurs from water bursts in the upstairs rooms, it could be better to look for a plumber to repair the damages.
Extended Cracks on the Ceiling and Foundation
Some cracks on the ceiling might indicate an unstable foundation; thus, an engineer can examine the house foundation to find the real cause. If the foundation is very unstable, the house might be at risk of structural collapse.
It would be better to vacate the house before it collapses, causing extended damage. Next time you would like to build another house, you would inspect the estate to ensure the house is not near frequently vibrating ground such as the airports or train lines.
Although you can repair the cracks on the ceiling, walls, and foundation yourself, it would be better to consult an engineer.
An engineer can resolve the issues with a faulty foundation easily. They might repair the foundation without compromising the whole building. A stable foundation helps keep your house in good condition.
7 Types of Ceiling Cracks
1. Spider Web Cracks
The spider web cracks on the roof are very fine cracks that result from the natural house going. The web cracks could occur due to varying load, foundation shifts, and humidity, and they are cosmetic. The fine cracks should be less than 1/16 inches wide, and you should not worry about their appearance.
However, you should let a professional check the spider web cracks if you feel they are deeply extended or pose structural damage.
2. Fine Straight Cracks
The fine straight cracks on the ceiling could occur due to poorly taped plasterboard sheet joints. Properly joint plasterboard sheets form tiny gaps, which allows the building to adjust in windy conditions.
The mesh tape on the boards also strengthens the boards, but poorly taped joints do not offer enough flexibility leading to straight cracks on the ceiling.
3. The Vertical Ceiling Cracks
The vertical ceiling cracks run across the ceiling and down vertically from the same point. The cracks are caused by weak walls and could indicate issues with the house foundation.
The vertical lines might extend from the ceiling to the walls or the floor; the vertical cracks might indicate serious construction issues which need immediate attention.
4. Discolored Cracks on the Ceiling
When the roof leaks, it leads to water seepage to the ceiling making the plasterboards soak. These joints become lost due to water accumulation, leading to brown or yellow cracks on the ceiling.
The brown cracks show water missed with dust and plaster particles leading to discoloration. The water-related cracks can dampen your house and weaken other house structures, leading to structural losses.
5. Bowed Ceilings With Cracks
Weak ceiling joint support can make the ceiling bow, and damage can happen along the joints. These issues might result from improper weight distribution, especially in an apartment with upstairs neighbors. Moreover, if your house has a heavier roof, it might impact the foundation and ceiling.
6. Cracks Between the Wall and the Ceiling
The ceiling trusses and beams should contract and expand evenly without causing any harm. However, if they do not expand as expected, it could result in cracks between the ceiling and the walls.
The cracks would occur due to natural causes such as temperature changes and humidity. As the wood moves, it might cause a crack to appear in the space between the walls and the ceiling.
7. Vibration Cracks
A house near a busy road or underground railway is prone to vibration cracks. The vibration cracks on the ceiling might occur from the continual ground shaking from the large vehicles. Your house might move slightly due to the vibrations interfering with the foundation and the ceiling.
The vibration cracks might be minor, especially if they lead to fine lines, but if the cracks extend to the floor, they might indicate a serious issue with the foundation.
Cost to Repair a Ceiling
|Type of Repair||Average Repair Costs (Labor Included)|
|Hairline Cracks in Plaster||$100 – $300|
|Crack||$100 – $500|
|Joist||$150 – $700|
|Beam||$150 – $1,000|
|Leak||$500 – $2,000|
Should I Worry About Cracks in my Ceiling?
You should not be worried about cracks on the ceiling, especially the spider web cracks that occur due to plaster drying. These minor cracks would occur as the house adjusts to the weather and wind blows.
However, if the cracks run down the wall and the foundation, the cracks might indicate severe foundation issues, which can cause structural collapse leading to property and life loss.
How to Repair a Minor Crack in a Ceiling?
You can repair a minor spider web crack on the wall using a thin plaster layer or adhesive sheets to seal the cracks. You should let the thin plaster layer dry well before painting on it.
When Do You Know if Ceiling Cracks are Serious?
You can know the ceiling cracks are serious if they run vertically on the roof to the walls and into the foundation. Moreover, deep cracks that run from a single point vertically on the ceiling might indicate serious construction problems, and you should also inspect the foundation for such deep-seated cracks.
Do Cracks in Walls Mean Foundation Problems?
The cracks on the wall do not always indicate foundation problems; they could occur if the engineers did not let the house dry well before painting the walls. However, if the cracks run from the ceiling to the walls and the floor, it might indicate serious foundation problems.
Why are Cracks Appearing in My House?
The cracks could be appearing in your house if the walls or the ceiling did not dry well during the construction. The plaster should dry over a prolonged time to avoid cracks in the house.
The cracks could occur due to climatic factors such as blowing wind against the structure. As the building adjusts to the stress, it might crack, but these cracks make the foundation stable. The discolored cracks result from a faulty drainage system letting moisture into the building. Moreover, the cracks might result from an unstable foundation.
Can a House Collapse From Cracks?
Yes, a house can collapse from cracks, but this is rare. Fine cracks make the house more stable as it adjusts to the wind blows and drying ceiling and wall plaster. However, deep-seated cracks that run from the ceiling to the walls and floor would occur due to a weak foundation, leading to structural collapses.
Cracks can occur on the ceiling due to the drying of the plastering material used to construct the ceiling. These types of ceiling cracks are normal.
However, if the cracks are deep into the ceiling surface, it might indicate serious issues with the house foundation. Discolored cracks on the ceiling might happen due to leakages, and it would be better to deal with the leakages first.