What does a cracked ceiling mean? 

Jul 27, 2022

Deciphering ceiling cracks can be complex. They come in different sizes, colourations, types, and forms. Now you’re stressed, wondering: how serious are the cracks that I see on my ceiling? These cracks don’t always necessarily entail serious structural damage, but still, prevention is better than a cure. This brief article provides the basic rundown on important things you need to know about cracked ceilings.

vertical crack ceiling sydney
Lines, lines, lines. What does it really mean?

Types of cracks on a ceiling 

Some factors that cause cracks:

  • Time (Aging)
  • Drywall issues
  • Heavy floor above the ceiling
  • Moisture damage
  • Natural phenomena (Earthquakes, heavy rain, landslides, sinkholes)

Fine cracks 

Seeing spiderweb-like squiggles on your ceiling? This type of crack is really nothing to worry about because they are generally superficial. These cracks are normal! They could be a result of a poorly taped or mudded joint or an accumulation of previous layers of old paint. Usually, the layers underneath the topcoat get brittle from wear and tear, expand and contract from temperature and moisture changes, a reaction different from the sturdier topcoat. They aren’t a big problem and generally speaking, they don’t need to be addressed as they are aesthetic, you can address them by applying a thin coat of drywall compound which solves the issue.

Cracks that are very straight 

This type of crack is looking very straight because it follows the straight edge of the tape at a drywall joint. When an inadequate amount of plaster is applied, it results in the plaster tape coming loose. The appearance of a straight line crack in a ceiling may also be due to the location of where an old wall was removed, especially if the wall was load-bearing and in turn the join between the wall and the new support beam was taped. If there is movement in the foundations or expansion and contraction of this timber, a straight crack will appear. 

Cracks with discolouration 

Yellow, brown, and other mucky colourations on your ceiling stem from water damage. Sagging, staining, and even peeling. These all mean that there is excess water stagnant on or in your ceiling. Roof leakage, faulty busted pipes, or faulty shower fittings are the main suspects of this occurrence, especially if there is a bathroom or wet area upstairs. Moisture in the ceiling’s drywall panel can lead to joint tape loosening—giving off that ‘cracked’ appearance. This discolouration shows a moisture problem. Because this might be an indication of a leaking or burst pipe or a leak in your roof, it is a must that you have the area checked and repaired before the issue gets worse.

cracked peeling ceiling sydney
The urge to completely peel off peeling paint is strong, but is the damage only on the outside?

Cracks with peeling paint 

If the cracks in your ceiling are the result of paint peeling as opposed to cracks in your actual ceiling, the paint and its adherence is to blame. If you spot that your ceiling’s paint is starting to peel, the culprits could be improper paint job (such as too many layers of paint, incompatible paint type, or uneven surfaces) execution, or excessive moisture and humidity. Notice how the peeling occurs first in areas like your kitchen, bathroom, or your laundry? Not only is it an unpleasant sight to see, but peeling or chipping paint bits could also be potentially dangerous for you and your family, especially when breathed in. Time to take action by completely scraping off the area affected and applying the appropriate primer and top coat. It is also a wise idea to consider decreasing the humidity in the room by installing an exhaust fan and improving the air circulation in the space, to prevent paint from peeling again in the future.

Cracks where the ceiling meets the wall 

Truss uplifts happen when your home’s roof is affected by humidity and temperature changes, which cause small movements. Know that it is a very common occurrence because homes are designed to withstand strong external factors. Trusses are designed for some flexibility, expansion, and contraction, but only a small amount of movement can occur without cracks appearing. The solution is to make readjustments such as reattachment of fittings to the trusses and drywall using blocks or clips and to look at the foundations in your home, especially if your home is on stumps, readjustment of stumps may be required. 

Large cracks with a bowed ceiling

Major sagging or bowing is a problem that needs your immediate attention. Your ceiling joists might sag from the excessive weight from recent or long-time movement. These cracks might also be caused by the incorrect removal of a load-bearing wall. Take note that the structural integrity of your walls might be compromised. Your house might be experiencing movement and the walls are where the first warning signs of damage are seen. Structural engineers and trusted building contractors should examine the specific areas.

discoloured cracked ceiling sydney
Leaks could be happening on your ceiling.

Cracked ceiling repair Sydney

Cracked ceilings and wall cracks are a very common occurrence in properties across Sydney, especially in older homes. Even new homes are not free from these worries. If you notice cracks and you are not confident in what kind of crack it is, contact a plasterer to do an inspection and give you their recommendation to repair it. Plasterers can patch up small cracks, they can help you repair a ceiling as sometimes a ceiling may be too far gone and replacement is necessary. Remember that not all cracks are as serious as others, address the serious cracks in a timely way to make sure you protect the structural integrity of your home.

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